Arts & Culture

Spirit Conjurer Louis Delsarte Celebrates 75 Years Of Creativity


Brooklyn-born renowned artist, Louis Delsarte, often referred to as The Spirit Conjurer celebrated his 75th birthday on September 1, 2019. Delsarte’s legacy of capturing life on canvas, paper, ceramic tile and more spans 5 decades. While his life as an artist has been devoted to uplifting people from the African Diaspora, his theme of peace and love is universal. Delsarte is best known for his work, The Dream Keeper, which is a colorful mosaic bust of former President, Barack Obama. The sculpture created by Matthew Gonzales and interpreted by 44 artists was part of the exhibition, Visions of our 44th President sponsored by the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit, MI.

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The Dream Keeper, 2012, Charles s H. Wright Museum

Delsarte’s legacy can be attributed to his creative dexterity.  He works with various media, including pastel, watercolor, pencil, oil, plaster and acrylic to create murals, paintings, drawings and sculpture.   His work has been exhibited in many spaces and is in numerous collections across the country including the Harvard Art Museums in Boston, MA and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY. Delsarte’s commissioned work can be found in the Metro Train Stations in New York and the Martin Luther King Memorial Peace Plaza in Atlanta, GA. Delsarte’s work is as diverse as his methods of creativity and reveals his commitment to both art and the community. In fact, his mural Spirit of Harlem, a tribute to the neighborhood that served as the hub for the Harlem Renaissance, was in danger of being lost forever. In 2017, Footaction, the sneaker chain, covered the beautiful tribute to black creative expression with a faux brick wall. After receiving backlash from people around the world, the parent company (Foot Locker, Inc.) brought Delsarte on board as an advisor to refurbish the 10 by 30-foot mural and returned it to the Harlem community in 2018.

In addition to producing iconic art, Delsarte served as a teacher, working at numerous colleges and universities over the last 50 years. Currently, Delsarte is an Associate Professor of Arts and Humanities at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA where he teaches studio art courses.

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Detail, Transitions, ceramic tile – MTA, 2001, Louis Delsarte (© all rights reserved)
Detail, Dreams, Visions, and Change, – MLK Mural, 2009, Louis Delsarte (© all rights reserved)

Often described as an illusionist, Delsarte is lauded by peers and critics.  Curator Kevin Sipp has described him as “one of the preeminent colorists of his generation.” Delsarte’s career stands out from his peers with his lean towards abstraction.  Dancing ladies, pensive women, piano players, and families have all appeared in his vibrant work. The iconic artist cites music, most notably jazz, as one of his greatest influences.  Delsarte grew up around the likes of greats like Lena Horne and Cab Calloway, friends of his parents and grandparents. Music continues to be undoubtedly linked to his creative process. In fact, his process can be likened to that of a jam session.  Through a unique combination of structure and freestyle, Delsarte’s pieces reflect the movement inherent to their birthing process. The painter and muralist often moves his canvas back-and-forth between the floor and the easel, often over a period of ten or more sessions.  The semi-improvisational method is reflected in the dancing colors and layered abstraction that brings a stunning vibrancy to his work.  

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Reflections – mixed media watercolor – 1989, Louis Delsarte

In 2019, renowned filmmaker Ava Duvernay, selected Delsarte, for her guest-edited “Optimist” edition of Time Magazine. His work and words were featured alongside Frank Bowling, Cicely Tyson, and other creatives whose artistry embodies hope and optimism.

Delsarte’s artistic genius is undeniable, his portfolio enviable, and his commitment to the people and the next generation of creatives, admirable. JARO Art would like to wish the living legend a very Happy 75th Birthday and thank him for his invaluable contribution to the celebration of black life and culture. 

To learn more about Louis Delsarte, go to


MJ VanDevere

MJ VanDevere is a doctoral candidate at a predominately white elite institution in the South who uses humor to combat racism, sexism, and all the other –isms that seek to diminish her greatness. She is a self-proclaimed “stand-up snob” who does not have a favorite comedian, so please don't ask unless you have several hours to spare. Some of her favorite movies include, Life, Dead Presidents, and Happy Feet. If, she could only do one thing for the rest of her life, it would definitely be laugh, and maybe write. Adulting is her greatest work in progress.

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