Martha’s Vineyard will host Harlem Fine Arts Show

Local summer resident Glenn Tunstull will have work like "Canopies" in the Harlem Fine Art Show. — Photo courtesy of Cousen Rose Gallery

For 15 years, New Yorkers have had the opportunity to enjoy a massive annual art show that encompasses the work of African American artists from all over the world.

The National Black Fine Arts Show, which ran from 1997 through 2009, was succeeded by the Harlem Fine Art Show, which in its fourth year this past February hosted more than 80 artists and was viewed by 10,000 people at the historic Riverside Church in Harlem. Now the show – or a portion of it – is coming to the Vineyard for the first time.

The Harlem Fine Art Show will be presented here for four days, August 9–12, at a location to be announced. Two local artists, Glenn Tunstull and Myrna Morris, will participate. The show will kick off with an opening reception on Thursday, Aug 9, from 6 to 9:30 pm.

Vineyard summer resident Henry Louis “Skip” Gates will emcee the event, which is hosted in partnership with the Washington Post’s online magazine Root. Over the course of the four days, visitors can view a wide range of art, meet the artists and purchase work in price ranges from $50 to $20,000.

More than 30 national and international artists will be represented. Among them are internationally acclaimed painter Paul Goodnight, featured in Architectural Digest, Ebony, and People Magazine. His work hangs in the Smithsonian and is in the collections of a number of celebrities and public figures.

Internationally known sculptor Woodrow Nash; armless Haitian artist Herold Alvares, who paints with his mouth and feet; and up-and-coming watercolor portraitist Jeanine Primm Jones also will participate.

“We’ve picked the best from the best of the New York show,” says show founder and director Dion Clarke. Featured in the Vineyard show will be the work of Mr. Tunstull, a part-time Islander who shows at the Cousen Rose Gallery in Oak Bluffs.

The Harlem Fine Arts Show was launched in 2009 after the demise of the National Black Art Show. Mr. Clarke previously handled marketing for the latter through his company, JWD Enterprises, a diversity marketing company. The Harlem Fine Arts Show moved from its predecessor’s location at the iconic Puck Building to its current space in Riverside Church. The New York show is held annually in February in honor of Black History Month and features a preview party at the New York Times building in midtown Manhattan.

Prior to the first day of the New York show, thousands of teens from area schools are invited to view the show for free in an event called Diversity Prep Day. Part of the proceeds are earmarked every year for a local nonprofit. That philanthropy extends to the satellite art shows that the organization holds each year in surrounding areas. At least one nonprofit benefits from Harlem Fine Art Shows events in Philadelphia, Newark, New Haven, Long Island, and elsewhere.

A portion of the proceeds from the Vineyard show will go towards “Pathways to your Success,” an MVTV-hosted career education TV program. Pathways founder and host Natalie Dickerson is the local representative for the Harlem Fine Arts Show festival. She has recruited a number of local people to host 90-minute presentations throughout the course of the four-day event.

“I’ve gathered people who do interesting things on the Island,” she says. Included in the lineup are Mister G. of Hip Hop Foods, photographer Michael Johnson, and wedding concierge India Rose.

Says Ms. Dickerson, “Because we’re promoting this on and off the Island, we want to let people know what the Island is about see and what talented people are here.”

Mr. Clarke and his wife have both spent summers on the Vineyard since they were kids. “We feel that the Vineyard represents a great national multicultural forum,” says Mr. Clarke. “It celebrates such a multicultural collage of people who have come from all over the U.S. and the world. We wanted to be part of that celebration.”

Of the art show, he says, “It’s not a black show, quote, unquote. We think it is so important in this day and time, with a multicultural president representing diversity in our nation, to embrace that ideal.”

The show’s promoters were still working out the logistics of the location for the show last week. Admission is a $15 donation. Tickets for the preview party are $20. Visit for more information.