geoffrey & carmen

Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder

*LOS ANGELES – Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum (Friends) will host its annual gala, An Artful Evening at CAAM, on Saturday, October 12, 2013 at the California African American Museum.  The gala will include reception entertainment, a silent auction, bar, post dinner dancing, music and complimentary valet parking.

Hosted by CCH Pounder, the California African American Museum (CAAM) will honor legendary entertainers Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Dance, Choreography, and Acting; businessman Leon T. Garr with the Tom Bradley Unsung Hero Award for Business, Real Estate and Philanthropy; and visual artist Phoebe Beasley with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Visual Art.

The elegant, black-tie affair is CAAM’s largest fundraiser of the year and benefits CAAM’s Mentoring Generations program, an umbrella program that provides innovative cross-cultural programming servicing K-12 students and families with children. Major components of the Mentoring Generations program are: Young Docent internship program, Young Docent After-Hours, Buses and Docents, and Young Voices at CAAM.

“Thanks to our annual gala, CAAM’s Mentoring Generations Program is able to offer many rewarding programs for K-12 students, youth and families with children throughout Los Angeles County,” said CAAM’s Executive Director Charmaine Jefferson. “We are grateful each year to host our gala honoring prestigious individuals, while simultaneously providing educational resources for our youth. We pride ourselves in the exploration of our history and the development of our future.”

Husband and wife Geoffrey Holder and Carmen de Lavallade are two very successful dancers and actors. Holder, a Trinidad native is also a painter and has had his art showcased in several major international exhibitions. Holder won two Tony Awards for his direction and costume design for the hit Broadway musical The Wiz. In addition, he has designed and choreographed ballets for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Pennsylvania Ballet. Holder was featured in several films including the James Bond film “Live and Let Die” and in a major 7UP commercial campaign as the “UnCola Man.”  Holder is also known for his radio voiceovers, bearing his deep baritone voice.

As a dancer, choreographer, stage and film actress, de Lavallade studied other art forms including painting, set design, music and more. De Lavallade received her inspiration from her cousin, dancer Janet Collins, who was among the few of Blacks of her time that were classically trained dancers.  It was with Holder that de Lavallade choreographed her signature solo, Come Sunday.  A documentary entitled Carmen & Geoffrey chronicles their careers, life and marriage.

Leon T. Garr, a South Los Angeles businessman has made an economic and social impact on Los Angeles. A Louisiana native, Garr moved to Los Angeles in the 40s. By 1963, Garr opened Garr Construction, where he built homes in L.A. communities such as Baldwin Hills, West Los Angeles, Brentwood and Willowbrook. His construction company expanded from real estate development, to commercial development.  In 1989, Founders Savings And Loan collapsed and in 1991, Garr invested millions of dollars into the purchase of the bank, creating Founders National Bank.  Founders National Bank became the only African American owned commercial bank on the West Coast. Currently, Garr has several businesses/institutions named after him including Garr Elementary, Garr Senior Homes and Garr Childcare.

Visual artist Phoebe Beasley is the only artist to receive the presidential seal twice for her artwork under two different presidents. Beasley’s work is collected extensively and is included in CAAM’s permanent collection. In addition, Beasley was the first African American female president on the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Beasley received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Ohio University and has worked with Victoria Rowell and Rowell Foster Children Positive Plan to help students achieve self-esteem through their artwork.

leon t. garr

Leon T. Garr

phoebe beasley

Phoebe Beasley


For general and sponsorship opportunity information for An Artful Evening at CAAM

Call the Gala Hotline: (213) 744-2060

Email: [email protected]

For more general information about the California African American Museum
Call:  (213) 744-7432

About the California African American Museum
The California African American Museum (CAAM) researches, collects, preserves and interprets for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans. Chartered by the California State Legislature in 1977, CAAM is a state supported institution and a partner with the 501(c)(3) non- profit organization Friends, the Foundation of the California African American Museum. In addition to its permanent collection of over 3,000 objects of art, artifacts and historical documents, CAAM also houses a research library containing more than 20,000 volumes, employs and trains high school students through its Young Docent program, and hosts in-house curated exhibitions and traveling exhibitions on a regular basis.  The museum also tours CAAM exhibitions throughout California and the nation.



Lee Ellis
[email protected]
Terri Dixon
[email protected]