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Artists Speaking for the Spirits

James Brown
James Brown

40 Activist Artists Make Murals and Black History ‘Artists Speaking for the Spirits’ is Largest Campaign of Its Kind

BROOKLYN, NY (January, 2010) Thursday, February 4th from 6-9pm is the Black History Month opening of “Artists Speaking for the Spirits,” a glorious exhibition of 40 mural-sized paintings at Arthur Bennett Hall in downtown Brooklyn. Enjoy live entertainment in celebration of a historic artist/social agency collaboration.

Otto Neals, James Denmark, Betty Blayton, Emmett Wigglesworth, Dindga McCannon, Ademola Olugebefola, Carlton Murrell, Robert Daniels, Mary Chang, Che Baraka, Sonia Lynn Sadler, Bernard Deseignora, Jide Ojo, Wilda Gonzalez, Herbert Bennett, Linda Hiwot, Ramona Candy, Jean Dominique Volcy, Brent Bailer, Karl McIntosh, MLJ Johnson, Beryl Benbow, Aleathia Brown, James Brown and Doba Afolabi, are among the revered and emerging artists benefitting their communities. Their work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, National Museum of Ghana, Spellman College, Sidney Poitier, David Rockefeller and others.

Project organizers enrolled artists in a historic initiative to introduce the healing power of art into the various therapeutic settings at the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation and its affiliate, Urban Resource Institute (ARTC-URI). The agencies offered artists canvas, materials and studio space. Beny J. Primm, M.D., ARTC executive director and president of URI, says: “The artists’ legacy will be iconoclastic, and will add to what ARTC and URI are offering to the community.”

James Brown

The works on display range from glorious jewel-toned pieces to ethereal pastels. Represented are traditional, contemporary and Afro-futuristic themes as well as the political, spiritual and satirical. The paintings will hang at ARTC-URI headquarters to be enjoyed by those seeking care and are also available for acquisition by collectors and corporations.

The artists are generously donating a significant percentage of the proceeds to enhance the institution’s services. A portion of each sale will be tax-deductible. Artists are also volunteering time to conduct workshops for ARTC-URI patients and consumers, who find joy, potential and self-regard through creating art. “Artists Speaking for the Spirits” is the debut project of ARTCURIAN, a ground-breaking initiative of ARTC-URI, two of New York City’s largest not-for-profit human service providers, with 14 facilities in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.

Sonia Lynn Sadler Dancing in the Spirit of Hope

ARTC, among New York’s largest non-hospital-based addiction rehabilitation programs, delivers medical and support services to thousands battling addiction and its related diseases, including HIV/AIDS and mental illness. URI operates a city-wide transportation network for the severely disabled, job training, placement services and group homes for the developmentally disabled and the city’s second-largest emergency residential program for families endangered by domestic violence.

Director of public affairs Charles Bailey is overseeing this initiative, representing Dr. Primm, a longtime collector who made possible the artful collaboration. Lead artist-in-residence Emmett Wigglesworth conceived and curated the project along with artist-in-residence Ogundipe Fayomi. Artists Herb Bennett, Betty Blayton, Che Baraka and project coordinator Wendy Jones also serve on the steering committee, which has created a remarkable exhibition with heart.

The Artcurian Mural Project is the largest group of paintings of this size ever created by a group of African, African American, Caribbean and Latin American artists inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and other cultural movements. The exhibition will feature a second group of artists this summer. Opening weekend hours are: Fri, 11-5, Sat and Sun 3-6.

The remaining Black History Month schedule is: Thurs-Fri 11-5 and Sun 3-6, with artist-talks each Sunday. Visitors and school groups are welcome by appointment. For info and to RSVP for the opening reception, call 718-260-2909 or visit www.artcurian.org. Arthur Bennett Hall is located at 22 Chapel Street near Jay St., between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges

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