Millbury artist Michael Graves painting headed to West Africa as part of US Art in Embassies program

MILLBURY – More paintings by Millbury artist Michael Graves will soon travel to Africa for display in US embassies on the continent.

This is the second time Graves’ paintings have been selected under the US State Department’s Art in Embassies program.

The program was launched in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy to showcase American art and culture in American embassies, consulates, and diplomatic residences in hundreds of countries around the world.

In 2019, Mary Beth Leonard, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria and a native of Worcester, selected two of Graves’ paintings for her official residence in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Millbury artist Mike Graves in his studio with one of his paintings.

Leonard visited Graves’ studio in Millbury and selected paintings from two Worcester scenes: Elm Park and Union Station. Leonard went on to present the images as a backdrop for her National Day 2020 address on July 4th.

The US State Department recently announced that the US Ambassador to the West African nation of Burkina Faso, Sandra E. Clark, has selected one of Graves’ paintings by Millbury for exhibition at the US Embassy in the capital, Ouagadougou.

The painting, which is now going to Burkina Faso, shows a winter street scene with Millbury’s First Congregational Church in the background.

The first congregation was founded in 1804 to serve the Old Common farming community. In 1835 the church was dismantled and moved by ox-drawn carts to its current location on West Main Street in the neighborhood of the town called Bramanville.

Parishioners decided to move church because many of the Old Common Farming Community had moved to Bramanville to work in the mills on the Blackstone River rather than going up the hill to Old Common to go to church on Sundays.

Graves said he was honored to have a small piece of his hometown history on display for heads of state, dignitaries and other officials doing business with the embassy. For American diplomats serving in a sultry town on the edge of the Sahara, he hopes a snow-covered New England scene will serve as a reminder of something closer – and cooler – to home.

Graves, a lifelong resident of Millbury, is a nationally recognized landscape artist. Graves painted all his life.

An outdoor artist – one who goes outside the confines of a studio and paints outskirts in the open air – Graves is a common sight in Millbury, with his easel painting the streams, ponds, woodlands, farms and churches in all seasons, whatever the weather.

Graves studied at Anna Maria College in Paxton and was tutored for more than 30 years by the late Grafton artist Bernard Corey. Graves is a member of the Guild of Boston Artists, the Rockport Art Association, and the American Artist Professional League.

Graves has won more than 85 awards and his work is sold in nearly a dozen galleries across New England.

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