East Midtown Plaza residents Shelley and Claude Winfield stand by Claude’s portraits of Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, which were made out of beads. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday night, the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates kicked off its annual community art show at the National Arts Club, featuring 85 works by nearly as many artists. The art included paintings, drawings, prints and photos as well as some multi-media pieces.
At a reception packed with over 300 people on Tuesday night, GNA President Alan Krevis said he was “thrilled by the turnout and the quality of work is amazing.”
Most of the artists were residents of Stuyvesant Town and Gramercy and many were members of local civic groups.
One artist, Claude Winfield, also a Community Board 6 and Tilden Club member, had created beaded portraits of John Coltrane and Duke Ellington.
Winfield, of East Midtown Plaza, said his beaded works take anywhere from 20-40 days “over a span of time” to create. He uses African seed beads, explaining that various colors have different meanings. “Like a teacher would wear beads that are yellow and green,” he said. Winfield discovered the art form when he worked as head docent at the Museum for African Art and became inspired by a show there.
“Before that I did lithographs,” he said.
Also in attendance was former GNA President Edith Charlton, who said she’d been the one to start the event, although she couldn’t quite remember when. She believes it’s been running for at least 10 years though. She recalled how the club’s president at the time when she pitched the idea, O. Aldon James, was very receptive to it.
“It worked well and they’re even selling pictures now,” said Charlton. “I’m pleased it’s continuing.”