By Jon Schuppe
MANHATTAN — A national showcase of African-American artists is returning to Harlem in February, a weeklong affair that will coincide with Black History Month.
The second annual Harlem Fine Arts Show will be held at Riverside Church from Feb. 25 to 27 with a mission to develop "the long-neglected area of African-American culture, history and economic development," organizers say. This year's show will emphasize both known and emerging artists from around the country.
Curator Andrew Nichols said he wants the Harlem Fine Arts Show to fill the void left by other former New York shows that once focused on black artists, namely the National Black Fine Arts Show. He said he expects the new show to become the genre's premier event.
The Harlem Fine Arts Show kicked off for the first time last year at the 369th Armory on Fifth Avenue. Organizers wanted to make it an annual event, but couldn't reach a deal with that venue. So they turned to Riverside Church, which agreed to host the show for five years, Nichols said.
The goal is to allow artists to sell their work and reach a wider audience, and give buyers a chance to meet artists in person, Nichols said.
He hopes the event will help inject some life into a local arts community damaged by the recession.
"We want to bring it back," he said.
There will be several promotional events leading up to the 2011 show, including a reception by the Black and Latino State Legislative Caucus in Albany, and a preview hosted by The New York Times.
A portion of the show's proceeds will be donated to the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention on Madison Avenue and 124th Street. Proceeds from the arts show's $70-a-head opening night preview will benefit Jazzmobile, a Harlem center dedicated to preserving and performing jazz.