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Parks Community Celebrates Black History Month With Art Exhibition

Friday, January 30, 2009
No. 4

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is pleased to announce “The African American Experience,” an exhibition of over thirty artworks including photographs, paintings, quilts, and ceramics on view at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue. More than twenty artists, Parks & Recreation employees, retirees, and members of recreation centers and programs throughout the city have contributed artwork for the exhibition.

“This exciting collection of artwork by professional artists as well as current and former Parks employees offers poignant interpretations of the African American experience in New York City parks and in America,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “As the city celebrates the inauguration of the nation’s first African American president, we are pleased to present this timely exhibition in conjunction with Black History Month.”

This year’s contributions include Victor Polanco’s Botanic, a large-scale abstract painting with strong black swirling shapes rendered carefully over a multihued background, as well as Laura Mazza’s evocative depiction of an African boy with a beehive as a stomach rendered in oil paint. Ephraim Asili is exhibiting Portrait #1, a colorful quilt made during the 2008 Presidential campaign which comprises Obama tee shirts purchased in West Philadelphia.

This exhibition also features a series of black and white photographs from the Parks Department archive highlighting the African American experience in New York City’s public parks. As a companion to this section additional photographs have been posted on the Parks & Recreation website,

Other artists included in the exhibition are Anthony Almeida, Glenn Angel Echevarria, Ying Goodson, Corinne Innis, Darlene Lewis, Pelham Fritz Quilting and Craft Circle, Darren Phillips, Malcolm Pinckney, and Ansel Pitcairn.

Since the early 1980s, the Arsenal Gallery has presented a diverse schedule of art and history exhibitions dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, and park history. Committed to providing unaffiliated artists, independent curators, and non-profit organizations with an accessible exhibition venue, the Arsenal Gallery welcomes exhibition proposals (the guidelines are posted on the website).

This exhibition is organized in conjunction with Parks & Recreation’s Ebony Society Black History Committee which has helped organized an annual Black History Month exhibition with the Arsenal Gallery since 1991.

The Arsenal Gallery is located at 830 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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