Feb. 9, 2013
-- Susan Cayton Woodson (http://www.thehistorymakers.com/
39) (1918 - 2013), dubbed by some as the “Queen of Arts”, passed away quietly in our Hyde Park home in Chicago on January 31. Woodson was an avid collector of African American art and her home was the site of the Susan C. Woodson Gallery of Chicago.
Originally from Seattle, Woodson moved to Chicago as a child. She was the great grand daughter of the first African American senator from Mississippi, Hiram Revels, who was elected in 1870 during Reconstruction. She was influenced by the accomplishments of her grandmother Susie Revels Cayton, a suffragette and union activitst and her grandfather, Horace Roscoe Cayton publisher of the Seattle Republican, the city’s first black newspaper.
Woodson was married to prominent Chicago businessman and food chemist, Harold Woodson. The couple lived in the Rosenwald, home of many of the city’s black intellectuals and artists.
Woodson was friend to some of the giants of African American history including Paul Robeson who accompanied her, as a child, to her new home in Chicago. She was close friends with many artists and art collectors among them Eldzier Cortor, Langston Hughes, Ted Ward, Richard Wright, William McBride and Dr. Margaret Burroughs, one of the founders of the South Side Community Art Center.
Of opening an art gallery in her home Woodson said, "I have always wanted to be a part of art.” When my husband became ill and retired, I needed to be at home. Opening a gallery made sense because I had the space and because I have been helping struggling artists sell their work for some time."
Oil paintings by William Carter, watercolors by Sylvester Britton, lithographs by Dr. Margaret Taylor Burroughs, Patricia Bohannon's and Harry Detry's sculptures and Marva Jolley's pottery filled the Susan C. Woodson Gallery.
The artists themselves frequently dropped by Woodson's gallery on weekends, to meet the browsers. "I enjoy introducing interesting people to each other. I love to bring in new artists while celebrating the legacy of old ones."
Woodson served on the Board South Side Community Art Center for more than 50 years and was a member of the Vivian G. Society. She was interviewed by the HistoryMakers in May of 2003.