The spirit of Harlem is Resounding, Magnetic, and Eternal. Spirit of Community, presented by Community Works, features specially commissioned works chronicling the sights, sounds, colors, textures, cadences, and people of Harlem. Over 30 contemporary artists, living and working in Harlem, lend their imagination and innovation to capture the pulse and rhythm that have kept Harlem vibrant and thriving. The collective body of work honors the memories and experiences of Harlem’s residents, celebrates a neighborhood’s storied past and promising future, and reveals the architecture of a place that continues to transcend, evolve, and reinvent itself. The exhibition opens on Tuesday, April 12 with an Opening Reception at 6:30 pm at the Dwyer Cultural Center.
From established, mid-career, emerging, locally and globally known, the Spirit artists envision a Harlem that is multi-dimensional and dynamic. For example, David Shrobe sees a Harlem that inspires social movements in his mixed-media piece “March,” which reinvigorates a generic public march, shot in an archival style, with a recent image of the Sean Bell march in Harlem. Danielle Siegelbaum zooms in on the provocateur that is Harlem. Aptly titled “Legs,” her piece invokes the vivacious nightlife scenes that continue to seduce old-timers and newcomers alike uptown. David Lackey’s short film, “celebrating what Harlem is…” spotlights noted and Harlem-based composer and trombonist Craig Harris as he soars through the skies exploring life’s intricate rhythms. And Lynn Lieberman’s watercolor series, “A Harlem Dream,” renders the architecture of Harlem’s new and old storefronts, churches, jazz clubs, restaurants, and shops as powerful storytellers of a Harlem in constant motion.
“I’ve been inspired by the history of my surroundings and drawn to paint the very places that once were home to the masters of the jazz age as well as the shops and restaurants that are so popular today,” says Lieberman. “Spirit of Community” is a wonderful opportunity for me to show the original artwork of our many storied places, new places and remembered places. This is the first time these originals have been shown.”
Spirit of Community is curated by Paula Coleman, director of Renaissance Fine Art in Harlem. Additional artists in Spirit of Community include: Isabelle Armand, LeRonn P. Brooks, Aleathia Brown, Vladimir Cybil Charlier, Randall Dottin, Myrah Brown Green, Ousmane Gueye, Al Johnson, Ruth Llanillo, Omo Misha, Tomo Mori, New Harlem Renaissance Photographers, John Oko Nyaku, Ademola Olugebefola, Ming Smith, Taijay and Christopher Trujillo. The young, emerging artists include Jordan!™, Darrian Henderson, Deranie Henderson, Ese’ McGlown, and Justin West.
Spirit of Community is part of Community Works’ harlem is… ART series, which explores the rich legacy of art in Harlem with rotating exhibitions that feature works by artists from the community and beyond. Spirit of Community comes on the heels of the widely successful two-part series on the Weusi Collective – the distinguished collective of artists established in Harlem during the 1960s against the backdrop of the Black Arts Movement. During the course of exhibit’s year-long tenure, the Dwyer saw over 20,000 visitors come through its doors. Spirit of Community runs through September, 2011.
The Dwyer Cultural Center is a partnership between Community Works and International Communications Association. Opening its doors in June, 2009, it is the only multi-media cultural center in the world, exclusively dedicated to history, traditions, and artistic and cultural legacy of Harlem.
Public Programs on Spirit of Community will be co-presented with the Harlem Arts Alliance. This program is supported, in part, by Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and by public funds from: National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Council Manhattan Delegation; New York City Council Member Inez E. Dickens; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties. Additional support is provided by International Communications Association, Joseph and Diane Steinberg 1992 Charitable Trust and private contributions.