Register for the Candidate’s Forum Next Week

Join The Greater Harlem Coalition and MMPCIA at next week’s Harlem City Council Candidates’ Forum. The forum will begin at 7 PM on Thursday, April 27th.

Harlem’s current City Councilmember declined to attend.

If you have questions for the candidates, fill out this form after registering for the Zoom webinar.

Claire Oliver Gallery

Make sure to check out the fantastic exhibit at Claire Oliver Gallery by Simone Saunders, called: Unearthing Unicorns
The exhibit will be up 17 March – 13 May 2023 and consists of hand-tufted velvet, acrylic and wool yarn on muslin warp artwork. The artist writes:

“Unearthing Unicorns references both literal and figurative iterations of the historical fable,” states Saunders. “I reimagine stories played out in our history, such as the famous and treasured Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries, to show Black women portrayed as being highly valued and respected. Through my work, I want to empower and encourage Black women to never shrink ourselves and instead lean into being the fierce, graceful, and beautiful being that we are – just like the Unicorn. Unearthing Unicorns also allows me to scrutinize the art historical canon and pull fables that are rooted in colonialism. My goal with this exhibition is to remix these allegories and put Black womanhood as the center of a story where she is not present, and define that character as one that embodies joy, strength and resilience.”

Rhum Boogie

Ebay has a 1943 image of Rhum Boogie, and three dapper men walking past:

The song, Rhum Boogie has the following lyrics:

All Harlem’s got a brand new rhythm
And it’s burning up the dance halls
Because it’s so hot.
They took a little rhumba rhythm,
And they added boogie-woogie,
And-a look what they’ve got

It’s Harlem’s new creation
With a Cuban syncopation –
It’s a killer.

A native is a monkey
Both barbaric and a donkey –
It’s a killer.
Just plant your toes
And both feet in Honeyside –
Lets both hit the Jodeside.

Just through your body way back rhyme
Sing a little bit of the –

The native rhythm haunts you,
It’s barbaric and it taunts you –
It’s a killer.

Just plant you toes and both feet on each side,
Let both your hips and shoulders glide,
Then throw your body a-way back and ride.
Sing a little of
The rhumba
The boogie
The woogie
Then put them
Both all together
You have rhumboogie…

Then all together sing rhumboogie.
In Harlem or Havana
In Poughkeepsie or Savannah
It’s a killer.
It’s a killer this rhumboogie.

There’s nothing like rhumboogie!

Rhum Boogie was just south of the Lafayette Theater – the location where the ground-breaking performance of Macbeth was staged in the 1930’s with Orson Wells directing.

Black Theater Matters: has a great look at this period of Black theater.

Rhum Boogie would have been in the building behind the tree in the photo, above, 2221 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. This location (and entire block) is an apartment building:

Harlem’s Claire Oliver Gallery Represents Barbara Earl Thomas Who Replaces Stained Glass Windows At Yale

In June of 2016, Corey Menafee worked for Yale as a dishwasher at Yale’s Calhoun College, as he was cleaning a dining room Menafee stood on top of a table and used a broomstick to break a stained-glass window. The windows, installed in 1933, depicted enslaved Africans carrying bales of cotton. Menafee said the image was racist and degrading and that he had become sick of seeing it every day. The dining room windows that once contained romanticized depictions of the antebellum South and slavery now showcase the work of Barbara Earl Thomas, commissioned by Yale to produce 6 new windows, replacing the Calhoun stained glass with the artist’s beautiful and healing narratives.

Yale University unveils a major commission of stained-glass windows by Barbara Earl Thomas.

“I’m interested in how we connect the past to the present so that we don’t lose the link,” Ms. Thomas said in an interview. “I think in order to understand how we got here, you very much have to make clear where we’ve come from.”

stained-glass windows by artist Barbara Earl Thomas on display in Yale’s Grace Hopper Collage
Thomas’s new windows illustrate key transitions in the college’s history, honor the people who work in the dining hall, and represent the joyful music and community spirit that brighten the undergraduate experience at Yale.

“These new windows are a wonderful gift to the students and staff of Hopper College and the entire Yale community,” said President Peter Salovey. “They honor the strong sense of community that helps us to grow and flourish together.

Artist Barbara Earl Thomas discusses her works with residents of Grace Hopper Collage

Claire Oliver Gallery Fall Exhibit

Claire Oliver Gallery is currently exhibiting: When You See Them, You See Me, the debut solo exhibition by artist Robert Peterson. Featuring 13 life-scale oil on canvas figurative paintings.

Peterson aims to capture time through his art, highlighting Black family life as joyous, loving, and balanced.

“This exhibition is extremely personal to me as it showcases the balance that I have within my own life as a husband and a father, as a Black man,” states Peterson. “I create my work with the idea of correcting the historical record. In 500 years, I want viewers to see the normalcy, peace, and harmony with my subjects – Black people, and Black families in particular, that contrast with the often negative popular narrative. I want my subjects to get the chance to live forever through my work.”

Peterson’s figures’ skin tones are rendered in rich polychrome: a joyous and exuberant expression of love of Black skin.

In the past decade, Peterson has evolved from his self-taught origins to exhibiting his works in celebrated galleries and art fairs in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami. In 2016, he was the first Black artist selected “Artist of the Year for Southwestern Oklahoma” by the Oklahoma Arts Council. The following year, he became the Spectrum Spotlight Artist of the Year during Miami’s Art Basel.

2288 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard
New York, NY 10030

Green Infrastructure Tour

After a two year hiatus, we are starting up the GI Bus Tour! Date: Friday, October 28th, 2022
Time: 9:00AM to 3:00PM (approximate end time)
Pick up/Drop off: 121 Sixth  Avenue, Manhattan
Cost: $10.00 (includes transportation in a coach bus and a box lunch)

ItineraryRight of way bioswales (rain gardens) and infiltration basins in South Ozone Park, QueensExtended detention wetlands in Baisley Pond Park and Springfield Park, QueensGreenpoint Library in Greenpoint, BrooklynWe will have representatives from the Green Infrastructure program and Bluebelt program of the NYC DEP as well as the Greenpoint Library

Purchase your ticket today at:
Please note there will be walking involved at some of the sites. 

For more information, email [email protected].
Reserve Your Seat Now!

National Day of Rememberance Walk

On Sunday, September 25th you are invited to walk with us for the National Day of Remembrance. 

In Harlem/East Harlem we will begin our walk at 112th and 1st Avenue ending at City Hall.  We walk in honor of our friends, family, and community members that were lost to senseless violence and we walk together to send a message that violence is unacceptable. 

We walk together in UNITY!

New Exhibit at Claire Oliver Gallery

Make sure to check out the new exhibit at Claire Oliver Gallery (ACP between 134/135)

Drumming In Marcus Garvey Park, Saturday

New Group Exhibit At Claire Oliver Gallery

Be sure to check out the new group exhibit at the Claire Oliver Gallery on ACP, just below 135th Street.

It’s a strong selection of artists represented by the gallery and scheduled to have a solo show in the next year: Barbara Earl Thomas, Adebunmi Gbadebo, Robert Peterson, Stan Squirewell, Gio Swaby, and introducing the work of Simone Elizabeth Saunders.

Ebony’s Test Kitchen

The exhibit of African/American foodways will close soon at the Africa Center (5th Avenue at 110th Street).

Run, don’t walk, to see the Ebony Magazine’s test kitchen in all its funky, psychedelic splendor.

Words can’t describe the experience of walking through it. You’ve just got to go.

You’ve only got until the end of the month!

See Stan Squirewell at Claire Oliver Gallery

Make sure to head over to the Claire Oliver Gallery (2288 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard at 134th – to check out Stan Squirewell’s premiere solo exhibition.

Squirewell’s work examines who curates and controls the narratives that become accepted as history; from what perspective is history written, whose stories are told, and whose are neglected?

“As a child of the hip hop era, born in the 70s, growing up in the 80s and 90s, I look at my work as almost remixing, crate-digging, but my crates are museums, private collections, and historical narratives,” states Squirewell. “I remix my pieces according to my own way of writing history and who we are as people. My work exists as a veil between the spiritual and real world, it’s a bridge that offers a connection between the two.”

The works on display are founded on the concept of rebuilding identity using painting, photography and sculpture.

Squirewell uses found historic photographs of Black people, whose complex human identities have been erased either through time or through design, as a starting point. He then layers collage, painting and photography with each new element undergoing a ritualized burning.

Squirewell’s own family history has been a driving influence for the artist in his exploration of how we are taught simplified and singular narratives that disregard the complexities of contemporary identity.

Gym Equipment

There has been a lot of media coverage of the removal of gym equipment near the basketball courts in Marcus Garvey Park this past week. Even the New York Times has weighed in on the issue:

Back in January, the Harlem Neighborhood Block Association was invited to meet with the NYC Parks Commissioner about Marcus Garvey Park, and our request/vision for improving this amazing space. Our block association specifically asked (in writing) for:

…more support for the gym users near the basketball courts (a conversation about equipment or facilities, etc.)

and reiterated this in the Zoom call.

(if you cannot get behind the NYT paywall, you can read the text, here: )

Hue Arts: The Brown Paper

Hue Arts has released a Brown Paper on the experiences and realities of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all People of Color arts entities. The project seeks to reveal the value they bring to their communities and to the cultural ecosystem of New York City as a whole. Ensuring that arts leaders, artists, and organizations of color reap the same benefits for their work as their predominantly white counterparts is essential for racial and cultural equity and for the continued vitality of the NYC arts field.

Hue Arts is demanding that the deep systemic inequity that has spread to the art community, including institutions, funders, and policy makers, as well as the artists and communities served, be addressed by New York City, including public and private philanthropy. Until financial resources from both private and government entities are distributed more equitably, there will never be more equitable access to staffing, working conditions, professional training, or space, and there will never be a genuinely equal chance to realize artistic visions and dreams. This is far from the first time this issue has been raised—the tireless efforts of the Cultural Equity Group for over the past 15 years is one notable example. Numerous initiatives over the years have raised many of the issues captured in this report. The gulf in support between the entities studied here and predominantly white-led organizations is both immense and long-standing.

It is important to make the data, stories, and experiences in this report widely visible, but it is equally important that these data, stories, and experiences are heeded. The inequity and imbalance in the distribution of resources cannot be accepted as a given. We must take action as a collective community.

To read the full paper:

In addition, Hue Arts has produced a map of POC arts organizations that you can explore:

To see the interactive map, and to add your organization to this repository, please see:

Claire Oliver Gallery

Some images from a wonderful recent show at Claire Oliver Gallery:


Today is Adam Clayton Powell Jr.’s birthday and I wanted to share two of my favorite photos of him:

This first one is from the 1930’s at Colby where he studied. The contrast between the sharp image on the right, and the ‘brushed’ image on the left is fascinating.

This second image comes from 1968 as his political star began to wane:

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. represented Harlem as our congress member from 1945 until 1971. He was the first African-American to be elected to Congress from New York, as well as the first from any state in the north.

Powell supported emerging nations in Africa and Asia as they gained independence after colonialism and in 1961 became chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, the most powerful position held by an African American in Congress. Powell supported the passage of important social and civil rights legislation under Kennedy and Johnson.

Following allegations of corruption, in 1967 Powell was excluded from his seat but he was re-elected and regained the seat in 1969 but promptly lost his seat in 1970 to Charles Rangel and retired from electoral politics.

And On Adam Clayton Powell Blvd…

This December make some time to visit the Claire Oliver Gallery’s new show: ACROSS SEVEN RUINS AND REDEMPTIONS SOMO KAMARIOKA

The work (sculpture and painting from Leonardo Benzant) is described by the artist in this way

“The paintings are a type of mirror as they are created from tracing parts of the sculptures. On a material level, it references the metamorphosis of the beads, string, and fabric. On a spiritual level, it reflects the adaptive survival strategies and transformations that occur- both personally and collectively,-as we navigate various systems of oppression. In spite of the trauma and the violence, Across Seven Ruins and Redemptions_Somo Kamarioka materializes a journey of hope, healing, and self-determination.”

-Leonardo Benzant

Fantastic Exhibition at Claire Oliver Gallery

Make sure to head over to the Claire Oliver Gallery: to see the amazing exhibit of Gio Swaby.

Her work has been collected by major art institutions, and she is considered a rising art-world star.

The Claire Oliver Gallery is located on Adam Clayton Powell, on the west side between 134/135.

1939 Madison Ave. Used As Gambling House

100 years ago the New York Times reported breathlessly on an illegal gambling house at 1939 Madison Avenue (between 124/125).

The charges leveled in court and in the newspaper allege that not only was gambling occurring, but debts were not paid, and the local police were on the take.

For the full article, see:

Claire Oliver Gallery

If you have a chance, head up Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. to 134/135 and stop in the Claire Oliver Gallery. The current exhibit of photography – a Love Letter for Harlem – is wonderful, powerful, and worth a visit.