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The Art Lovers Book Club at the Albany Museum of Art will launch its second series of bimonthly meetings at 6 p.m. on May 19 with a discussion of Langston Hughes’ novel “Not without Laughter.” Because of social distancing guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans have been made for the club to meet online.

ALBANY — The second series of AMA Art Lovers Book Club meetings will get underway on May 19. Albany Museum of Art Executive Director Andrew James Wulf will facilitate a discussion of “Not Without Laughter,” by Langston Hughes.

The club will meet at 6 p.m. If the AMA is still closed to the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club will meet online.

“We all know it is still critically important to shelter in place at this time, and the AMA is delighted to continue offering our regularly scheduled museum programs in a virtual format,” Wulf said. “Of course, we are all looking forward to being able to open the museum to the public and for events like this when it is safe to do so.”

The AMA conducted its last book club meeting of the 2019-20 season on April 7 with an online discussion hosted by Annie Vanoteghem, director of education and public programming for the AMA.

The AMA Art Lovers Book Club meets every other month on the third Tuesday to discuss novels that center on art. Club members may attend as many or as few meetings as they like, and there is no cost to participate.

“The Art Lovers Book Club has been such a great program for our community, we just had to figure out how to make it happen even during social distancing,” Vanoteghem said. “While the virtual book club was not quite the same, we were so happy to be able to ‘get together’ and feel a bit more normal for the evening.

“It’s important for all of us to keep our bonds and relationships strong through this time; the AMA is working to do just that for our community through our array of virtual programming.”

Space is limited for online book club meetings to ensure the best experience for participants. Email Vanoteghem at to reserve a spot.

Once book club meetings resume in-person at the AMA, participants will be asked to email Vanoteghem or call her by noon on the meeting date so that adequate seating space can be prepared.

“Not Without Laughter” is a semi-autobiographical novel by Hughes, a leader of the Harlem Renaissance that spanned the 1920s. A native of Joplin, Mo., who spent most of his childhood in Lawrence, Kan., Hughes was a young man when he moved to New York City.

Hughes became a pioneer of the literary art form called jazz poetry. He also was a social activist, novelist, playwright and columnist. “Not Without Laughter,” published in 1930, was his first novel, and won the Harmon Gold Medal.

“Langston Hughes is one of America’s literary treasures,” Wulf said. “His originally creative contributions to poetry and prose honor the realities of African-American family life from the 1910s through the 1960s.”

The novel follows the life of Sandy Rogers and the life of Africans Americans in Kansas in the 1910s. The setting and characters were based on Hughes’ memories of Lawrence, Kan., where he was raised by his grandmother. Like Hughes, Sandy has a poor relationship with his father and strives to be the best he can be despite the challenges African Americans faced.

The meetings are set for every two months so that club members have plenty of time to obtain and read the books before each session. Vanoteghem said the reading list for the second season has been set.

“This will be a fun season of Art Lovers Book Club,” she said. “We have a wide selection of books to discover. From historical fiction to nonfiction, with themes around poetry and painting to architecture and sculpture, each book will follow the lives of artists from different cultures, backgrounds and time periods, and will give us a peek into their lives.”

Books selected for the second season and meetings dates are:

July 21: “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, hosted by Tricia Moreschi;

Sept 15: “The Passion of Artemisia” by Susan Vreeland;

Nov 17: “The Andy Warhol Diaries,” edited by Pat Hackett;

Jan 19: “In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage” by Alan Schroeder;

March 16: “Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan

Information will be updated as needed on the AMA website at and on the AMA Facebook page, AlbanyMuseumOfArt.

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