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Link Gerri Warren-Merrick, Link Lybra Clemons, Scholarship Recipient Chamiere Greenaway, Link Rhonda Joy McLean (Photo by Anthony Lee)

*On Monday, October 7, 2013,150 invitational only guests were in a laudatory mood as the Greater New York Chapter, The Links Incorporated (GNY) celebrated sixty-five years of exemplary commitment to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and persons of African descent at a special reception and preview of the acclaimed exhibition, Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College at New York University’s (NYU) Silver Center.  A preview of the exhibition for the rarely seen murals followed at 80 WSE Gallery at NYU Steinhardt.

The event was co-hosted by NYU-Poly School of Engineering.  Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College was organized by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in collaboration with Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama.

“Greater New York Chapter, The Links Incorporated is proud to have hosted this landmark event in partnership with New York University as our chapter embarks on 65 years of service to the community,” commented GNY President Gerri Warren-Merrick.  “Hale Woodruff’s interpretation of the Black experience in America is truly profound.  We commend NYU and the Faculty Resource Network for bringing this important body of work to New York,” added Warren-Merrick.

“NYU and NYU-Poly are especially delighted to collaborate on this important event with the Links organization.  This event exemplifies our commitment to diversity and supporting our tradition of renaissance thinking — that is the intersection of fine arts and sciences,” effused Anita Farrington, NYU-Poly School of Engineering.

Organized by the arts facet of GNY, the exhibition is comprised of six, large-scale paintings that have never before been seen in New York, offering viewers an unprecedented opportunity to bear witness to the artistic legacy of artist Woodruff — known for his spectacular murals, prints and paintings that delve into seminal aspects of African American history.

The works trace the history of African Americans from the Middle Passage, highlighting the 1839 uprising aboard the Amistad slave ship, abolitionism and the Underground Railroad and the founding of Talladega College by former slaves in Alabama shortly after the Civil War.

“Our approach has been to develop strategic partnerships with New York City’s cultural institutions so that we can continue to provide exposure, education, and opportunities for our constituents.  This exhibition and education tour of ‘Rising Up’ is another opportunity for the GNY arts facet to advance our mission,” concluded Warren-Merrick.

Event highlights included opening remarks by Dean Anita Farrington, an overview on the Links, Incorporated and its history of social service by GNY President Warren-Merrick and a special presentation on the exhibition by Faculty Resource Network Art Consultant, Deborah Vanderburg Spencer.

The event attracted many esteemed guests including U.S. Congressman Charlie Rangel, Essence magazine former editor Susan L. Taylor, National Urban League President Marc H. Morial, as well as corporate sponsors who help the Links advance its mission of service across several platforms, and representatives from AARP, BET, Colgate-Palmolive, GE and Jet Blue, among others.   Also in attendance were many members of the Greater New York Community, including organizational partners as well as those who benefit from the services provided by GNY.

Established in 1946, The Links, Incorporated, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women.  Greater New York Chapter, founded in 1949, was the first chapter in New York and comprises members from all five boroughs in New York City and from Long Island.

Under the leadership of President Gerri Warren-Merrick, Greater New York Chapter is committed to fostering community outreach in the New York metropolitan area through quality programs with a long-term impact on the well-being and enrichment of African Americans.  For more information log on to Greater New York Chapter’s Web site at www.greaternylinksinc.org.

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LaTanya Richardson Jackson presented MADI award to Cookie Johnson and Earvin “Magic” Johnson as MADI’s chief development officer Donna Williams looks on. (Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)

*On Monday, September 23, 2013, The Board of Trustees and The Multicultural Audience Development Initiative Advisory committee of The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted The Metropolitan Museum of Art third Multicultural Audience Development Initiative (MADI) black tie gala benefit,  An Evening of Many Cultures, honoring Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his lovely wife Cookie Johnson, Estrellita B. Brodsky, Buffy Sainte-Marie and The Sau-Wing Lam Family for their broad-ranging efforts to further the sharing of art and culture in many diverse communities, with proceeds benefitting programming for MADI.

Awestruck dinner guests entering the enchanted Great Hall were fascinated by amazing performances from the Red Hawk Native American Arts Council Dancers; a troupe of South East Asian dancers led by Nrityanjali Artistic Director Chandra Banerjee; and Sylvia Jiaju Shen of the New York Chinese Cultural Center playing the pipa on their way to The Charles Engelhard Court for cocktails followed by viewing of The American Wing.  There, they were greeted with an awesome musical performance by Grammy Award-winning guitarist Nelson Gonzalez on the Cuban tres guitar.

Then, a lavish dinner was served.  As jazz flutist Sherry Winston provided perfect dining music during dinner catered by Restaurant Associates at The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing, guests dined on Caramelized Chestnut, Spinach and Mushroom Tart, Seasonal Field Greens with Truffle Oil; and Pan Seared Sea Bass with Celery Root Puree, Brown Butter Sautéed Haricot Verts with Toasted Hazelnuts, Roasted Cauliflower.  As they savored their meal, entertainment was provided by virtuoso violinist Eric Silberger who played a rare J.B. Guadagnini violin on special loan from the Sau-Wing Lam collection, followed by dessert in the Great Hall.  Throughout the amazing event guests were awed by the beauty of the décor designed by Remco van Vliet of Van Vliet & Trap, Event Design.

“We are delighted to join our many ardent supporters in heralding the amazing strides the Museum has made in sharing its vast global collections with so many related cultures and communities, both near and far,” commented Donna Williams, the MADI’s chief audience development officer.  “We also acknowledge the important contributions our honorees have made to the public through their efforts to spread knowledge of many cultures.”

Broker to the rich, famous and well-connected, Spencer Means, served as benefit chair; and Ebony magazine served as media sponsor.  The annual event culminated with a fabulous dance party from 8:30 to 11: 00 p.m. in the Museum’s iconic Great Hall chaired by actress Rosie Perez with Estelle and Lion Babe serving as dance vice chairs.  Hot dance music was spun by DJ D-Nice who was selected by Obama for America as the DJ at the Inaugural Ball for the President of the United States.

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: [email protected]

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard