ArtsWestchester’s Arts Award Celebrates Local Individuals and Groups

Every year, ArtsWestchester recognizes the work of local individuals and organizations that have significantly impacted the cultural life of Westchester. The annual Arts Award luncheon, this year at the Brae Burn Country Club on June 30, applauds these honorees, bringing together artists, government officials and business leaders – all to celebrate the arts. Along the way, ArtsNewshas been featuring the 2020 Arts Award honorees. This month, read about several honorees on this spread.  For more info about the Arts Award luncheon, purchasing tickets, and the full list of 2020 honorees, visit

The Romita Family to Receive the
Emily & Eugene Grant Arts Patron Award

Pelham residents Mauro and Camille Romita have dedicated themselves to philanthropic endeavors, including the arts. Even during his time as President of Castle Oil Corporation, Mauro dedicated his time to numerous charitable institutions such as Sound Shore Medical Center, the College of New Rochelle and St. Joseph’s seminary. Camille’s passion for the arts and their power to transform local communities compelled her to join a small group of inspiring women who took the Pelham Art Center from an early experiment into a thriving hub of culture and learning.  She served as its President for over ten of the most formative years of the organization’s 50-year history.

Camille and Mauro Romita instilled in their children the same sense of community responsibility and civic duty that they learned from their own immigrant parents. Carla, a successful lawyer and businesswomen, has served on the boards of many philanthropic and educational institutions; Michael, a former U.S. Department of Justice litigator and newly appointed President and CEO of the Westchester County Association, has been appointed to numerous non-partisan County boards and local charities; and Paul, who has channeled his passion for world affairs into a career assisting global diplomats at the United Nations.

The City of New Rochelle to Receive the
Community Award

As the former home of Norman Rockwell and E. L. Doctorow, the City of New Rochelle lives up to its artistic roots. Most recently, it has launched a ten-year revitalization effort that includes the arts as a major component. The plan recognizes arts and culture as a strength of the City and its quality of life, in part by making the southern neighborhoods of the City more walkable and accessible. The initiative includes artist housing, an 8,000 square-foot black-box theater, artistic displays in vacant store fronts and a rooftop performance space. In 2019, eight dramatic murals curated by Street Art for Mankind were installed downtown, bringing new vibrant energy to the City’s streetscape. The two-mile walking tour of new works includes a massive ten-story painting on the side of the Radisson hotel.

The City of New Rochelle has embraced public art, including murals that envelop its downtown and a series of commissioned sculptures created for the City’s 325th anniversary. Through its partnership with the New Rochelle Council for the Arts, it also supports the robust Summer Sounds concert series in Hudson Park and the week-long arts festival, ArtsFest. Other arts organizations that contribute to the artistic life of the City are the New Rochelle Art Association, New Rochelle Opera, Westchester Symphony and New Rochelle Public Library with its Ossie Davis Theater.

Arnold Kastenbaum to Receive the Lawrence Salley Photography Award

In his work, award-winning artist and master printer Arnold Kastenbaum makes no attempt to depict an object as it naturally appears. Rather, his goal is to create a new object that did not exist before, presenting an alternative view of commonplace, mundane objects such as light bulbs or door knobs. As a result, his photographs become the object without regard to the subject matter. Kastenbaum works exclusively in a traditional black and white film and archival gelatin silver materials, personally printing all images using a darkroom process.

His love for photography stems from his teenage years – a passion that, after a long hiatus, was rekindled in recent years. He has since participated in numerous juried exhibitions at galleries and museums in Westchester County and New York City. He also teaches a personal vision workshop at SUNY Purchase College and was recently featured in Westchester Magazine as one of the County’s prominent visual artists.

A version of this article first appeared in the March issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at

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