Right off the Wall : PURVIS YOUNG (1943-2010)


The dynamic life of Purvis Young began near Miami during WWII, in an area known paradoxically as Liberty City, segregation laws prohibited black Americans from resting and residing in Miami Beach. Part of the sparsely populated outskirts of northern Miami, Liberty City was built to address poor housing conditions in the slums of the Overtown area. Young would eventually settle in Overtown and become an iconic part of telling the story of its people. Self-taught and strongly influenced by the style of old masters’ compositions - Young said “ I paint the world going on ….and I paint my dreams”.

It is important to Young and his legacy to state, that while he did spend a few years of his life in a Florida Penitentiary, the charge was Breaking and Entering, NOT robbery. Young was a black man in Florida prior to the civil rights movement, and race and income inequality played a role in both his arrest and conviction. During his incarceration, he used his time to re-engage in artistic expression, firstly through drawing and later painting as well. For the rest of his career Young's work was often a blend of painting, drawing, and collaged elements from found objects.



The early 1970’s saw inspiration arrive for Young via the murals and art of the Civil Rights Movement, specifically works from Chicago and Detroit. His home at this point was the Overtown neighborhood of Miami and he began to adorn a local


area known as Goodbread Ally with a mural of his art. Painting and pasting found books, wood boards, pallets, and reclaimed surfaces from his environment, Young would hang these pieces in public view on the walls of the ally, named for the former abundance of Good Bakeries in the area. His work was so desired some went missing, taken by admirers and so recognizing an opportunity he sold it “ Right off the wall “ , in Goodbread Ally.