Cut paper and hand-printed color, 26×40 inches
Seattle Art Museum Collection
Image courtesy of the artist,
Copyright Barbara Earl Thomas

On Sunday, January  22, 2023, Savona Bailey-McClain, Executive Director of the West Harlem  Art Fund and her organization will present a panel discussion for Master Drawings New York at the Academy of Arts and Letters.

According to Bailey-McClain, “This is our 4th year participating with Master Drawings New York. We have broadened the definition of what masterful art looks like and the artists who create such works. I am delighted to keep these conversations going so we can gain new collectors”.

New Narratives in Museum Collections
Moderated by: Savona Bailey-McClain
Date: Sunday, January 22, 2023
Time: 1 pm
Location: Academy of Arts and Letters, 633 W. 155th Street, NYC 10032

A museum’s life is renewed through  the exchange of fresh perspectives from cultures and traditions around the world. Diversity can be achieved through museum staff who are capable of communicating these stories to a broad audience. Currently, there is a movement to purchase these artworks and show them all over the country. Who is driving this effort? 

In contrast to museums, art dealers are often able to take risks. This can lead to the discovery of hidden treasures or new talent. There are many relationships that dealers use to achieve the goal of encouraging museums and collectors to buy works that are not commonly seen by the public.

Local Media Partner



NEW YORK, NY… This fall an exhibition with multiple narratives and compelling tales that touch on design, print, sculpture and even metalsmithing will envelop the exhibition space NP/10 (Nolan Park, Building 10B) of the West Harlem Art Fund on Governors Island.

The organization is focusing on traditional arts & design that they hope will bring the public closer to these mediums and inspire them to learn more and possibly collect.

The setting on Governors Island is most ideal. A country experience with multiple garden areas, hammocks, wild birds, stunning waterfront views and short ferry ride that encourages the public to engage.

West Harlem Art Fund will also host workshops that they treat as “public residencies” where the public has hands on experience with monoprinting, experimental photography, fiber arts and performance.

Art that Marks Times runs from September 10th through October 30th, 2022

Sketch Art

Domenico Belli — sculpture/outdoor garden
Gilbert Boro — sculpture/outdoor garden
Joe Gitterman — sculpture/outdoor garden
Valerie Hallier — mixed media
Gregory Harris — photography
Megan Haung — Performance/Tap Dancing
Molly Must — Metal Sculpture
Ayala Naphtali — Metalsmithing/Jewelry
Felipe Ortiz — Sketch Art
Christopher Quinones — Print
Rachael Rosenblum — Furniture Design
Red Sagalow — Print
Dianne Smith — Print
James Robert Southard — Sketch Drawing
Toes Tiranoff — Performance/Tap Dancing
Jaleeca Yancy — Fiber Arts/Natural Dyeing


New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the Trust for Governors Island announced a robust calendar of exciting and wide-ranging programs on the Island for this summer, including the return of late nights on Fridays and Saturdays — another critical step in New York City’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s programming highlights the breadth of activities, events, and cultural experiences that can be enjoyed during the warmer months on Governors Island.

“We cannot sit back and wait for our city to recover on its own — we need to showcase all New York City has to offer, and Governors Island should be on the must-see list for every New Yorker and visitor this year,” said Mayor Adams. “There really is something for everyone on the Island, and I can’t wait to go experience it myself.”

“Governors Island attracts locals and tourists alike to its unique, 172-acre lands and award-winning park year-round — but especially during longer days and warmer weather,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “This year’s spring and summer programing offers wonderful experiences in the middle of New York Harbor and further signals that New York City is fully open for business, culture, and play.”

“As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, Governors Island is bustling with activity and is the perfect destination to spend a spring day,” said Clare Newman, president and CEO, Trust for Governors Island. “From transformative arts and cultural experiences to singular environmental and educational programs, to delicious food vendors to brand-new amenities like pétanque, the Island has something for everyone to enjoy. We can’t wait to see you on the ferry this summer.”

The announcement comes at a significant moment in Governors Island’s transformation and Mayor Adams’ ongoing work to bring back New York City’s economy from the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighted summer programs, activities, and visitor amenities announced today include:


Through public art commissions, the annual ‘Organizations in Residence’ program, and public events and programs, ‘Governors Island Arts’ creates transformative encounters with art for all New Yorkers — inviting artists and researchers to engage with the Island’s layered histories, environments, and architecture. ‘Governors Island Arts’ was a key commitment in Mayor Adams’ ‘Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery’ — this announcement marks the second set of new initiatives.

Sam Van Aken’s monumental ‘The Open Orchard,’ which opened to the public on April 29, 2022, welcomes visitors to an orchard com­prised of 102 fruit trees that acts as a liv­ing archive for antique and heir­loom vari­eties that were grown in and around New York City in the past 400 years but have most­ly dis­ap­peared due to cli­mate change and the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of agriculture. Long-term public art installations — including Rachel Whiteread’s ‘Cabin,’ Mark Handforth’s ‘Yankee Hanger,’ Duke Riley’s ‘Not for Nutten,’ and Mark Dion’s ‘The Field Station of the Melancholy Marine Biologist’ — remain on view daily. Shantell Martin’s ‘Church’and ‘The May Room,’commissioned for the 2019 season, have been extended through summer 2022, with the latter open to the public weekends from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Governors Island Arts will continue to announce new commissioned public art installations and projects to debut on the Island throughout the coming months.

Two dozen arts, culture, and education organizations utilize space inside the historic houses of Nolan Park and Colonels Row to present a robust calendar of free public programs, host artist residencies, and engage visitors in special activities for all ages throughout the summer months. Programs from this year’s ‘Organizations in Residence’ will include NADA House from New Art Dealers Alliance, interactive public installations and artist residencies with ArtCrawl Harlem, bird walks from the New York City Audubon Society, art programs and events from American Indian Community House, indoor and outdoor exhibitions from West Harlem Art Fund, public laboratories exploring regeneration and agroforestry from Swale, a site-specific installation from artists of the Philippine diaspora from the NARS Foundation, educational and environmental programs from the Climate Museum, an exhibition addressing the systemic oppression that BIPOC families and communities are fighting to end from the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, and more. Find a full list of participating organizations and artists on the Governors Island website.

“Governors Island continues to be a beacon of joy and openness in our crowded city,” said Merritt Birnbaum, executive director, Friends of Governors Island. “Whether you’re looking for a picturesque bike ride, a lively waterfront dining experience, an arts encounter, or just a tranquil place to relax in hammock, the 2022 line-up offers something for everyone. Through our fundraising efforts, volunteer programs, free walking tours, and other visitor services, the Friends is excited to play a role in helping make Governors Island such a vibrant and welcoming place.”

Exhibition that examines war, conflict and peace will open in Nolan Park this May on Governors Island

New York, NY… The West Harlem Art Fund and Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds, located in Old Lyme, Connecticut, presents 16 artists this spring on Governors Island in Nolan Park. Through the exhibition Life Turned Inside Out, current events are viewed with an emotional lens.

This exhibition shows works that offer hope for those facing today’s challenges in contrast to controlling life and bending circumstances to our will. What are the important issues facing humans today — home, environment, climate, mental health, family, heritage, community, war, and finding joy. How do we build roots and appreciate the colors, shapes, and people around us?

For this show, the setting is just as critical as the art. America has become increasingly concerned about relevancy. Building #10 (NP/10) is an instrumental component of Governors Island’s historic district, and it defines the eastern edge of Nolan Park. As such, its preservation is crucial for preserving the character of the historic district. Nolan Park, or “The Green” as it was called in 19th century documents, is a grassy, lawned enclosure with tree-shaded walks where Native Americans used to live before the Dutch arrived.

Life Turned Inside Out will be on view from May 1, 2022, through June 26, 2022. Public hours are 12 pm to 4 pm on the weekends. Private viewings during the week are by appointment.

A concurrent exhibit with garden, In Defense of the Human Spirit, will feature Domenico Belli, Gilbert Boro, and Joe Gitterman, whose outdoor sculptures will be on display from April 30th (International Sculpture Day) to October 31, 2022.


Gilbert Boro — sculpture
Melita Cekani — painting
Chandler Davis — sculpture
Joe Gitterman — sculpture
Bryan Gorneau — painting
Linda Griggs — painting
Valerie Hallier — painting & installation
Allen Hansen — painting
Elizabeth Knowles — sculpture
Conrad Levenson — sculpture
Elaine Lorenz — sculpture
Elizabeth Miller McCure — sculpture
Dario Mohr — painting
R. Douglass Rice — sculpture
Margaret Roleke — sculpture
Dianne Smith — painting & installation


West Harlem Art Fund (WHAF) is a twenty-four-year-old, public art and new media organization. Like explorers from the past, who searched for new lands and people, WHAF seek opportunities for artists and creative professionals throughout NYC and beyond wishing to showcase and share their talent. The West Harlem Art Fund presents art and culture in open and public spaces to add aesthetic interest; promote historical and cultural heritage; and support community involvement in local development. Our heritage symbol Afuntummireku-denkyemmtreku: is the double crocodile from West Africa Ghana which means unity in diversity.

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds is a vibrant community environment dedicated to arts education and appreciation on the Connecticut shoreline. Their mission is to create a bond between art, nature & community by inspiring and promoting participation in the arts.

Situated adjacent to the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in the historic town of Old Lyme, CT, the 5-acre outdoor park features over 100 sculptures woven throughout different gardens and courtyards. This en plein air art experience allows visitors to enjoy incredible large-scale contemporary sculpture by sculptor Gilbert Boro, as well as many invited contributing artists. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Grounds and interact with the works, perhaps turning kinetic elements or wandering through open pieces.


New York, NY… This May, outdoor sculptures that address the issue of war and conflict will be collaboratively presented by the West Harlem Art Fund and Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds adjacent to Building 10B in Nolan Park on Governors Island.

In Defense of the Human Spirit is an imaginative reaction to the fortresses that were built on Governors Island in the early 1800s to protect New York’s harbor from any foreign invasion. Each piece int this exhibition, thoughtfully curated by Savona Bailey-McClain of the West Harlem Art Fund and Christina Goldberg of Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds, conveys movement, a twisting and bending of the strongest of materials, inward and out, stretching towards and facing a city that is continually evolving. The panoramic view from Governors Island facing the ever-changing skyline of New York is a reminder that in the face of adversity, there is nothing more resilient than the human spirit.

As world events currently unfold, many are experiencing a clash of strong emotions. In this uncertain time, the light of the human spirit is undeniably vibrant. The world is witnessing extraordinary courage from the people of Ukraine. We are witnessing passion and true physical and moral leadership from its president, who has truly risen to the occasion. What we are witnessing, as the world comes together to protect freedoms, is inspiring and powerful.

In the current state of affairs, as well as in the artwork chosen for this exhibition, we find valuable relationships in unusual places. When we connect the negative spaces, the gentle shifts in color, the permanence of materials and the elegance of each curve and bend, we are able to generate a visual energy that embraces the beauty of continual change. It is that nexus of grace and strength that creates a universal harmony, as in art and in life.

In Defense of the Human Spirit will be on view from April 30, 2022 (International Sculpture Day) through October 31, 2022.



Artist Gilbert Boro has a non-traditional approach to his artwork and is a firm believer that sculpture should be experienced with all the senses. Boro’s creative process is an indirect path of exploration – where progress is not always moving forward but readjusting, stepping away and often proceeding in a new direction. During his creative process, Boro listens to the materials and envisions how the sculpture will relate to its environment. The artist encourages engagement with the spaces and forms that delineate the sculpture, so as the sculpture itself becomes more than just an object in space; it becomes a space in and of itself.

Knots have dual associations for Gilbert Boro: their indispensable application in sailing, which he learned as teenager living on Long Island Sound; and unity – the synergy created from weaving different strands to form a strong bond. Boro’s knots simultaneously expose the inherent power and strength of their construction with the smoothness and elegance of grace. A sailboat cannot navigate challenging weather without a crew working in unison to ensure the knots and lines are correctly placed. It is this dual bond between grace and strength that creates a universal harmony, as in art and in life. Unlike the tautness of a sailor’s knot, the voids floating between Boro’s strands recognize that we still need space to expand and thrive while exploring our common bonds through sculpture.


Domenico’s sculptures combine the past and the present. He has an affinity toward the materials he works with, a deep sense of emotion, feelings, and dreams for what the material used for at one time and will become in his hand. They direct him on his path. From his process patterns emerge. He will take one piece of metal, add to it, and also delete from it. He is constantly discovering the metal’s unique appeal. When the sculpture encompasses all his creative energy, it is complete.

His technique is brute force, decided in the moment. He is enticed by the interesting shapes of metal, the patterns, textures, and grain and is fascinated with form. It is his aspiration to create sculptures that are completely unique, that no one has done before. He resists conformity and mass production, and his results are as individual as he is.


Joe Gitterman creates abstract sculptures inspired by a love of ballet and modern dance. He states, “I thought about the movements of dancers as a series of frames in an old celluloid film, and how just one of those frames could convey a fantastic sense of motion. I am working to capture this ‘single frame of motion’ in solid sculptures. For me, movement is the breath of life: it releases the power, or subtlety, of any form in repose – the promise of action. My sculpture examines the relationship between fixed form and movement: each sculpture attempts to suggest the transformation that is possible.”

Sculpting maquettes in copper, wax, or acrylic, Gitterman chooses to cast in bronze or fabricate in stainless steel. His work ranges from intimate hand-size pieces to dramatic work well beyond the human scale. The surface texture and color of each piece accentuate either dynamic movement or sensual form. Whether they are clean, crisp stainless steel, bronze with a leather-like patina, or a vibrant yellow knot, they are abstractions and gestures; they are about fluid form. He does not make editions thus each of his works is an original.

Sails, knots, the movement of a dancer; these are the forms in motion that Gitterman attempts to replicate in his sculptures. With each series, he examines the movements of a given form, such as the gesture of a dancer, or the billowing curve of a sail. He then takes these moments and recreates them using a variety of materials. The result is an abstraction that hints at the possibility of movement.


West Harlem Art Fund (WHAF) is a twenty-four-year-old, public art and new media organization. Like explorers from the past, who searched for new lands and people, WHAF seek opportunities for artists and creative professionals throughout NYC and beyond wishing to showcase and share their talent. The West Harlem Art Fund presents art and culture in open and public spaces to add aesthetic interest; promote historical and cultural heritage; and support community involvement in local development. Our heritage symbol Afuntummireku-denkyemmtreku: is the double crocodile from West Africa Ghana which means unity in diversity.

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds is a vibrant community environment dedicated to arts education and appreciation on the Connecticut shoreline. Their mission is to create a bond between art, nature & community by inspiring and promoting participation in the arts.

Situated adjacent to the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in the historic town of Old Lyme, CT, the 5-acre outdoor park features over 100 sculptures woven throughout different gardens and courtyards. This en plein air art experience allows visitors to enjoy incredible large-scale contemporary sculpture by sculptor Gilbert Boro, as well as many invited contributing artists. Visitors are encouraged to explore the Grounds and interact with the works, perhaps turning kinetic elements or wandering through open pieces.

While visiting the Sculpture Grounds, peek into Studio 80, Boro’s working fabrication studio.  Boro’s fabrication team are often in the process of constructing new works and are always welcoming to observers. From engineering, metal fabrication, and structural welding – all their fabrication work is handcrafted to the highest standards and expertly navigates the boundary between art and craftsmanship.

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds are open daily from 9-5pm, 365 days a year, and free to the public.

Master Drawings New York celebrate Mexican Muralism with special in-person panel and exhibition — Art Daily December, 2021 & Artnet, 2022

NEW YORK, NY.- On Friday, January 28th at 10am, registered participants will enjoy a lively discussion on Mexican Muralism and the artists that impacted that period in both Mexico and the United States.

War dominated the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe. New political ideologies — socialism and communism, also added tensions. Art responded by turning its focus onto the common man and woman in natural and urban environments.

The Americas were impacted as well with cries for change. In Mexico, a ten-year revolution offered an opportunity for Mexico to acknowledge its pre-Hispanic past with a new blended population. Art became the medium to spark emotions and share with pride epic tales of how this blended world was to take shape.

The Mexican Muralism Movement embraced European traditions of drawing and frescoes with social realism and new aesthetics that swept into North America.

Joining the moderator, Savona Bailey-McClain, Executive Director of the West Harlem Art Fund are:

• Esther Adler, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings & Prints, MoMA
• Leon Tovar, Director, Leon Tovar Gallery, NYC
• Dr. Orlando Hernández-Ying, Rockefeller Brothers Fund Curatorial Research Fellow for the Hubert & Mireille Goldschmidt Works on Paper Fellowship, Hispanic Society Museum & Library

Participants will also view a special exhibition curated by the Hispanic Society Museum and Library. A selection of nearly two dozen drawings will be exhibited from the collections of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library.

These drawings were executed by artists as preparatory drawings for other works of art, such as frescos, tapestries, paintings, and architectural-sculptural ensembles.

This exhibit will complement the recently acquired gift of José Clemente Orozco drawings to the Hispanic Society by Michael and Salma Wornick. Also featured are earlier drawings by Rafael Ximeno y Planes and Juan Rodriguez Juárez from Mexico.

To give visitors a truer sense of the Hispanic Society Museum & Library’s expansive and diverse holdings, the exhibition will also feature drawings by notable artists from the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America from the 17th to the 20th century, including Jusepe de Ribera and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Alonso Cano, Francisco Goya y Lucientes, Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, and Francisco (Pancho) Fierro.

400 Years of Master Drawings from Hispanic Society Museum & Library was organized by Marcus Burke, Senior Curator, Paintings & Drawings, Hispanic Society.

Editors’ Picks: 12 Events for Your Art Calendar This Week — Artnet October 2021

A piece by Sagari­ka Sun­daram in "Elements" at the West Harlem Art Fund. Photo courtesy of the West Harlem Art Fund.

A piece by Sagari­ka Sun­daram in “Elements” at the West Harlem Art Fund. Photo courtesy of the West Harlem Art Fund.

9. “Elements” at the West Harlem Art Fund

West Harlem Art Fund founder Savona Bailey-McClain has curated a stunning fall exhibition at the organization’s seasonal headquarters on Governors Island featuring four international women artists. The showstopper is Sagari­ka Sun­daram’s massive hand-felted wool sculpture installed above the home’s fireplace, which she originally created as a performance costume. Drawings by Yalan Wen, delicate lamps covered in agar flowers by Yi Hsuan Sung, and Valerie Hal­li­er’s canvases covered in colorful flower petals round out the show.

Location: West Harlem Art Fund, Nolan Park, Building 10B, Governors Island, New York
Time: Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

—Sarah Cascone

Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps –INHABITAT OCTOBER 2021

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, although most people would agree there is beauty in nature. Artist and textile designer Yi Hsuan Sung has taken that common view of natural beauty and used it to create a varied line of products for the home.

In addition to reflecting nature in her designs, her mission is to honor it through the use of sustainable and natural materials. Sung believes that the desire to bring elements of nature inside the home often comes with a host of unwanted and unnecessary petrochemicals.

To create a cleaner home environment, she began experimenting with agar, which is an extract from red algae. She then combined it with glycerin and water to make a material that is natural, biodegradable and renewable. Once she was able to solidify the process, she began, and continues, experimenting with different products made from the same medium. Her wall art and faux flowers have a variety of finishes, including shimmery, metallic and foamy. The bioplastic also takes a variety of shapes, from wavy to curvy, and can be formed into sheets, filaments or cast units.

In the example of her floral pendant lamps made with agar, she makes the shade base by knitting agar yarn and decorating them with agar flowers cast from 3D-printed molds she designed. Her Agar Garden designs are an artistic endeavor into working with bio materials, while developing useful and pleasing interior design products. She’s also developed lamps and other products from silk and wool fabric samples, sequin scraps and lurex selvage yarns and mats made from a combination of agar, onion skins, spoiled milk and recycled saris.

With an emphasis on protecting the environment in her material choices, Sung pays special attention to coloring through the use of fiber waste (wool), food waste and mica powder.

“As a textile maker who consciously integrates science and technology into art and design and a material creative who dedicates to healthy and sustainable solutions, I earnestly explore the relationship between digital, bio and recycling fabrication,” Sung said. “Through my work, I want to transform textile making into a system that is harm-free, slow and mindful.”


This year is a 23・year-old organization that presents works of public art and new media.In addition to exhibiting works not only indoors but also outdoors, they revitalize the region through art and culture such as workshops. A collage of natural petals as they are.It is an attractive work that somehow soothes in the wonder and beauty.Deflores by Valerie Hallier, picture taken by Valerie Hallier

MSR of Sagarika Sundaram, an artist who creates works using textiles.This work is from a sculptural and craft perspective, and I like the volume of the work very much.

A collage of natural petals as they are.It is an attractive work that feels a sense of harmony in the wonder and beauty.Deflores by Valerie Hallier, picture taken by Valerie Hallier

“MSR” by Sagarika Sundaram, an artist who creates works using textiles.This work is from a sculptural and craft perspective, and I like the volume of the work very much.

West Harlem Art Fund kicks off the fall season with an all-female exhibition & public mural where NATURE MATTERS

New York, NY… Elements presented by the West Harlem Art Fund is a multi-disciplinary exhibition, that features an international roster of women artists in their exhibition space (NP/10) on Governors Island, beginning September 10th.

Also featured is Floral Love Project, a participatory mural led by veteran artist Kraig Blue from September 10th through 12th, and the outdoor sculptural installation Garden Sentinel by NYC-based artist Michele Brody.

Drawing inspiration from a Native American proverb ”Peace comes within the souls of men when they realize their oneness with the Universe when they realize it is really everywhere… it is within each one of us,” artists were carefully selected to convey how nature continues to work in harmony with human life.

Whether creating textile, using live petals, handcrafted design, or new media — Sagarika Sundaram, Yi Hsuan Sung, Yalan Wen, and Valerie Hallier offer the public new approaches for appreciating everyday life and nature.

Kraig Blue will lead Floral Love Project, a celebration of the native flowers that thrive on Governor’s Island. This eco-friendly collaborative project with the West Harlem Art Fund will take place during Fall Arts Week on the island. The public will engage in drawing, painting, and mural making.

Kraig Blue is one of over 500 New York City-based artists to receive $5,000.00 through the City Artist Corps Grants program, presented by The New York Foundation of the Arts (NYFA) and the New York Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).

Garden Sentinels by Michele Brody is made up of 12 – 8’ tall by 55” diameter towers composed of aluminum carpet strips held together by various elements of re-purposed hardware. Within each Garden Sentinel hangs an oversized test tube filled with growing plants within them. The role of each Garden Sentinel is to stand guard over their charges, keeping the plants alive and vibrant for all to enjoy and learn more about the native gardens on Governors Island.

Elements runs from September 10th — October 31, 2021 on Governors Island in Nolan Park, Building 10B on weekends from 12pm — 4 pm.

New York Responds
The First Six Months
THROUGH MAY 11, 2021

New York Responds: The First Six Months looks at the still-unfolding events of 2020 through the eyes of over 100 New Yorkers. The selections were sourced from among more than 20,000 nominations submitted to the Museum’s open call from individual artists and from partner institutions.  A jury of over a dozen New Yorkers representing many walks of life ultimately decided what to include in the exhibition.

This exhibition presents objects, photographs, videos, and other artworks that document and interpret the COVID pandemic, the racial justice uprisings, and the responses of New Yorkers as they fought to cope, survive, and forge a better future. Together, these powerful artifacts and artworks speak to the dramatic effects of these unprecedented months on the city, its residents, and the dynamics of urban life itself.

Content providers include: West Harlem Art Fund, Savona Bailey-McClain and Nadia DeLane

Where-Museum of the City of New York, 103rd Street, Fifth Avenue
When-December 18, 2020-April 11, 2021
Hours-Thursday through Monday 10 am-6 pm



About this Event

Welcome to our thirteenth Happy Virtual Hour with CADAF! Join leading art professionals, artists, and collectors as they discuss all things art + tech. BYOB!

The Rise of Contemporary African American Art: A Reflection on the Current Market and Its Potential with Savona Bailey-McClain, Jason Bailey, and Surprise Guests

Savona Bailey-McClain, Executive Director/Chief Curator, West Harlem Art Fund

Jason Bailey, Founder, Artnome

Savona Bailey-McClain is Executive Director/Chief Curator of the West Harlem Art Fund, which has organized high-profile public arts exhibits throughout New York City for the past 20 years, including Times Square, DUMBO, Soho, Governors Island and Harlem. Her public art installations encompass sculpture, drawings, performance, sound, and mixed media, and have been covered extensively by the New York Times, Art Daily, Artnet, Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post, among many others. She is host/ producer of “State of the Arts NYC,” a weekly radio program on iTunes, Radio Public, Youtube, Mixcloud and other audio platforms. She is also a member of ArtTable and the Governors Island Advisory Council.

Jason Bailey is an art nerd covering art and technology at the blog and on the DankRares podcast. Jason has a BA in studio art and art history from Framingham State University (2001) and an MFA in digital art from Massachusetts College of Art and Design (2010). Jason is an advisor to blockchain art platforms and A serial entrepreneur, he has worked at startups in the Boston area on the cutting edge of technology for the last 20 years. Jason is mission driven to use technology and data to improve the world’s art historical record and to improve opportunities for artists from historically underserved or marginalized groups.






Executive Director Savona Bailey McClain will appear this Sunday, July 5th on the Antonia Badon radio show Harlem Time Travel, heard on WHCR. She will talk on Confederate monuments, their history in this country and Black suffragettes.

Zoom in Virtually on Friday June 26, at 10:30 am for the Live Unveiling of Earth Matter’s Agri-Cultural Heritage Project!

Join Earth Matter for our LIVE event broadcast from Governors Island, as we virtually unveil Earth Matter’s Agri-Cultural Heritage Beds. This project centers around a series of ten growing beds located at Earth Matter’s Soil Start Farm. These beds have been curated and cultivated by community collaborators, to showcase food and farming traditions from diverse native and immigrant communities that have played an important role in lower Manhattan and New York’s history, development, and character.

We will hear remarks from Hon. City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, and Clare Newman, President and CEO of The Trust for Governors Island.

These growing beds, full of organic soil enriched with compost made by and for New Yorkers at Earth Matter’s Compost Learning Center, will soon be overflowing with vegetables and herbs, representative Native American, German, Black-African, Russian-Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanic-Caribbean, Peruvian, and Italian cultures.

Governors Island is currently closed to visitors. When it reopens, everyone is welcome and encouraged to take a self-guided tour of this living exhibit via the on-site interpretive signage and linked “native tongue” audio files created by project collaborators. And stay tuned for upcoming related health and healing workshops, and culinary tasting events

Friday June 26, 2020 • 10:30 – 11:30am EST

Thank you to collaborating organizations: Hamilton Madison House, American Indian Community House, Farm School NYC, New York Cares, the West Harlem Art Fund, and the Trust for Governors Island.

Special thanks to Council Member Margaret Chin for her generous support and encouragement.

Read the curated text by the West Harlem Art Fund for the Black-African Heritage Bed in English and Yoruba. Special spotlight on Kimberly Brown who grew all the vegetables.

Farmer Kimberly Brown





The West Harlem Art Fund has launched COVID Diaries POC —a poignant audio series documenting the impact of the corona virus through interview and memoir. COVID Diaries POC collaboratively captures the reactions of People of Color living at the effect of this global pandemic.

Teen students from Exalt Youth will generate discussion questions that family members, neighbors and other participants will respond to using a recording feature on their phones.

Those interviews will be archived and woven into an outdoor botanical installation and soundscape performance piece designed by artists Nadia DeLane and Austin Arrington.

According to Savona Bailey McClain, Executive Director and Chief Curator for the West Harlem Art Fund, “It is vital that Black and Brown people share their thoughts and experiences firsthand. Too often others interpret the feelings of our communities for us without ever talking to us. COVID Diaries POC offers an opportunity for our communities to heal and process in real-time.”

Posterity will include the voices of African, Latino and Caribbean Americans as historical actors and not as victims.

Exalt demonstrates the power of effective educational engagement as a viable alternative to criminal justice involvement for today’s young people.


Hi, my name is Julius Michel and I’m currently 16 years old. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, but my family is from Trinidad and Haiti. I’m in the 11th grade and I attend school at New Explorations into Science, Technology, and Math in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. My interests and aspirations are in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and in sports as I wish to be a mechanical engineer or a sports analyst in the near future.

West Harlem Art Fund is joining a growing list of art galleries, musems, and performance venues with digital offerings for the general public.

Thought-provoking content and special guests, spotlight historical moments, live panels, talks and more using audio, images and videoconferencing.

Topics like repatriation, Carolina rice culture, architecture post-Covid19, contemporary glass and botanical curations are apart of our new series ON[View].

Our current installment on Kerry James Marshall is available.



Rice around the world is thought of as Asian. But rice is just as African as it is Asian. Oryza glaberrima was cultivated from wild rice that needed humans when the Sahara was drying. That knowledge fueled the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade where Africans were brought west.

Rice dominated the United States and particularly South Carolina for two hundred years by these African slaves. When Black culture migrated north, Harlem became its capital. A mecca where traditions could be preserved and human rights championed.

Spend an evening learning about rice with curator and historian Savona Bailey-McClain, JJ Johnson, chef of rice restaurant FieldTrip, and rice farmer Nfamara Badjie. Learn how the culture of rice has impacted Black culture as we trace its roots from Africa and the Caribbean to the American South. After the discussion guests will enjoy a scrumptious rice dish prepared by celebrity chef JJ Johnson.

Event date postponed

Savona Bailey-Mcclain (Moderator)- historian & director of West Harlem Art Fund
JJ Johnson- chef and owner of FIELDTRIP in Harlem
Nfamara Badjie- Gambian rice farmer & owner of Ever-Growing Family Farm 
Organization: MOFAD
Location: The Africa Center: 1280 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029
Time: Doors open at 6:30pm. Panel begins at 7pm with reception to follow.

Executive Director Savona Bailey-McClain talks at Sotheby’s Institute of Art on public art. Thanks to Elizabeth Pergam for reaching out to talk with her class. Six students have agreed to curate African antiquities for the 2020 show Within Reach: Response now re-scheduled for September of this year.

The West Harlem Art Fund has formed a new partnership with Plant Group to develop gardens this spring at their exhibition space NP/10 on Governors Island. PLANT GROUP is an environmental design-build firm combining landscape design, permaculture, environmental science, and engineering to create co-habitable spaces within the built and natural environment. The gardens at NP/10 will spotlight native species the public can enjoy.
New date will be announced.