Harlem’s Great Arts Display

On July 19th over 250 community members, cultural arbiters and friends, gathered for a special reception in honor of harlem is… Art: A Reflection of Community which explores the rich legacy of art in Harlem through revolving exhibitions by artists from Harlem and beyond. The exhibition and special reception are the result of a unique collaboration between Community Works and the Harlem Arts Alliance in association with Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Columbia University. The first annual exhibit features the work of 13 visual artists across disciplines and is currently on display at the prestigious LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Dodge Hall, at Columbia University – located at 116th Street and Broadway – through August 10th.

harlem is… Art celebrates the continuing visual traditions of Harlem from the Renaissance to the Weusi artists of the Black Arts Movement of the mid-60’s thru mid-70’s to the contemporary arts movement of today. The exhibit showcases the remarkable talents of emerging and established artists of the community in an eclectic range of styles from traditional to cutting edge through collage, sculpture, mixed media, mosaic, oil and charcoal. Co-curated by Ademola Olugebefola, participating artists include: Inge Hardison, Aleathia Brown, Rodriguez Calero, Marcos Dimas, Mark Gagnon, Susan Grossman, M. Scott Johnson, Nina Olson, Ademola Olugebefola, Lynn Ruffins Cave, Reuben Sinha, Todd Stone and Grace Williams.

Barbara Horowitz, President and Founder of Community Works, said, “What an amazing eclectic mix of art works we are surrounded by, reflecting the diverse communities of Central Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and beyond, with works by Harlem icons and young artists carrying on the tradition of art as a reflection of community. harlem is… Art is very special to Community Works because it is our first fine art exhibition, but it is not our last. We envision, in the coming months, a series of rotating exhibits at multiple locations.�

Beyond the diversity of the work and the array of talent, one is struck by the presence of both Master artists such as 91-year old sculptor Inge Hardison and seasoned collagist Grace Williams. Emerging voices such as sculptor M. Scott Johnson, who apprenticed with one of Zimbabwe’s foremost sculptors for three years, lend a fresh presence to the collection. The paintings are no less distinguished: From Rodriguez Calero’s haunting portraits of Black men in her pieces Urban Apocalypse and Apartheid to the humanity in Susan Grossman’s large-scale piece, Running Upriver. Alethia Brown’s Jubalee is quite simply joy-in-motion.

Marcos Dimas, Artistic Director of the East Harlem based Taller Boricua/Puerto Rican Workshop Inc. and one of its original founders, paints in the tradition of world-renowned Cuban artist Wilfredo Lam, drawing upon Africa, the Americas and Europe in his work. The influence of his artistic predecessor is apparent in the evocative Figuras de Boma.
The exhibition, like Harlem, has an infinitely global feel. Jamaican-born, Harlem-bred artist, Grace Williams says it best: “A new history is being written in Harlem. Both Harlem and the Global community are transforming at a rapid pace. Art, as always, will be at the vanguard in documenting these changing communities…â€?

“It is the role of the Harlem Arts Alliance to provide a place for its members to be showcased. This exhibition provides great exposure for all participating artists,� added Voza Rivers, Chair, of the Harlem Arts Alliance. Fittingly enough, the second exhibition in the rotating series is harlem is… Art: A Celebration of Weusi Artists saluting the 42nd Anniversary of the Weusi and featuring a collection of art from its leading artists. The exhibition will open at the Hamilton Landmark Galleries on August 16th for a one-month stay. The Weusi were a group of local artists who formed the first African-American collective to devote itself exclusively to studying African art. In 1967, members of group opened the Nyumba Ya Sanaa Gallery in Harlem as an alternative to mainstream exhibition spaces for black art. Their work served as both a bridge and a light for African-American artists seeking to explore the relationship between Africa and America through their creative work.

harlem is… Art is an important new component of harlem is…, Community Works’ landmark public art exhibition that celebrates the rich history, culture and individuals of this world-renowned community. harlem is… was created through the lens of 200 Harlem public school students who researched and documented local Harlem heroes and neighborhoods. Launched in February 2003, this celebrated multi-layered exhibition has traveled throughout Upper Manhattan. In December 2004, harlem is… embarked on a partnership with Harlem Arts Alliance and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council to present the harlem is…exhibition at major cultural, historical and faith-based institutions in Downtown Manhattan. To date, harlem is… has reached over 200,000 students and community members.

To learn more about the harlem is… Art exhibit on display through August 10th or any of Community Works’ other programs, special events and/or exhibitions; please call: (212) 459 – 1854 or visit the website: www.communityworksnyc.org. For more reports remember to click on “subscribe� on our home page or call (212) 481-7745 to get the newsstand edition of The Black Star News, the world’s favorite Pan-African news weekly.

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