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A Niche for Beauty : Art: A Westside businessman has opened new avenues to make affordable works by black artists available around the country.

September 09, 1990|ELSTON L. CARR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For black artists such as Ollie Thompson, Cooper's is a way to share their vision. "My initial impetus to do black art was to . . . glorify black people and black features that people say are bad to have . . . thick lips, curly hair," Thompson said. "I wanted to put a dent in the image of what people thought was beautiful. I wanted black people to understand a more natural way of looking at beauty, rather than the projected way on TV screens or on . . . billboards."

Alice Patrick, a former elementary school art teacher whose work includes the well-known painting "Women Do Get Weary," said she has mixed feelings about the label black art. She said she likes it only if it will sell paintings.

"I could never figure out what black art meant," she said. "It tends to put you in a bag, a circle or a box. I am an artist."

But Patrick has no reservations about Cooper's. "We definitely need more places like Cooper's. If he hadn't been there, I probably would still be selling T-shirts at Venice Beach."

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