Now In its fourth year on the Vineyard, the traveling Harlem Fine Arts Show has expanded its range to include a number of leading authors, as well as visual artists, representing the nations and communities that make up the African diaspora.
“As we have evolved, we are expanding,” says founder Dion Clarke. Established in 2009, the Harlem Fine Arts Show is the largest traveling African diaspora art show in the United States. Visitors to the show’s multiple destinations, including regular stops in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., have numbered 60,000-plus.
What makes the Harlem Fine Arts Show more than simply an exhibition is the presence of many of the artists — and this time around, the authors — whose work is spotlighted. “We’ve stepped it up bigtime this year,” says Mr. Clark. “We’ve turned it into a little festival.” Among those on hand for the three-day event will be 12 representatives from the international art community and 10 authors from around the country.
“More than anything else, the artists and the authors get to interact with the consumers,” says Mr. Clarke. “They get to have that one-on-one.”
Also added to the mix this year will be a panel discussion on race relations hosted by NewsOne, the preeminent online source for news and information for and about blacks in America.
This year’s event, which will be centered at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown and expects 5,000 attendees, will kick off on Monday, August 10, with live jazz music on the lawn. An art exhibition and sale will be held indoors for the duration of the festival, from August 10 through August 12. Throughout the festival, a number of special events are scheduled, including artists’ talks, cocktail parties, receptions, and performances by the James Austin Jazz Quartet.
The festival will also incorporate a Youth Empowerment Day on Wednesday, August 12, at the YMCA. Professor Pauline Mosley of Pace University will be talking to kids and giving a demonstration of steam robotics.
The festival’s featured artist will be Congressional Awardwinner Ted Ellis. Mr. Ellis, known for his depictions of African-American history and culture, has been honored for his work as well as his entrepreneurship and educational efforts. His acrylic painting of Barack Obama was presented in honor of the 2009 presidential inauguration. Mr. Ellis’ work has been purchased by a number of celebrities, including Bryant Gumbel, Angela Bassett, Spike Lee, and Brad Pitt.
Other preeminent artists who will be in attendance include former New York Jets and Washington Redskins running back George Nock; Jamaican-born Michael Escoffery, who includes Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou among his patrons; jazz artist Verna Hart, whose work has graced a Branford Marsalis album cover and was featured in Spike Lee’s film “Mo Better Blues”; renowned Haitian artist Jean-Claude Legagneur; and rising star in the Brazilian art world Sara Moreira.
A special collection of South African original art will also be available for sale.
Among the authors on hand will be White House correspondent April Ryan; MSNBC host Touré Neblett; Helen Williams, mother of Vanessa Williams; Sana Shabazz (“Why Women Cry”); Jonathan Augustine (“The Keys Are Being Passed: Race, Law, Religion and the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement”); and Pamela Newkirk (the New York Times–reviewed “Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga”).
Throughout the three days, there will be various scheduled talks and discussions with many of the participants. As well as the opening-day panel on race, a second discussion on Tuesday will focus on black publishing.
An Authors’ Pavilion, located on the Harbor View lawn, will feature many of the writers as well as representatives from Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. The exhibition and events are all free, thanks to underwriting by the show’s title sponsor United Airlines. Other sponsors include Amtrak, the Jamaica Tourist Board, the American Heart Association, and Pepsico.
Mr. Clark is happy with the success of his mission to promote diversity by bringing the work of African diaspora artists to audiences and schoolchildren throughout the nation. “We’re just proud to be back on Martha’s Vineyard,” says Mr. Clark. “It’s always a pleasure to be working with the community there, and bring a style of art and different faces to the American culture there.”
Harlem Fine Arts Show, August 10 through August 12, from 11 am to 10 pm. Harbor View Hotel. Youth Empowerment Day at the YMCA on August 12 from 9:25 to 11:25 am. All events are free. Shuttle-bus service to and from the exhibit will be available. Schedules, information, and Invitations to the cocktail parties can be found at HFAS.org.