On October 24th, at a ceremony at the Bass Art Museum, I received an Ellie Award from the ArtCenter / South Florida. This is the first year for the awards, and I am VERY excited to be a recipient. #TheEllies, #MiamiVisualArtsAwards, #ACSF See:
My project is to make 40 x 60 inch mixed media portraits of people (now in their 70s & 80s) who patronized The Hampton House (located in Brownsville) during the 1950s and '60s, when prominent African-American political leaders, entertainers, and athletes stayed at The Hampton House because they were not allowed to stay in Miami Beach due to Segregation. In addition, I will record video interviews with each of the people I portray (who will be holding photos of themselves from back in the day). I will donate the portraits and videos to The Historic Hampton House, where they will be exhibited. You can learn more about my portraits, four of which are in the collection of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and have been exhibited there, at http://www.rayelman.com/
Prominent African-Americans who stayed at, or performed at, The Hampton House include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke, Duke Ellington, Sammy Davis Jr. and many more. You can learn more about The Hampton House on the Inspicio arts publication platform: https://goo.gl/NZ5VEv
Coincidentally, a production of “One Night in Miami,” a play about the night Cassius Clay beat Sonny Liston to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World, and celebrated afterward at The Hampton House, is opening tonight (10/24/18) at The Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. The play places four real-life friends – Cassius Clay, Malcom X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown – in a room at The Hampton House. I still vividly remember listening to that fight on a radio in my freshman dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania. Hopefully, I will be recording video interviews with playwright Kemp Powers and director Carl Cofield over the next few days.
The Ellies Creator Awards
The Creator Awards support working artists with grants of $2,500 to $25,000 to realize a significant visual arts project that will advance their careers. ArtCenter is looking for bold ideas that speak to our community and our times. These awards are open to all Miami-Dade artists. Preference will be given to artists who partner with museums, alternative spaces or other local nonprofit arts organizations to present these projects.
ArtCenter / South Florida
The ArtCenter has served as a catalyst for the South Florida arts community for the past 30 years and it continues to re-invent itself and stay current to better serve the community and the artists’ needs. Since 2014, the Studio Residency program has been restructured with support from the Knight Foundation. Through its Studio Residency and Visiting Artist Program, ArtCenter seeks to advance artists careers and attract and retain talent from all over the world.
I arrived in Provincetown in 1970, when I was twenty-five, welcomed by older artists and writers, many of whom became my friends. Over the years, in addition to making art and exhibiting on the Outer Cape and elsewhere, I have served as a Trustee and Officer of the Provincetown Art Association & Museum, as President of the Provincetown Group Gallery, as board member of the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, and as Co-founder/ Publisher / Editor of Provincetown Arts magazine.
Robert Motherwell often said that he chose to live and work in Provincetown because of the “Mediterranean light,” and because of the easy camaraderie amongst the art community. B.H. Friedman wrote, “In Provincetown everything happens in the streets and on sidewalks. In the Hamptons there are no sidewalks. Everything happens behind tall hedges.”
In 1989, after a half-lifetime of making only abstract art, I started making paintings portraying the art colony at leisure – what people do when they are not working – documenting the fabric of life in the art colony that draws people back every year.
The first painting in this series portrayed E.J. Kahn, Jr. (veteran New Yorker writer) and Palmer Williams (Executive Producer of Sixty Minutes) playing backgammon outdoors on the edge of the National Seashore – in positions reminiscent of Cezanne’s “The Card Players.” The painting is 6 x 5 feet.
Since then I have made over 160 paintings in this series of notable talents such as Norman Mailer, Robert Motherwell, Stanley Kunitz, Alan Dugan, Douglas Heubler, Justin Kaplan, Joel Meyerowitz, Annie Dillard, Mark Strand, Sebastian Junger, Alec Wilkinson, Varujan Boghosian, Budd Hopkins, Paul Resika, Mischa Richter, Al Jaffee, Lee Falk, Anne Bernays, Jane Leavy, Daniel Okrent, Alice Brock, Susan Orlean, Jhumpa Lahiri, Robert Pinsky, Knox Martin. The dimensions of most pieces are either 60 x 43 inches or 40 x 30 inches.
I envision continuing this series for the rest of my days, thereby creating a unique documentation of life in one of the world’s most interesting art colonies.