‘The Art of Jazz’ celebrates Black History Month, and several causes, in Morristown

Quilts by the late Viki Craig are among the works featured in 'The Art of Jazz' show at Morristown's 70 South Gallery, Feb. 22, 2019. Photo by Marion Filler
Quilts by the late Viki Craig were among the works featured in 'The Art of Jazz' show at Morristown's 70 South Gallery, Feb. 22, 2019. Photo by Marion Filler
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By Marion Filler

Morristown’s 70 South Gallery was crackling with energy on Friday night for The Art of Jazz, a Black History Month fundraiser for the Morristown Neighborhood House and Cornerstone Family Programs.

The timing felt right.

The December passing of Viki Craig, co-founder of Art in the Atrium, and the outcry over the cancellation of that African American art showcase after 26 years, helped motivate patrons to flock to the soiree, which included lively music by Jimmy’s Band and artworks for sale by several prominent black artists.

‘The Art of Jazz’ in Morristown, Feb. 22, 2019. Video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com:

“The great turnout tonight is exactly what we had hoped for — to bring the community together,” said Ayo Sanderson Wilson, the new chief operating officer of the Neighborhood House and its parent nonprofit, Cornerstone.

Founded in 1898 as a settlement house that embraced the community’s growing diversity, the Nabe, as it’s affectionately known today, needs some loving care.

“We want to make the House a home,” said Williams.

Ayo Sanderson Wilson, the new COO of the Morristown Neighborhood House and Cornerstone Family Programs, Feb. 22, 2019. Photo by Marion Filler
Ayo Sanderson Wilson, the new COO of the Morristown Neighborhood House and Cornerstone Family Programs, Feb. 22, 2019. Photo by Marion Filler

“Our vision is to build a brand new community center, which will be several years in the making. But in the meantime, we have to make sure that the quality of our programs and facilities are up to snuff for what our community deserves.”

She cited revival of the summer basketball league as one of her goals.

Several of Viki Craig’s quilts, rarely shown, are on display. Morristown natives Ronald Ritzie and Charles Caldwell also are represented at the gallery,  along with Alonzo Adams, Romare Bearden, Bisa Butler, Leroy Campbell, and many others.

Morristown artist Ronald Ritzie with his works, at the 70 South Gallery, Feb. 22, 2019. Photo by Marion Filler.
Morristown artist Ronald Ritzie with his works, at the 70 South Gallery, Feb. 22, 2019. Photo by Marion Filler.

The two-day festival concludes today, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, from 10 am to 5 pm. Performances are scheduled by violin students from Rhythms for Life and the Nabe Afterschool Ensemble.

Meanwhile, talks continue to reopen Morris County’s Atrium Gallery and revive Art in the Atrium. Bowing to a judge’s concerns about impartiality, county officials shut the gallery in the Administration and Records Building last month.

Guests at Friday’s reception also were hoping it wasn’t the swan song for the 70 South Gallery, which seeks a new business partner to avoid closure next month.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Art in the Atrium and the 70 South Gallery have contributed so much to the cultural vitality of Morristown, that make it such a special place to live, work and visit.

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