Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning to celebrate 50th anniversary with exhibition by local artist

Jamaica native and legendary artist Danny Simmons (Photo courtesy of JCAL)

Next year, the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) will begin commemorating its 50th anniversary with an art exhibition accompanied by Jamaica native and legendary artist Danny Simmons. 

The exhibition, called “Early Days and Latter Days,” will open with a reception on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, and will remain on view through Saturday, June 18. It will feature both of JCAL’s galleries and feature works from the beginning of Simmons’ career, as well as new works created specifically for his yearlong residency at JCAL. 

“Early Days & Latter Days” not only marks Simmons’ return to Jamaica, but just one of several capstones to JCAL’s remarkable 50 years of service to southeast Queens.

“Jamaica, Queens, is deeply embedded in my DNA. To be coming home with a retrospective exhibition and an exhibition of completely new work is a grand high honor. To be recognized at the 50th anniversary of JCAL is a fantastic benchmark for my career in the arts, a very special honor which I’m truly grateful to receive,” Simmons said. 

While he’s a legendary artist, Simmons is also a leader in the art world with his philanthropic ventures, artistic talents and drive. He has also co-produced the hit HBO show “Def Poetry Jam” and won a Tony award for the Broadway version of the show.

Simmons inaugurated his residency at JCAL back in October 2021 with “Homecoming,” a spoken-word-and-jazz concert that welcomed legendary bassist Ron Carter and a lineup of acclaimed poets to the stage. 

In the spring of 2022, Simmons will participate in two public artist talks to share his life process and journey as a renowned multidisciplinary artist and performer.

“[Simmons] truly embodies living an artist’s life in 360 degrees — with all the struggles, inspirations and determination it requires. Danny’s first artwork was indeed shown at what was once called Jamaica Arts Center, and we’re honored to welcome him back,” said Courtney Ffrench, JCAL artistic director. 

Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning is known to be a multidisciplinary arts center based in the diverse community of southeast Queens. First founded in 1972, the center is devoted to offering quality visual, performing and literary arts, and to providing accessible education programs to encourage participation in the arts.