Lawhorn Art

Acrylic painting by Vernon C. Lawhorn.

The Palmdale Playhouse’s latest art exhibit, “Africa Moves: The Legacy of Vernon Charles Lawhorn,” features art from the late artist, who died at 48 years old of a heart attack, in August 1996.

He was born and raised in Chicago and excelled in art from an early age and later went on to graduate from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree, after receiving a scholarship in track and art.

“A lot of his last pieces were born here in Palmdale,” Jane Lawhorn, Vernon Lawhorn’s widow said.

“Africa Moves” features about 30 pieces of Vernon Lawhorn’s artwork, including early work from about 1969, to his last piece, “Africa Moves in Black and White,” a stunning and creative acrylic painting of a zebra with many hidden images in it. 

Some of the images include a young boy praying, a hand, a body, the continent of Africa and an ostrich head.

“The beauty of it is the images are in the white, as well as the black, so it really makes you work,” Jane Lawhorn said.

Through his mastery of color, light source, paints and pencils, Vernon Lawhorn brought life and culture to his subjects in a most diverse and extraordinary way. 

The couple were married for 10 years when Vernon Lawhorn died. They knew each other for about 16 years, total. Jane Lawhorn is also an artist and some of her work is on display. She designed and framed her husband’s artwork.

“Young African Kings” features a young Masai boy lying with an orphaned lion club.

“This was from different material,” Jane Lawhorn said. “The idea that he had in his head about putting these two young future kings together.” 

“The Pearl We Hold Most Dear” features a pair of hands pulling a pearl from the ocean. Inside the pearl, are images of children. The pearl’s shells represent Africa.

“I created this painting to express the feelings I have toward the children of my African heritage,” Vernon Lawhorn wrote. “The hands are used to dramatize a divine lifting of a pearl from the shells of Africa. This pearl signifies what I feel is the dearest and most precious gift of this world … our children. As one sees the reflection in the water given by the shells, they can realize the continent from which the children’s heritage began.”

Nine pieces of Vernon Lawhorn’s artwork, including “Africa Moves,” were featured in season one of “The Jamie Foxx Show,” which ran on the WB from August 1996 to January 2001.

The exhibit will be on display through March 1, during regularly scheduled hours at the Palmdale Playhouse, 38334 10th St. East.

For details, call 661-267-5684 or visit

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