Manhattan Times – Washington Heights Edition | December 6, 2001
By Donna LeSchander
A bit of the downtown art scene came uptown on November 30 in the form of an art show and reception at the Rio Penthouse Gallery at 10 Fort Washington Avenue in Washington Heights. NURTUREart Non-Profit Inc., an arts services organization committed to helping emerging vlsual artists to become
full-time, self-supporting professionals, presented NURTUREart Off Broadway. This exhibition recognized the work of three multi-media artists and the recent “Literacy Through Art” workshops they led throughout the month of November for local teens, as well as featuring artwork by the students themselves. Students, artists and art-lovers shared food and drinks at the closing reception on
November 30 while enjoying the artwork.
George Robinson, founder and Executive Director of NURTUREart, enlisted the expertise of professional artists Grimanesa Amoros, Robert Martinez and Jennifer Ross in conducting three Saturday Literacy-Through-Art Workshops For Teens. “These workshops not only enhance artistic ‘literacy’ but also
actual literacy in the English language,” Robinson says. “Although two of the three artists speak Spanish, all workshops were conducted in English; most of these young people have English as their second language.” The group of 10-15 teens who participated in the NURTUREart workshops made the rounds of all three artists’ studios – Martinez’ at the Rio Gallery, Amoros’ in TriBeCa, and Ross’ in Long Island City. Participants were found through outreach in the Rio housing complex and the surrounding neighborhood; they received pre-workshop homework and instruction in English in addition to their participation in the art workshops.
Ellen Baxter, director of Broadway Housing (which includes the Rio) says, “We wholeheartedly appreciate the energy, enthusiasm and professional caliber of the educational arts program NURTUREart has provided to neighborhood children and tenants and staff of the Rio in Washington Heights…the collaboration with NURTUREart has been mutually respectful and supportive, straightforward and inspiring. The concrete benefits NURTUREart NonProfit, Inc. has provided the Rio and the children will clearly extend well beyond the one-month course of NURTUREart Off Broadway.”
All throughout November, student work shared the wall space of the Rio Gallery with the impressive work of the three participating artists: hand-made paper embossed with colorful stamped shapes and drawings and collages depicting popular media icons were some of the offerings of the young participants. Martinex’ graffiti-inspired multi-media paintings and drawings, Ross’ bright acrylic depictions of boy bands, TV stars and other youth-oriented subjects (complete with handmade LEG0 frames) and Amoros’ pictograph wall hangings, inspired by her travels to West Africa, formed an impressive professional backdrop for the student work. “These kids were really amazing,” notes Robert Martinez, himself a born-and-bred New Yorker whose graffiti-inspired drawings echo with the rhythms of the city. “(These workshops) are the kind of thing all kids need.”
NURTUREart exhibitions and workshops are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and with the support of New York City Councilman, Stanley E. Michels. The Committee for the Heights-Inwood Homeless youth development program was initiated in the fall of 1998 to enhance English proficiency and academic skills of new immigrant youth from Washington Heights through the tools of art and music. Founded in 1997 by former art curator George J. Robinson, NURTUREart NonProfit Inc. maintains a registry of artists, mounts exhibitions at host sites in the New York metropolitan area, and sponsors a range of educational activities to benefit the public and assist emerging artists. Further information on NURTUREart programs is available at www.nurtureart.org