Dorsey’s Fine Art Gallery: New York’s oldest Black-owned gallery space

In the final episode of theGrio’s new series, “Legacy,” second-generation owner Naima Wood takes us through the history of Dorsey’s Fine Art Gallery.

Near the intersection of Fenimore Street and Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn sits New York’s oldest Black-owned art gallery space, Dorsey’s Fine Art Gallery. The gallery was established in 1970 by Lawrence P. Dorsey and has been creating space on its walls for Black artists for over 50 years.  

Lawrence Dorsey was born in 1919 in St. Louis. He attended LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee, where he studied journalism. Following two years in college, and service in the Army during World War II, Dorsey landed in Brooklyn where he established a few businesses, and eventually found and purchased a small framing shop on Rogers Avenue, which later became Dorsey’s Fine Art Galley. 

In the fourth episode of theGrio’s new series, “Legacy,” second-generation owner Naima Wood walks us through her grandfather’s legacy of cultivating Black spaces for Black artists. 

The exterior of Dorsey’s Fine Art Gallery in Brooklyn. (Photo Credit: Yolanda Hoskey)
Naima Wood inside Dorsey’s Fine Art Gallery. (Photo credit: Yolanda Hoskey)

“The gallery has been around for my entire life. My sister and I spent a lot of time in the art gallery hanging out with my grandfather and assisting him with his work.” — Naima Wood

Naima recalls spending her summers back from school in the gallery with her grandfather as he introduced her to fine art and prepped her for business ownership. 

My grandfather would send me to Manhattan to meet with his clients, to manage some transactions on his behalf. I didn’t realize it then, but he was preparing me to manage his art business by equipping me with tools, education and experience.” — Naima Wood

As a second-generation owner, Naima continues her grandfather’s mission of supporting Black artists and making fine art spaces accessible to people of color. 

“Legacy is a gift, passed down through generations… My grandfather built a successful art business in Brooklyn, one he was proud of. I am honored to continue his legacy and will pass the business down to the next generation.” — Naima Wood

“Legacy” is a profile series that spotlights Black businesses whose 50-plus year legacies have withstood the test of time while managing to “keep it in the family.” Each episode takes viewers through the history of the business as told by its next-generation owners. Check out the article and episode on Hakim’s Bookstore & Gift Shop.

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