Bette on The Honorary Committee: Harlem Lost and Found

( BW)(NY-JPMORGAN/MCNY) Harlem Lost and Found On View at the Museum of the City of New York May 3, 2003 – January 4, 2004
Business Editors

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–April 28, 2003–JPMorgan Chase:

Largest group of Madam C. J. Walker and A’Lelia Walker materials ever to be exhibited in New York

Exhibition Honorary Committee in formation
SMAK Design & Projects to design the exhibition

Press Preview: Tuesday, April 29, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m


The Museum’s main floor south exhibition galleries will be filled with rich evocations of Harlem’s past as well as documents of the area’s bright future when Harlem Lost and Found opens on May 3. The exhibition will trace the architectural history of Harlem from pre-Revolutionary times to World War I, as it emerged from farmland and suburb to thriving metropolis on the eve of its explosion into world consciousness as the “Cultural Capital of Black America.” Inspired by the book of the same title by architectural historian and Harlem resident Michael Henry Adams, who serves as the exhibition’s guest curator, Harlem Lost and Found features images from the Museum’s rich collections and arresting color photographs of contemporary Harlem by Paul Rocheleau. Furniture, sculpture, costumes, tableware, and ephemera that belonged to Harlem residents ranging from Alexander Hamilton to Madam C. J. Walker evoke the real-life, everyday Harlem. The exhibition pays tribute to the past while it also celebrates Harlem’s ongoing revival and those who cherish its architectural heritages.

Following a layout conceived by SMAK Design & Projects, the exhibition will be organized in two adjacent galleries. It begins with a series of color portraits of contemporary Harlem residents who are guarding Harlem’s past. That section leads into a rich assemblage of paintings, photographs, furniture, costumes, sculpture, and silver that document the early history of Harlem–the Harlem not yet annexed to the City of New York, the Harlem of race tracks and mansions in sylvan settings. Among the items on view are furniture from Hamilton Grange (the Harlem estate of Alexander Hamilton), a dress worn by Madame Stephen Jumel (nee Eliza Bowen) at Morris-Jumel mansion, and a startlingly fresh painting, ca. 1830 by an anonymous artist, of the Archibald D. Watt mansion at present-day West 139th-140th Streets. The Watt mansion, remarkably well documented in a 1908 series of photographs by Edwin Levick, was demolished in 1925.

Much of the main 2,400-foot gallery will feature separate sections on individual neighborhoods within Harlem. Each neighborhood section will be realized with both historical and contemporary photographs and with objects of many kinds. Of special note is the collection of items to be lent by A’Lelia Bundles, great-great granddaughter of Madam C. J. Walker and great granddaughter of A’Lelia Walker. Madam Walker, one of the first self-made American woman millionaires, was in the vanguard of the movement to Harlem by African Americans in the years preceding World War I.

Madam Walker hired black architect Vertner W. Tandy to convert two adjacent townhouses into a home, hair care parlor, and school at 108-110 West 136th Street. A rare series of photographs by the well-known Byron Company documents the home and hair care parlor in 1915. A’Lelia Walker, who lived at this address, later moved to Edgecombe Avenue. Her secretary, china, tableware, costume items, books, photographs, Tarot cards, and jewelry to be displayed near the Central Harlem section have never before been shown together in New York.

Other objects on display singly and in groups will include a grotesque (gargoyle) from City College, removed from the facade of one of the early buildings at the Convent Avenue site designed by George B. Post, and recast in terra cotta as part of the institution’s efforts to preserve its own architectural history. Architectural elements rescued by preservationist and curator Michael Henry Adams from a variety of Harlem sites–including the former Audubon Theatre and Ballroom – give resonance to the photographs of structures that are no more. A group of photographs and documents–including a letter written by a black New Yorker who suffered through the race riot of 1900 on the middle West Side of Manhattan, then the major black residential area– will provide context for the movement of African Americans into Harlem. These materials will also suggest why black New Yorkers regarded Harlem as a “Promised Land” for African Americans and why that sense of promise helped nurture the explosion of talent that came to be known as the Harlem Renaissance.

The exhibition honorary committee, to be co-chaired by the Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Honorable Charles B. and Mrs. Alma Rangel, includes such stellar New Yorkers as:

— Jean-Claude Baker
— Hon. Stanley E. Michels
— Laurie Beckelman
Bette Midler
— Phyllis Briley
— Mr. and Mrs. Leigh Miller
— Dr. Roscoe C. Brown Jr.
— Arthur Mitchell
— Mario Buatta
— Jessye Norman
— Mrs. William F. Buckley Jr.
— Rev. Neil O’Connell
— Evelyn Cunningham
— Gordon Parks
— Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis
— Hon. Basil and Mrs. Portia
— Leni Darrow
— Hon. David and Mrs. Joyce Dinkins — Samuel Peabody
— Michael Eberstadt
— Hon. William Perkins
— Sherman Edmiston Jr.
— Hon. Adam Clayton Powell IV
— Elaine Edmonds
— Isabel Washington Powell
— Hon. C. Virginia Fields
— Hon. Philip Reed
— Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.
— Andrew Schieffelin
— Christabel Gough
— Timothy Schieffelin
— Frederick W. Hill
— Bobby Short
— Hon. Robert Jackson
— Mr. and Mrs. Larry A. Silverstein
— Eula C. Johnson
— Mr. and Mrs. James Kingsland
— Robert A. M. Stern
— Eartha Kitt
— Martha Stewart
— Nancy Lane
— Hon. Percy Sutton
— Susana Torruella Leval
— Rev. Canon Frederick Williams
— Hon. Carolyn Maloney
— Hon. Olga A. Mendez
— Dr. Gregory Williams
— Lloyd A. Williams
— Sheena Wright
— Julian Zugazagoitia

Harlem Lost and Found is made possible by a generous grant from JPMorgan Chase.

Additional funding and in-kind support have been provided by Christabel Gough, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Blumenfeld Development Group, Ltd., Schieffelin & Somerset Co., the Ralph J. Rangel Foundation, and Mr. Sandy Starkman.

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