Celebrate Black History Month at 1st Annual Harlem Fine Arts Show This Weekend
The building itself is worth a visit all on its own: it dates back to 1933 and is Art Deco in style. It was built for the only, solely African American unit of the New York National Guard at that time. The 369th Regiment had already distinguished itself as the first all-African American unit sent to battle overseas, which it did during World War I, albeit under French command due to segregation policies of the US Army.
The men of the "Harlem Hellfighters", as they became known, were greatly decorated. Members were awarded the Croix de Guerre by France -- Private Henry Johnson of this regiment was the first American to ever be so honored -- as well as the US Congressional Medal of Honor, among many other honors. What's more, the regiment's jazz band included many Harlem musicians, and has been credited with introducing jazz to Europe. (Another musical history note, Rafael Hernandez Marin, the celebrated Puerto Rican composer also served in this regiment.) Read more about the history of the regiment here (PDF).
What finer place, then, to peruse and purchase the works of more than 60 artists, working in every media? Among the artists are Houston painter Frank Frazier, whose paintings have been on display at The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, the New York Public Library, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC and many other noted venues. New York metropolitan are artists include fiber artist Sherry Shine, whose art quilt is on the cover of the forthcoming book Journey of Hope: Quilts Inspired by President Barack Obama by Carolyn Mazloomi, Robert Carter, whose work is also on display right now at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, and Brooklyn-based artist Andrew Nichols, who is also the curator of the show. Nichols is known for representational work, often around political themes -- he's the artist that created the show's poster, above, which, incidentally the first 500 attendees will receive gratis.
The Harlem Fine Art Show runs Saturday February 20th (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and Sunday February 21st (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). The Armory is at 2366 Fifth Avenue, between 142nd and 143rd admission is $20 for adults, $10 for children 12 and under. Art work prices start at $100 and go way, way up from there.