This month, The Romare Bearden Foundation held its annual fundraiser for the ongoing support of its arts programs in schools and throughout the city, one of which is an educational fund for art teachers to teach in NYC schools. “We have artists who we’ve trained and placed in the school system to teach our kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum which we’ve developed all based on Bearden’s life and work,” co-director Deidra Harris-Kelley told TNJ.com.
The Foundation “is a nonprofit organization by the artist’s estate to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of Romare Bearden (1911-1988), an American artist of African-American heritage, who is widely acknowledged as one of the most talented and original visual artists of the twentieth century.”
From 1991 to 1996, the artist’s wife, Nanette Rohan Bearden, was the president of the Foundation.
According to Harris-Kelley, the Board “sees him [Bearden] as one of the masters of the 20th century and we want to make his work and his ideals accessible to the public.”
Established in 1990, the Foundation hosts a core set of programs that include arts education initiatives, traveling exhibitions, mentoring and a national symposium series that encourages new scholarship on Bearden. The Foundation also hold Bearden’s archives and library, which is made available to scholars.
Held at The Lighthouse in Chelsea Piers, the big bash entitled, A New Odyssey, was hosted by journalist T.J. Holmes and showcased Bearden’s passion for art and music. His Excellency John William Ashe, President of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, accepted an award from the foundation. Mr. Simmie Knox, a noted portraitist whose portfolio includes President William J. Clinton and former NYC mayor David Dinkins, was also honored at the event. His award was accepted in his absence by board member Ambassador Robert F. Van Lierop.
Guests were offered the opportunity to buy at the onsite auction during the evening or make a donation.
The event brought out many supporters and art enthusiasts including Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, author, scholar and sociology professor at Georgetown University, who shared with TNJ.com his thoughts on art. “In elementary school in Detroit, Michigan, I wanted to be a visual artist. Arts education is extremely important. I think art helps people articulate ideas about beauty, about love, about truth… It helps us come to a better understanding about each other; it gives us a sense of identification with fellow human beings; and it enriches our appreciation for the greatness for the world in which we live.”
Proceeds from the evening’s silent auction will fund the Foundation’s ongoing arts initiatives.