Germantown artist studio pals exhibit work at MAAG

by Len Lear
Posted 4/4/24

The original work of self-taught art studio mates Dwayne Boone and Alonzo Troy Humphrey will be presented in “Philly Through Our Eyes.”

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Germantown artist studio pals exhibit work at MAAG


The original work of self-taught art studio mates Dwayne Boone and Alonzo Troy Humphrey will be presented in “Philly Through Our Eyes,” a show running from April 7 to 14 at Mt. Airy Art Garage, 7054 Germantown Ave. The opening reception is scheduled for 1 p.m., Sunday, April 7.

The two artists, who have shared a Germantown studio for more than five years, sat with us last week to discuss their work, and how it “visualizes our everyday life as artists in Philadelphia.”

The following has been lightly edited for length and clarity. 

Where did you grow up?

Dwayne: I grew up here in Germantown.

Alonzo: Down south in Chattanooga Tennessee.

What about school? Did you get any formal training?

Dwayne: I first went to Germantown High. Then I was transferred over to Gratz. I had no schooling after graduating high school. 

Alonzo: I went to high school in Tennessee. And me neither – no schooling after high school. We’re mostly self-taught “outsider artists.”

What about jobs? What kind of work did you do to support yourself?

Dwayne: I worked at a program called Spark when it was called PDC. I trained for a job at Pomco Graphics in 1989. Since then I’ve worked as an artist through the program Ideate, part of Resources for Human Development.

Alonzo: I worked in 1986 at a club on Market Street where I cleaned up. Then eventually I joined the program Oasis, which enabled me to work as an artist. Now I’m an artist through Ideate. They support my art career.

Were you always an artist, even as a child?

Dwayne: Yes. I remember always drawing, starting when I was about 10. I was 15 when I made my first art sale. I drew a picture of a koala and sold it for $2.

Alonzo: My mom started teaching me to draw as a very young child, around 2. I was born with a pencil in my hand.

What other artists, living or dead, have influenced you the most?

Dwayne: The classics inspire me: Picasso, Michelangelo. I listen to music while working, which influences me too. Musical artists who come to mind are Patti Labelle and Alicia Keys.

Alonzo: Some of the support staff I’ve had over the years have inspired me. Dave Markowitz comes to mind. He always had ideas for me and was always a nice guy. My mom’s teachings have lasted my whole life; she inspired me the most.

Where and when has your work previously been on exhibit?

Dwayne: I’ve had solo shows at Space 1026 here in Philly and at a few cafes, such as The Monkey & The Elephant, Benna’s Cafe, Cafe Ole, and Race Street Cafe. I’ve also been included in group exhibitions at The Fairmount House, Fleisher/Ollman, The Plastic Club, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Mt. Airy Art Garage and other great spots.

Alonzo: I've had solo shows at SawTown Tavern, 10th Street Laundromat, and The Monkey and the Elephant and in group exhibits at The Philadelphia Magic Gardens, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Off the Wall at Dirty Frank’s and more Philly locations.

How would you characterize your work?

Dwayne: I do illustration and have a strong emphasis on design. I like using patterns, vibrant colors and printmaking. My art practice is like my meditation practice.

Alonzo: I use pen and ink to create my artwork. People call me “visionary” because it’s all from my mind. I visualize lines and images in my mind and put them down on paper. It’s like putting the thoughts to sleep.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Dwayne: I received good advice from my art teachers and my parents. Ms. Arnold and Ms. Higgins in high school, and my sister, Vanetta Bouknight, always gave me advice and encouraged me to keep making art.

Alonzo: My art teachers in school and throughout my program have given me advice on how to improve my art and make it cleaner, more refined. Having teachers draw with me side by side is the best.

What is the hardest thing you ever had to do?

Dwayne: Overcoming challenges, such as smoking and drinking. Once I cut them out, my life improved, my art practice grew, and I was more in control of my life. I’ve been sober for over 12 years now.

Alonzo: I’ve had to overcome challenges from my childhood. My mother raised me, my sister, and my two brothers all on her own and times were very tough. I learned a lot from my childhood and the challenges that came with it.

What person has had the greatest impact on your life, and why?

Dwayne: My foster mother; she inspired me. She told me I could do whatever I wanted as long as I put my mind to it.

Alonzo: My mom comes up most often for me. She taught me most of what I know about drawing, which is one of the most important threads throughout my life.

If you could meet and spend time with anyone on earth, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Dwayne: My uncle Robert! He taught me a lot about drawing and presenting myself as an artist.

Alonzo: My mom has passed, but if I could, I would like to draw with her again.

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