Starving Artist Art Show Lures Collectors, Community

Art enthusiasts and community members gathered Friday night at the Child Development Support Corporation’s Third Annual Starving Artist Art Show and Sale.

Held over the weekend, the show aimed to raise funds to renovate a community art center located in the CDSC building on Classon Avenue. Previously a one-day art show and sale, this year’s event was extended over the weekend offering free art classes, such as puppet making, graphic design and music classes for adults and kids.

The ground floor of the CDSC building was converted into an art gallery. Attendees mingled with the artists, listening to personal explanations about the inspiration behind the art. Works constructed from many different mediums adorned the yellow walls. Pieces included photographs by Jennifer Holder and Gianna Leo Falcon, water colors in tattoo ink by Mistah Metro, digital prints inspired by 1920s Russian posters by Alyona Makeeva, and oil paintings and interactive art by Ziedah Giovanni. Subjects varied wildly from photographs of parrots, flowers and reflected surfaces to animals and self-portraits.

Each year the show’s curators select an artist and a work to highlight. This year the featured work was James Mingo’s “Who Is that Lady” — a portrait of a woman with her back facing the viewer created by a “combination of photography and drawing all done digitally.”

Paintings created by children from the neighborhood were also on sale. As part of the art show, CDSC held six art workshops for participants ages 5-18 last November through December. The classes were conducted by professional artist Kimberly Carmody, founder of Urban River Arts, a non-profit arts organization in Crown Heights, and Sophia Dawson, the featured artist at last year’s Starving Artist show. Both had pieces in this year’s show and together they are going to serve as resident artists for the new arts center.

CDSC is a community-based social service organization that provides child-care services, educational programs for families and after-school programs.

Marcia Rowe-Riddick, executive director of CDSC, said that the decision to build an art center stemmed from the need her organization saw in the community for an after-school program that provides not just tutoring but opportunities for self-expression. “We are trying to bring them off the street corner, to a space where they can actually be creative,” she said. Ms Rowe-Riddick believes that “if they are able to create, dance and paint, they will be more interested in coming in –- then we will sneak in the tutoring, get some school work in there.”

The inspiration for the name of the show, said Ms. Rowe-Riddick, resulted from her interactions with some graduates from Pratt who live down the block, and who frequently lament that they can barely survive making art for a living. “The majority of folks who have presented their art here live in Brooklyn, or are graduates from Pratt, and they keep returning year after year,” she explained.

Over 30 artists exhibited their work and 50 percent of the proceeds from sales went to the individual artists with the other half going to support the Community Art Center. Priced from $40 to $500, there was art to suit every budget, and the event lured both art collectors and community members.

Lena Hayes, a board member of CDSC, said, “even if you don’t have money to buy its just a pleasant experience to be around this level of art, right here in your own community.” Kathryn Peterson, who has attended every year, felt that the quality of work was “on the same level as something you would see in galleries in the Lower East Side or Chelsea. But it’s not a big name, so something here that’s going for $200 will be in LES for $2000.”

Published in The New York Times, The Local Blog:

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