William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Monday, June 12, 2017

#79 - Using Art for Worthy Causes and The North City Congress

                    Executive Director Joan Hardaway and yours truly at the Gala event

Fellow Art Lovers:

The first time I visited the North City Congress senior center up on North Broad Street in Philadelphia two years ago, I felt a rush of human warmth. The center is housed in well-maintained two-story brownstone, just south of Temple University.  When I glanced around the center’s main hall at the people at tables chatting and eating lunch, they smiled at me as though they knew me. The receptionist immediately arranged for the staff to show me to the boardroom, where, on the wood-paneled wall, I was able to view the landscape painting of Normandy I had contributed a few months earlier – seeing the location of my painting was my purpose for being there. The Congress’ members I chatted with were friendly and sweet. I can’t really explain my emotions, but I felt very good about the visit.

Driving back to my painting studio near Kensington and Allegheny in North Philadelphia, I found myself thinking how great it would be to do something for those people, to use my art to make a small contribution to help support their programs. The Congress offers its more than 300 members a wealth of activities – from dance and exercise to card games, knitting and excursions – and it gives counseling on all kinds of issues, from government assistance programs to personal concerns.

Just after that first visit, I did try one project, but it didn’t work out, which was partly my fault. My idea was to produce a series of paintings that would be sold for the center’s benefit. But frankly, I didn’t like the paintings I started work on; and the center was undergoing some staff changes, and there was no one to authorize the project.

                 Painter Harald Grote enjoys the Gala at Maison 208 in Philadelphia

Then, this past January, the planets seemed to line up in just the right way for an even better project. I’d started a series of paintings that really moved me emotionally, and I really like the style that developed naturally from the paintings’ content. All of you have seen this series of paintings – which I called “Hope at K and A,” on my blog over the past months. I felt good about these paintings, and I wanted to share them with a wider audience, and I thought they could do some good.

Something told me to telephone the North City Congress, and I was immediately connected with the Congress’ new executive director. One planet after another joined the straight line that seemed to assure success. The new executive director, Joan Hardaway, just happened to love art, and when she saw my first painting on line, “Hope at K and A,” she loved that, too. Then she told me that she was planning a fund-raising gala at a new restaurant, Maison 208, in center city Philadelphia on June 8th.

Why a fund-riser? It goes without saying that most non-profit service organizations aren’t swimming in cash. But also, it so happens that the Congress had been the victim of a burglary, and the criminals had made off with television sets at the center; besides that, the Congress was in need of tables for the center’s activities.

Now that it was clear the Congress needed money, the next step was to find the right idea to raise it. The best ideas have been used before. Over the years I’ve contributed my Normandy landscapes to the Alliance Francaise of Philadelphia and French International School of Philadelphia, for silent auctions to help support their programs. So, this was obvious.

Then, some more planets started lining up to fill out the program. Joan Hardaway visited my studio, and I’m happy to say that she she likes my work in general, and she thought using my painting “Hope at K and A” for the fund-raiser would be a good idea. I’m also happy to say that our ideas meshed completely on how artwork could play a role in the “The North City Congress First Annual Benefit Reception,” and she turned out to be a dedicated and decisive executive who knows how to get things done.

                    Jazz and hors d'oeuvres while guests view paintings
                            from the Philadelphia Sketch Club 

Since my first visit at the North City Congress two years earlier, I had become a board member of the Philadelphia Sketch Club, a group of talented visual artists who are dedicated to helping each other and promoting the appreciation of art. The club has been operating since 1860, and it now has more than 240 members.

At the next board meeting following my meeting with Joan Hardaway, I presented the idea of the Philadelphia Sketch Club becoming a sponsor of the gala event and also asking our artists to donate their works to be sold at the event. Led by the Sketch Club’s President Richard Harrington, the board’s support was enthusiastic.  In addition to me, seven other visual artists donated works for the event. Here are their names, their websites and the titles of their works. For the moment, their contributions are on the Congress’ website – www.north-city.org

Here’s a list of the participating artists, their websites, and titles of their contributions: 
Ed Bronstein, www.edbronstein.com, Twin Bridges
Larry Chestnut, www.chestnutart.com, Joel’s Teapot
Wayne Franks, wayfranks@comcast.net, Spring Green: Bucks County
Gina Furnari, www.ginafurnari.com, untitled
Harald Grote, http://art-by-harald.blogspot.com, Lily Abundance, Basket of Fruit
William Kosman, www.williamkosman.blogspot.com, Hope at K and A
Jim Stewart, www.jimstewartpainting.com, Along County 604
Mary Waltham, www.MaryWaltham.com, Barnegate Bay, After the Harvest

                       Executive Director Joan Hardaway explains her mission and 
                       thanks guests for their support to The North City Congress

June 8 arrived, and the event was a success. More than 80 people – among them supporters of the Congress and community leaders – gathered under a starry night  surrounded by the dramatic architecture of Maison 208 and the easy sounds of a jazz quintet. Attorney Alvin Echols and State Senator Sharif Street made short statements after being honored for their support of the Congress. Executive Director Joan Hardaway talked about her mission and then thanked everyone present for their support. Almost all of the paintings were sold.   

I also made a short statement. I thanked Joan Hardaway and the Congress for including the Philadelphia Sketch Club in the event. I thanked the Sketch Club artists for their contributions, and I expressed a message that I’m sure I didn’t invent but I believe is important: Art can do wonderful things: Art can give true pleasure; it can expand our horizons; and once in a while it can help make concrete contributions to worthy causes.

                                     Yours truly has a few words to say 

If you want information about the North City Congress, you can access www.north-city.org and if you want info about the Philadelphia Sketch Club, you can access www.sketchclub.org

Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.

Of course, I'd love to hear your comments, and I'd love for you to check out the work of the artists who contributed their works.