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Rarely Exhibited Portraits by Harlem Renaissance Photographer James Van Der Zee at ArtsWestchester Gallery


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Rarely Exhibited Portraits by Harlem Renaissance Photographer James Van Der Zee at ArtsWestchester Gallery
White Plains Exhibit Explores the Diverse Faces of “Family”

White Plains, N.Y. (February 20, 2019) – A new exhibition opening early next month at ArtsWestchester’s gallery will feature a significant collection of 33 works, including six vintage prints, by Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zee.

In the era between the two World Wars, Van Der Zee’s New York studio was a place where the rising African American middle class in Harlem could be represented as they wished to be seen. Van Der Zee’s photographs, chosen and loaned by Westchester resident Donna Mussenden Van Der Zee, the photographer’s widow, provided the inspiration for  ArtsWestchester’s new exhibit titled Modern Families. The show also features work by ten contemporary photographers who address themes of family and community from diverse points of view.

Modern Families opens March 3 and runs through May 25 in the ArtsWestchester Gallery located at 31 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains.

“The bonds of family – both given and chosen – are some of the most powerful forces in our lives and our communities,” said Janet T. Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester. “This exhibition explores the diverse faces and relationships that represent ‘family’ from the perspectives of eleven regional photographers.”

The contemporary works in the exhibition include both studio-style portraiture and documentary work in which individuals and their given or chosen families interact in a variety of encounters between photographer and subject.  Chris Verene and Gillian Laub document their own extended families and friends in Galesburg, Illinois (Verene) and suburban Westchester (Laub). Iaritza Menjivar records her experience as the daughter of immigrants in an ongoing project titled “First Generation.”

Tom Atwood’s series, “Kings and Queens in Their Castles,” frames the gestures and expressions of LGBT couples and friends in richly informative home environments, while Stefan Radtke’s portraits of a wide range of Westchester families are compelling works of editorial photography.

Barry Mason’s ties to communities in Mount Vernon are evident in his photos of families at public and private gatherings, and Shayok Mukopadhyay’s portfolio, “The People of Port Chester” unfolds in one of Westchester’s most diverse cities. Ocean Morisset’s street photography includes portraits of young LGBT groups that exemplify the chosen family as a source of affinity and pride. In Sandra Wong Geroux’s photos, the domestic family and communities intersect in images of her son and the athletic teams of his schools and their competitors. John Shearer’s landmark images from his chronicle of a street gang in the South Bronx in the early 1970s investigate an extreme form of “family” bonds.

“The families we are given – blood relations – provide frameworks for the families we choose,” said Kathleen Reckling, ArtsWestchester Director of Public Programs. “Groups united by shared values, lifestyles, or emotional needs – religious associations, sports teams, or community groups, for example – may also be defined and experienced as family. Whether the ones made for us or the ones we make, the families we recognize are networks of support and interaction that contribute to our identities in the larger world. We invite you to explore all of this and more at ArtsWestchester.”

Modern Families is curated by Kathleen Reckling and Amy Kurlander. Group tours of Modern Families are available by appointment.  To book your tour of the exhibition, email [email protected].



Opening Reception: Sunday, March 3, 2019, 2-4 p.m.
RSVP requested online or to [email protected]

On View: March 5 – May 25, 2019
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 12-5 p.m., Saturday: 12-6 p.m.
Location: ArtsWestchester Gallery, 31 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains


Tom Atwood (New York City)
Gillian Laub (New York City/Westchester)
Barry Mason (Mount Vernon)
Iaritza Menjivar (Boston)
Ocean Morisset (Peekskill)
Shayok Mukhopadhyay
Stefan Radtke (Port Chester)
John Shearer (Katonah)
James Van Der Zee
Chris Verene (Brooklyn)
Sandra Wong Geroux (Larchmont)



Gallery Nite Out: Portrait Mode
Thursday, March 7, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. | $15
Meet us after work on the first Thursday of the month for an artsy happy hour! Tour ArtsWestchester’s new exhibition, Modern Families, with one of our curators and sit down for individual or group portraits off your own. Ticket includes entrance and two drink tickets.

Meet Best-Selling Children’s Book Author and Illustrator Todd Parr
Wednesday, April 10, 4:30-5p.m., Free
Award winning author and illustrator Todd Parr will read aloud and discuss several of his family-themed books, including The Family Book—a book that celebrates the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in. For ages 3-7. Books will be available for purchase.

Community Conversation with Todd Parr
Wednesday, April 10, 5:30-6:30p.m. | Free
Join us for a special talk by award winning author and illustrator Todd Parr on the subject of inclusivity and the representation of family in children’s books and television. A Q&A with the audience will follow. For adults and young adults.

Performing Families
Saturday, April 13, 7-9 p.m. | $10
Celebrate the bonds of music with four family ensembles as they perform and discuss the meaning of kinship, tradition and the arts. The event features indigenous Aztec dancers Grupo Atl-Tlachinolli, Benin family band Jomion and the Uklos, South Indian classical dancers Nalini and Maya Rao Murthy, and mother-daughter Korean music-dance trio Heejung, Zena, and Jaylyn Han. This program is part of ArtsWestchester’s Folk Arts Program, made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts.

About ArtsWestchester

For more than 50 years, ArtsWestchester has been the community’s connection to the arts. Founded in 1965, it is the largest, private, not-for-profit arts council in New York State. Its mission is to provide leadership, vision, and support, to ensure the availability, accessibility, and diversity of the arts. ArtsWestchester provides programs and services that enrich the lives of everyone in Westchester County. ArtsWestchester helps fund concerts, exhibitions and plays through grants; brings artists into schools and community centers; advocates for the arts; and builds audiences through diverse marketing initiatives. In 1998, ArtsWestchester purchased the nine-story neo-classical bank building at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue which has since been transformed into a multi-use resource for artists, cultural organizations, and the community. A two-story gallery is located on the first floor of ArtsWestchester’s historic building in downtown White Plains.