He worked as a Works Progress Administration artist for the Federal Art Project and taught art at the Harlem Community Art Center in New York City, where he was a noted contemporary, friend and partner of another famous African-American artist, Charles Alston, with whom he ran the Alston-Bannarn Harlem Art Workshop in Harlem/NYC, NY. He was intimately associated with the "Harlem Renaissance" of the 1930s, being considered as one of the movements preeminent contributors. Although he is primarily known for his work in sculpture, he was equally skilled as a figurist and character artist in the various paint mediums, conte crayon, pastel, free form sketch, etc.
In 1941, he returned to Minnesota and entered a piece of sculpture in the Minnesota State Fair sculpture competition, where he was awarded the first prize. The much-honored artist had won a painting prize at the fair a decade earlier as well, representing one of the earliest achievements by an African-American artist in that states history.
At the April 26th, 2007 sale conducted by at Shannon's Fine Art Auctioneers, Milford, Connecticut, a Bannarn original oil titled "Modernist Exhibition" sold for $24,000 USD, achieving a price nearly tenfold it's pre-auction estimate of $2500-$3500. . At a May 18th, 2008 Auction conducted by the Rose Hill Auction Gallery, Englewood, NJ, an oil on board painting by Bannarn entitled "Seagulls" sold for $5750, more than tenfold it's pre-auction estimate of $200-$300.
Teaching a part of history not often told; A woman hopes the neighborhood surrounding her great-grandfather's early-1900s house can help others learn about Minneapolis' black settlers.(NEWS)
Jun 17, 1999; 1/3 To Delores Grigsby, poking into her family's history has been painful as well as fascinating. It's also given her a cause. At...
American storyteller; Painter Jacob Lawrence filters social history through personal experience.(ENTERTAINMENT)
Jan 21, 1996; After a lifetime of noteworthy firsts - and the recognition they confer - Jacob Lawrence doesn't really need another major museum...