Clyde Emil Sanford by Darla Ostrum
Sanford’s preferred medium was oil paint and preferred style was portraiture. His official portrait of Dr. Anthony L. Jordan hung in the lobby of the new Jordan Health Center in the 1970’s. One of his paintings, “The Dancer” was reproduced as a print. Sanford’s murals can still be seen today on the walls of the former People’s Club on Jefferson Avenue, an African-American social club that formed after the Riots of 1960’s. Although the building’s use has changed over the years, it still remains an example of the positive cultural growth of the African-American population of Rochester. Sanford further supported that growth through the Pan African Cultural Exposition (PACE), a cooperative effort by the Rochester community to present an annual festival of arts and crafts, downtown at the Crossroads Park.
Sanford added more to Rochester’s cultural growth through the Haiti Afro American Cultural Center, art gallery, and coffee house which he and his wife of 10 years, Alice Sanford, founded on the corner of Friederick Park and Hudson Avenue. “Haiti” was a gathering place of the “movers and shakers” of the time from all walks of life; an art school with a faculty consisting of Sanford and fellow artists who worked in various media; a showcase of African art and culture; performance art; music; poetry; and his ever present philosophy to learn and share knowledge. Sanford became an expert on voodoo; the history and meaning of African masks; spoke Spanish and Creole French; developed hydroponic vegetable gardens at Haiti for his family’s needs (including his daughter Ylisa Sanford Seymour and his stepsons Ricky and Jamie Smith); and always sought self sufficiency through action and learning.
His friends, students, colleagues, fellow artists and contemporaries included David Gantt; Willie Lightfoot; Calvin Lee; Emmett Porter; Joe Flores; Mildred Johnson; Franklin Florence; Jim McCuller; David Anderson; Garth Fagan; Noel Lawson; Richard Craven; Terrance Bruce; Nancy Dupree; Sylvia (“Martian”) Barker; Larry Green; Julius Williams; Bobbie Johnson; Charles McGill; Ernest Jones; Reggie Magill; David Anderson; Gene Lockhart; Connie Mitchell; Gus Newport, Mayor William Johnson, Freddie and Midge Thomas; Wyoma Best; Paul Moody; Yolanda Osborn Villa; Maryann Johnson; Tom Marrotta; Calvin Hubbard; LaVonn Shephard; Melvin (“The Professor”) Johnson; Larry Green; and me, the woman who loved him for the rest of his life. A Renaissance man in the time of social revolution, we remember him for the beauty he created; his deep, resonant voice; commanding presence; and the void that he left behind.