New York, NY, February 16, 2015: The 6th Annual Harlem Fine Arts Show (HFAS) – the largest African Diasporic Art Show in the nation – kicked off its 2015 exhibition and sale held at Harlem’s historic Riverside Church from February 12-15. The four-day exhibition featured contemporary paintings, sculptures, and photography reflecting the African Diaspora. The event was sponsored by United Airlines, AARP, Amtrak, NBA and Aetna. More than 7,500 of New York’s affluent art enthusiasts and business professionals had the opportunity to experience artwork from over 40 artists, enjoy contemporary jazz and network. World-renowned Chelsea Galleries such as ACA Galleries and Bill Hodges were showcased and complimented with established artists like Woodrow Nash, Frank Frazier and Leroy Campbell as well as legendary photographer Chuck Stewart. The global reach of the art exhibition included works from Thabiso Phokompe and Color Me Africa Fine Art from Southern Africa and Ti Jay from Ghana. The show debuted up-and-coming artist Aaron Fowler, whose alma maters include Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Yale University, from St. Louis, Missouri.
The 2015 Harlem Fine Arts Show honored notable newspaper publishers for their outstanding dedication to the African-American community. Honorees included Elinor Tatum – The Amsterdam News, Karl Rodney – Carib News, Paul Jackson – Harlem Times and Walter Smith – The New York Beacon.
“It’s important to salute the trailblazers in black media,” HFAS founder, Dion Clarke said. “They provide us with the insight and an alternative perspective on the issues facing what goes on in the lives of multicultural individuals.”
Inspired by their commitment to bring quality jazz performances and educational programs to NYC residents, HFAS was proud to honor Jazzmobile during their 50th Anniversary as this year’s beneficiary at the opening night reception, which took place on February 12. Throughout the weekend, guests were entertained by jazz bands Cliff Lee Plus Three and the Sugar Hill Quartet. They also enjoyed hors’deouvres and signature cocktails sponsored by Bombay Sapphire.
Over the four day event, distinguished guests included: Manhattan Borough President, Gale A. Brewer, Spike Lee, Sherri Shepherd, Malcolm Lee, former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine Susan Taylor, Ann Tripp of WBLS radio, retired NBA players, among others.
On Friday, February 13, 1,500 students, teachers and chaperones came out for Youth Empowerment Day. This event welcomed elementary through high school students in the five boroughs focusing on S.T.E.A.M., with specific concentration on the arts and featured the play, “A Woman’s Courage”, produced by Shades of Jade Entertainment. The piece taught students about the lives of Sojourner Truth and Ida B. Wells. The students had the opportunity to tour the galleries, speak to artists and to buy original pieces. A few students even brought their own artwork for critiquing and expressed an interest in coming back next year.
Beverly Pascal-Miller, Principal of P.S. 246 in the Bronx said, “What an awesome experience for both my teachers and students. Teachers returned (to school) excited about how well organized the exhibit and tour were. The students were excited about seeing the myriad of art and being able to ask questions of the artists. They learned about recyclable art, paintings and sculptures. Receiving an original work from an artist (Margerine Gordon) to hang in our building was the paramount moment of their entire experience. They were overjoyed to learn that even though the trip would end, they were invited to send pictures of their artwork, which possibly could become part of an exhibit. Every public school student should be given an opportunity to experience HFAS”.
The Winston and Carolyn Lowe lecture series held a panel discussion on Saturday morning that focused on arts education and social consciousness.
“Contemporary art doesn’t make sense because the contemporary world doesn’t make sense”, said Jordana Spaggese — Associate Professor of Contemporary Art, California Institute of Art.
Other panelist included Kent Deveraux — President, New Hampshire Institute of Arts, the largest and oldest art school in New Hampshire, Dorian Bergen — President and Chief Curator, ACA Gallery, and Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw — Associate Professor of Art History, University of Pennsylvania.
The lecture series concluded, as highly acclaimed director Malcolm Lee introduced the play “Fallen Angel,” at the Riverside Theater. Spike Lee joined the audience with his family as their uncle Cliff Lee performed a prelude with his jazz band Cliff Lee Plus Three. The one-man show, performed by their uncle Donald Stone, focused on the life and legacy of the Lee family.
The art exhibits were open throughout the HFAS weekend culminating on Sunday with Actress and TV personality Sherri Shepherd purchasing several pieces of work from Robert Carter and Water Kolours Fine Art. Over $4 million of art were sold during the four-day show.
The HFAS, which launched in 2009, has steadily grown to include a cumulative attendance of more than 60,000 people over the past six years. In addition to New York City, the show currently tours Martha’s Vineyard, Washington, D.C. and Chicago each year.