Lifelike portrait of Congressman Charlie Rangel by artist Andy Lee delights audience and the ‘Lion of Lennox Ave’
The atmosphere at the Harlem Fine Arts Show (HFAS) gala opening reception at the historic Riverside Church was in a word – ebullient – as the city’s elite inclusive of politicians, musicians, celebrities, educators, national and international artist and art collectors all mingled at the largest event of its kind in the U.S. Nearly 3,000 people attended the opening on Thursdaynight. The show, in its seventh year at Riverside Church continued through Sunday.
One of the highlights of the evening was the unveiling of a life like portrait of Congressman Rangel by Andy Lee that drew delighted gasps from the audience. In saluting the Congressman, Assemblyman Keith Wright painted his own portrait of a dedicated public servant who is one of two Congressman to ever serve his predominately Harlem district (Adam Clayton Powell was the first), calling the Congressman the ‘lion of Lennox Ave.” And the Congressman, during his remarks, left no doubt as to his choice to succeed him in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Harlem Fine Art Show also recognized a “favorite sister”, model turned celebrity lifestyle maven Barbara ‘B’ Smith. During the early years of the HFAS, Smith, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, served as emcee for the event. It was clear from the reception she received there is still much genuine affection for her among the HFAS family. B’s husband Dan Gasby spoke passionately about the couple’s struggle with her diagnosis that has been documented in their recently release book, “Before I Forget.” He was insistent that people not ignore even small signs that signal the disease, and shared that the majority of suffers from Alzheimer’s are women. The couple was presented with a beautiful landscape painted by artist Yves Deshommes.
The Show went through Sunday and despite the unexpected snow, over 500 school children from across the Tri-State area children were able to visit the exhibition and interact with the artists. The evening was dubbed “Multi-Cultural Professionals Networking Night”, where groups from enterprises across the city hosted informal reunions. There was an art auction benefitting the United Negro College Fund.
Another highlight of the show was Visions of Our 44th President, a collective sculptural show created to recognize and celebrate the historical significance of the first African American President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. Black Art In America™ hosted the exhibit, featuring works by Barkley L. Hendricks, Charly Palmer, Najee Dorsey, Matthew Gonzales and James Pearson.