Cultural nutrition

Harlem Fine Arts Show shares dialogue and history through dynamic artists.

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The Harbor View Hotel was full of activity last weekend as hundreds of people visited a traveling art show that has become a fixture of the Vineyard summer season.

The Harlem Fine Arts Show (HFAS) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and for the past five years, Martha’s Vineyard has been among the show’s annual destinations. The show is described as “the largest traveling African diasporic art show in the United States.”

Since its inception in 2009, HFAS has had over 80,000 visitors, traveled to 10-plus cities and showcased over 100 artists and galleries.

From Saturday, August 11, through Monday, August 13, the show occupied the public spaces at the Harbor View. The artists and galleries were concentrated in the hotel’s two ballrooms, but work was also displayed in the lobby and hallways. A series of talks took place throughout the weekend, featuring artists and authors.

One of the most popular of the speakers was Sybil Morial, the wife of New Orleans’ first African American mayor, Ernest Morial, and the mother of Urban League President Marc Morial. Her book “Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment” documents her childhood years living in a segregated New Orleans, through her time as civil rights activist and eventually, successful academic.

A talk by acclaimed artist Ted Ellis, who has been part of the HFAS for four years, was also very well attended. “Ellis’ portrait, Obama, the 44th President,” was presented in honor of the 2009 presidential Inauguration.

Other artists of note featured in the show include Roederick Vines of Atlanta, who painted on the premises as well as showcasing his work, abstract artist Thomas Lockhart III and Ghana-born sculptor Alfred Addo.

Many of the other artists whose work was on display were in attendance, giving guests the opportunity to hear about the methods, mission, and history of individuals from all over the world.

A number of galleries were also represented in the show, displaying work by artists among their fold.

The exhibit included American artists as well as participants from points all across the globe including Africa, Haiti, and the Caribbean. Representing the Vineyard this year was a nonprofit organization called PeaceQuilts, which supports women artisans in Haiti through sales and business assistance.

“We bring something called cultural nutrition,” says HFAS founder Dion Clark. “We get the opportunity to share the dialogue and the history of the African diaspora.”

The HFAS website explains the mission of the organization, stating, “The goal of facilitating this coming together is to showcase cultural ideas and raise awareness of the extraordinary body of work created by these international, national and local artists.” Clark notes that the HFAS has found the perfect venue at the Harbor View, their Island home for the past three years. “They’re not just a rental but a partnership,” he says.

The Vineyard is one of the four established destinations for the show, along with New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. “Martha’s Vineyard is a historic destination,” says Clark. “Not only for people of color but for people of all colors.”