The LeRoy Neiman and Good Tidings Foundations Gift NYC Students with an Art Studio Classroom at the Union Settlement in East Harlem

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A joyous dedication ceremony, ribbon-cutting and the inaugural art class for a beautiful LeRoy Neiman Art Studio School located at the Union Settlement Washington Community Center this past Thursday. This generous gift was made possible by the combined generosity and commitment of The LeRoy and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation and the Good Tidings Foundation of San Francisco, CA.

Alice Mizrachi, Artist & Yvonne Lamar, teacher Union Settlement at the inaugural art class at the LeRoy Neiman Art Studio Classroom with Good Tidings Foundation in East Harlem

David Nocenti, Executive Director of the Union Settlement welcomed guests, press and students who applauded when Proclamations from the City Council of New York City signed by the Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito of District 8 were presented to the Foundations. Steven Bond, President of the LeRoy Neiman Foundation, in the presence of Janet Byrne Neiman and Larry Harper, Founder of Good Tidings Foundation accepted the proclamations and spoke about the dedication to continuing the mission of the late artist LeRoy Neiman who was an advocate for fine arts education and empowerment for young people.

The leaders of the two Foundations also broke very exciting news for NYC students and other deserving children in the United States as well. Larry Harper announced they are doubling their original mission and now plan to create a total of ten LeRoy Neiman Art Studios with Good Tidings Foundation during a five year period. Steven Bond announced an additional funding commitment that will be increase the number of art classes at Union Settlement from three to five days per week.

The ceremony also featured the first look at a mural created by children under the direction of artist Alice Mizrachi. The students worked for three eight hour days to conceive, draw and paint the vibrant work of art.

The classroom and program was designed and funded by the two Foundations. At the very first class in the new LeRoy Neiman Art Studio classroom, guests and press watched Union Settlement teacher Yvonne Lamar give a lesson in line drawing to 8-12 year olds who each drew on canvas' that will be completed during future class sessions. Renowned artist/teacher, Alice Mizrachi and Harlem resident Kate Shindle, President of Union Actors' Equity and Miss America 1998, smiled as they sat alongside the students participating in the class.

Mayor, Bill de Blasio issued an official statement lavishing words of praise for the work of the Foundations and the Union Settlement for their support and investment in arts enrichment for New York City's students. He wrote, "I am delighted to applaud all those associated with it for helping our young residents channel their creative energy and become the next generation of talented artists."

In addition to the aforementioned names, participants included Estrella Alexandra Superintendent, Community District 4. From the Union Settlement Laura Johnson, Associate Executive Director and Steven Portericker, Director of Youth Services. John McNulty, of MBH Architects and Joe Rotondo of Schiment construction company assisted Larry Harper in turning the space into an inspirational art studio reminiscent of LeRoy Neiman's space where he painted for nearly half a century. James Purdy, a LeRoy Neiman Foundation Board of Director, Tara Zabor, Director of Operations and Kate Knostman, Administrative Assistant worked tirelessly to make the event a success.

Janet Byrne Neiman concisely summed up the day that marked a highpoint in the work of her Foundation in two words, "Overwhelming and inspirational."

The LeRoy Neiman Foundation in partnership with Good Tidings Foundation create opportunities for children to explore their creative talent and use their artistic abilities to learn about art, painting and drawing from experts. The LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation, established in 1986, seeks to perpetuate the legacy and philanthropic spirit of LeRoy Neiman, and to advance and share the impact of his life, his ideals and artwork in the US and throughout the world. The Foundation supports organizations that promote the study, improvement and advancement of the arts and provide opportunities for at-risk youth to develop paths to successful futures.

LeRoy Neiman shared this mission to connect New Yorkers to art, and through the foundation he created with his wife, he sought to support merging artists and offer them the same opportunities for mentorship and guidance he found so helpful throughout his own career. The Foundation continues to uphold Mr. Neiman’s commitment to philanthropy and to providing New York City children from underserved communities with the chance to express themselves through art at its LeRoy Neiman Art Studios. Steven Bond, President of The LeRoy Neiman Foundation explained, "Before LeRoy Neiman died in 2012, he saw a decline in public funding for art programs across the country. He left his Foundation to support arts education and to foster the dreams of emerging artists. With the help of Good Tidings & Larry Harper we hope that this new LeRoy Neiman Art Studio will be a great success in the Union Settlement Community."

In partnership with Good Tidings Foundation, a non-profit children's charity that looks to equally support arts, education, athletics and dreams for youth from communities of need, Good Tidings created the LeRoy Neiman Art Studio for Youth program and now builds two per year around the country. "It is an honor to continue my good friend, LeRoy Neiman’s, efforts to support arts education in his hometown. Good Tidings began the Art Studio program in California with LeRoy and will keep building for years to come." said Larry Harper, Founder of the Good Tidings Foundation.

“Union Settlement is committed to offering enriching arts activities for youth here in East Harlem, and I want to thank the Leroy Neiman Foundation and the Good Tidings Foundation for creating such a wonderful art studio for this to occur,” said David Nocenti, Executive Director of Union Settlement. Union Settlement Association is an on-the-ground resource for East Harlem residents, bringing education, wellness and community-building programs to people of all ages. Since opening its doors in 1895, Union Settlement has empowered New Yorkers, many of them new immigrants, with opportunities to better their lives and build the vitality and success of East Harlem. Union Settlement’s programs for children and youth emphasize academic and social support as well as development of artistic talents and creative expression.

Background on the Program

Art has a unique ability to impact children. It allows children to express themselves without a right or wrong way. Unlike other activities like music or athletics, which require special equipment or skill, art does not discriminate against those with fewer resources. For underserved youth or those speaking English as a second language, art is an even more important medium through which they can communicate their feelings.

In March of 1990 while working as the Director of Scouting for the San Francisco Giants, our Founder Larry Harper met Mr. LeRoy Neiman, who had been commissioned to paint 'Bay Area Baseball', the official art of the 1989 World Series. Larry and LeRoy struck up a lifelong friendship and the partnership that eventually grew into the first of many youth art centers.

Good Tidings built the first LeRoy Neiman Art Center at New Traditions School in San Francisco in February of 2000. Later that year, we constructed performing arts studios for dance and music at Menlo Oaks School in East Palo Alto. In 2002, Good Tidings dedicated another LeRoy Neiman Art Center for Youth at Amesti School in Watsonville, which serves migrant farm worker and Native American families.

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Gail Parenteau