Lifestyle/Art Marzette Watts - Painter, Musician and Activist

Published on September 29th, 2023 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


Auction of Marzette Watts Artwork: A Glimpse into History

On October 9th, an extraordinary event will take place in Beacon, New York – the auction of artwork by Marzette Watts, a prominent Black artist, musician and activist from the 1960s. Watts’ journey is intertwined with the Civil Rights Movement and the vibrant cultural scene of New York City.

Marzette Watts - Painter, Musician and Activist

Marzette Watts – Painter, Musician and Activist

From Montgomery to New York

Marzette Watts’s story began with a sit-in at the Montgomery, Alabama courthouse in 1960, which led to his expulsion from Alabama State College along with eight others. Facing intimidation from law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan, Watts, a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, sought refuge in New York City and enrolled at NYU. Having been an art major at Alabama State College, he continued his studies under the tutelage of renowned Amistad muralist Hale Woodruff. Watts later spent a year at the Sorbonne in Paris, broadening his horizons.

A Life in New York’s Artistic Circles

Settling in Manhattan’s Cooper Square, Marzette Watts became part of a vibrant community that included influential figures such as Le Roi Jones, Allen Ginsberg, Larry Rivers, and Free Jazz musician Archie Shepp. His association with the Free Jazz movement redirected his creative focus from painting to music. Watts forged a close friendship with Lawrence Weiner and collaborated on soundtracks. Later, he established his own recording companies and eventually became a teacher at Wesleyan University.

Auction Details

Hudson Valley Auctioneers will showcase 150 lots of Marzette Watts’ artwork, including oils, ink on paper, watercolors, and photographs. Notably, there will be a rare Delancey Street Museum flyer featuring a Bob Thompson exhibit. This auction will be conducted both in person and online through live auctioneers.

Catalog and Previews

For those interested, a bound color catalog is available, offering an in-depth biography of Marzette Watts and images of all 150 lots. To obtain a catalog, you can send a check for $40 ($35 for the catalog plus $5 for shipping) payable to Hudson Valley Auctioneers at the provided address. Credit card payment options are also available.

Preview Dates and Contact Information

If you wish to preview the artwork, you can do so on Sunday, October 8th, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and on Monday, October 9th, from 5 p.m. until the auction begins at 7 p.m. The auctioneer, Neil Vaughn, can be reached at 914-489-2399, and the event will take place at Hudson Valley Auctioneers’ location:

Hudson Valley Auctioneers
432 Main Street
Beacon, NY 12508
Main Office: Tel: 845-831-6800
Office Manager: Theo de Haas Tel: 845-480-2381

This auction promises to be a significant moment, offering a chance to acquire pieces of Marzette Watts’ artistic legacy and a glimpse into the history and cultural dynamism of the 1960s.


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Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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