Juneteenth Meaning & Charles Criner Art Posters
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Artist Charles Criner
For more information about this talented and creative artist check out the article titled Heart & Soul of Art by Charles Criner.
If you click on the above referenced article, you will have more of an idea of just what goes into a Charles Criner piece of art. He creates many original lithographs at Houston’s Museum of Printing History but he also paints, sketches and draws like other multi talented successful artists. The museum is now simply called The Printing Museum.
From his early days while still living at home, Criner’s artistic talents were obvious. Instead of spending much of his time laboring in the fields along with most of the residents in the small Texas town of Athens where he was born, he was busy creating art images.
He celebrated Juneteenth with the rest of his family because his grandmother demanded it. Schools were not yet teaching the significance of that date, nor did he learn it at home.
Charles’ memories of the celebration usually consisted of enjoying a picnic day, eating a Bar-B-Q meal and drinking red soda water. Sometimes if dollars were stretched to the limit, one bottle of the red soda water would be shared by passing it around the table where each of his seven other siblings would each take a sip tingeing their teeth, lips and tongues red.
Charles Criner did not really know the huge significance of the 19th of June back in those early days. He would learn about that later when he was in Galveston, Texas and a friend pointed out the Ashton Villa to him.
The photo of the artwork just above titled “Man coming out of the water” represents Charles Criner’s love of fishing. He has spent many of his leisure hours in Galveston and elsewhere pursuing that favorite pastime.
When his friend pointed out the Ashton Villa to him on one of those fishing trips as they passed Broadway at 23rd Street, he became informed of the significance of that red brick building. Broadway is one of the main boulevard streets leading into Galveston and the Gulf of Mexico waters.This happened in the mid 1960s when Charles was attending Texas Southern University. It was not only because that impressive home was one of the first homes built with brick in the state. No…it was far more than that!
It was on that wrought iron veranda of this three story Victorian / Italian styled home that the Union Army General Gordon Granger read aloud the paper instrument called “General Order Number 3.”
It was here that slaves in Texas were first informed that they were now free. That date was June 19, 1865.
The Emancipation Proclamation had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 but obviously could not be enforced in states which were still embroiled in the Civil War. Other states and territories were also exempted from this Proclamation.
The Ashton Villa was the home to a successful businessman named Colonel James Moreau Brown and his family. In addition to the expertise of European craftsmen, it was constructed with the use of slave labor. Somehow it seems ironic but fitting that a home built with slave labor was a place where slaves would find out about their freedom.
During the Civil War, at times the Ashton Villa was the headquarters for the Confederate Army and at other times the Union Army was headquartered there. Now it is a part of the Galveston Historical Foundation and also serves as a home to the Galveston Island Visitor Center.
A Recorded Texas Landmark, Ashton Villa is also on the National Register of Historical Places and is open to the public for tours and special events.
Heidelberg Printing Presses
As a permanent artist in residence at The Printing Museum in Houston, Charles Criner was there when Heidelberg Inc. headquartered in Germany came to Houston to give a presentation of their world renowned printing presses.
Their history dates back to their origination in Heidelberg, Germany in 1850. The quality of their presses continued to be improved upon through the years until they were considered to be superior to just about all of their competitors claiming just under 50% of the market worldwide.
In 2005 representatives of that company came to Houston and set up some demonstration presses in the Museum of Printing History.
One interested company from Japan wanted to know if they could reproduce fine art prints on their presses. That is when they approached Charles Criner asking permission to replicate some of his art. Permission was granted and ultimately millions of dollars of printing presses were sold to Japanese interests as a result of that successful demonstration.
Expressing their gratitude to Charles Criner for the part that his art played in those press sales, they agreed to print a poster for him free of charge each year in the amount numbering 2,500. Heidelberg has kept that promise starting from the year 2006 and going forward.
The photo at the top of this page was the very first image printed and it is titled “Juneteenth.” It was created in 2005 and is a mixed media piece on paper. Charles has used the posters each year to give out free of charge to students taking tours of the museum as well as other interested parties. His focus and intent of the posters is to publicize the importance and significance of Juneteenth and the freedom of slaves in Texas.
His art reflects the black experience from his personal perspective and intentionally is a look back in keeping that history alive.
Juneteenth is celebrated by people in Texas as an official state holiday since January 1, 1980. It applauds the day when African Americans first heard that slavery had been abolished.
It has spread to other states with the natural migration of people who wished to celebrate in lands outside of the Texas borders but not yet as an official holiday everywhere. 14 of our 50 states do not yet officially recognize June 19th as a holiday.
During the era of the Civil Rights movement, celebrations on the date of June 19th have at times waned with the focus of gaining more rights other than not simply being owned by another person.
In this day and age the important “Emancipation Day in Texas” known as Juneteenth is celebrated with gatherings, parades, picnics and other activities in good spirited fun in many places all across the United States.
On all of the Charles Criner Juneteenth posters credit is given to the following entities:
“Poster sponsored by: The Museum of Printing History, and the Rutherford B.H.Yates Museum, Houston, Texas. Printed compliments of HEIDELBERG USA INC. KENNESAW, GEORGIA”
Timeline of Freedom
There are so many dates leading up to the final freedom for all of the slaves in the expanding United States of America and her territories that putting just one date on it is a little hard to do.
It actually started with the African Slave Trade Treaty Act which took place on April 7, 1862 between Britain and the United States which had the effect of suppressing the trading of slaves.
September 22, 1862 was when the preliminary announcement of what would become the Emancipation Proclamation was first cited.
January 1, 1863 some 100 days later was when the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln went into effect.
- This only applied to the Confederate States who had not yet come under the Union flag. It was also obviously hard to enforce although the technically freed blacks were invited to join the Union troops. Many did which probably helped shorten the War between the States.
- Union States who were slave holders were exempted.
- Other places like New Orleans and nearby parishes as well as some territories (yet to become states) were exempted.
November 1, 1864 the abolition of slavery officially went into effect in the State of Maryland.
- The State of Tennessee followed suit early in 1865.
June 19, 1865 became the date when slaves in Texas first knew of their freedom.
December 6, 1865 was the date when the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by an appropriate number of states to go into effect.
Thus December of 1865 after the 13th Amendment became fully enforced was the official month when slaves all across the United States…no matter where they lived…finally gained their freedom.
Did you know the relevance and importance of Juneteenth?
You might also have an interest in reading these posts about the art of Charles Criner:
Location of The Printing Museum and where you can meet the artist Charles Criner: 1324 W Clay St, Houston, Texas 77019.