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13th annual Black Fine Art Show adds dimension to Black History Month

DEMETRIA IRWIN | 4/12/2011, 4:38 p.m.

The 13th annual Black Fine Art Show dazzled attendees over the Valentine's Day weekend with offerings from 36 fine art dealers. Hundreds of art pieces were on display on an upper floor of a midtown Manhattan building. A wide range of collections were available from an equally diverse roster of artists. The only common factor was that all of the art was original work created by Black artists. There were Obama-inspired watercolor paintings, mixed-media quilts depicting abstract scenes, wooden sculptures of imagined ancestors and much more. Tickets were just $15 and there were discounts for groups, students and two-day passes. Prices for the art itself ranged from under $100 to several thousand dollars.

"The visual art produced by Black artists belongs to the entire world, and not just to a Black audience. We must remember, as we have just proven, the Black communities are, indeed, a significant thread in the fabric of the good old USA. We should all be proud of the artwork that is shown at the National Black Fine Art Show, and the galleries and dealers who bring the art to us," said Joselyn "Josh" Wainwright, producer of the show.

Some of the more provocative pieces proved to be catalysts for conversations about Black history. As one young boy looked at a series of drawings, he asked his grandmother if those people were slaves. Grandma plainly and forwardly explained the concept of sharecropping and why it looked and felt a lot like slavery.

That educational aspect was made more explicit by an enlightening series designed in conjunction with MoCADA, a Brooklyn museum dedicated to using art to address social and political issues in the African diaspora. The panel discussions and tours were for longtime art collectors and novice art lovers alike.

The proceeds from a special preview party held on February 12 went to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and proceeds from the panel discussions and tours went to MoCADA. Local art galleries like Harlem's own Canvas Paper and Stone Gallery were among the galleries showcasing work from all over the country. For more information about the National Black Fine Art Show and to find out about next year's event, visit http://www.blackfineartshow.com.