Publicolor founder Ruth Lande Shuman welcomed guests at her home in celebration of Cuban-born artist Carmen Herrera. A mural by the 102-year old artist was recently painted by Publicolor students at New York’s public school MS 244 (New School for Leadership and Arts) in the Bronx. The art project was part of Publicolor’s mission to engage high-risk, low-income students, ages 12-24, in a continuum of intensive, design-based programs to encourage academic achievement, college preparation, job readiness, and community service. Artist Tony Bechara spearheaded this project, asking his long-time friend, Herrera, to lend a new drawing based on the original “Untitled 1952” to Publicolor for the students to create their mural. At the celebration Tony noted that the original work hung over his bed for years before he (and Anges Gund) gifted it to The Museum of Modern Art.
Ms. Shuman articulated the importance of extending art-making practices into the lives of underprivileged children who otherwise would not enjoy the enriching joy art can engender. She said, “Our goal is to bring the power of visual beauty to communities who experience little of it.” New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito spoke on the significance of bringing art to all communities, including her own in the Bronx. The Whitney Museum of American Art, which recently exhibited Herrera’s work, sent curator Jennie Goldstein to speak on Carmen’s late acceptance as a major figure in both abstraction and minimalism. Tony Bechara spoke about his personal appreciation of Herrera, an artist whose fame only recently reached its zenith.
While Herrera was not able to attend, she did remark: “My two great loves, education and art. They have enriched my long life. Having students paint this mural in a school, that’s a beautiful thing. A first mural and a first piece permanently in a school. I consider it a great honor to have been asked by Publicolor and I am so pleased with the results. My thanks to every student who has participated in this project as you have given me joy.”
Guests included: Frederick C. Anderson; Zulema Arroyo; Jeffrey Banks; Janna Bullock; Chus Burés; Bénédicte de Montlaur; Layla Diba; Adriana Echavarria; Nichoals Farley; William Haseltine and his wife María Eugenia Maury; Laura Pels; Gaetano Pesce; Pascale Richard, and Kathleen Elizabeth Springhorn.
Publicolor is a long-term youth development program that engages high-risk students in their education throughout the year with a continuum of design-based programs that mentor them for success in college, career and life.