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Music is the Theme for Harlem's 125th Street Banners
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Artists & Banners Presented at News Conference on
Thursday, June 10 at Hip Hop Culture Center in Harlem


(New York, NY, June 14, 2010) The BID ON CULTURE Project, a partnership of the 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) and the HARLEM Arts Alliance (HAA), announced at a news conference on Thursday June 10, 2010 the winners of the 2010 Banner Design Competition for 125th Street, and showcased their award-winning designs. 

The street banner design competition is intended to advance the branding of 125th Street as a premier cultural corridor.  The competition theme for 2010 was Music, and beginning in late June 2010, as part of the annual Black Music Month observance, 19 banners will be hung from street light poles along 125th Street from Morningside Avenue to 5th Avenue. 

The 3 selected artists whose street banner designs will be displayed along 125th Street are Nicole Brown (Harlem), Laura Gadson (Hip Hop) and Beatrice Lebreton (who will have two banners on display, In The Rapture and Solo).  Voza Rivers (Chair, HARLEM Arts Alliance) and Vincent Morgan (Chair, 125th Street BID) presented the artists while Barbara Askins (President and CEO of the 125th Street BID) gave an overview of the BID on Culture Project and solicited ideas for themes of future street banner designs.

Present at the unveiling were representatives of the banner sponsors, Curtis Archer (Harlem Community Development Corporation), Stephanie Kinlock (Con Edison), Vincent Morgan, TD Bank, Herb Boyd representing the Amsterdam News.  Also attending were several of the 2010 BID on Culture review panelists: Wayne Benjamin, AIA (Harlem Community Development Corporation) and art historian and curator, Debra Vanderberg-Spencer.

Also in attendance were Shelly Williams representing City Councilman Robert Jackson, Dani Tyson of Community Board 10 and Jeffrey Hamer of  NYC Business Solutions. The unveiling news conference, at the Hip Hop Culture Center in Harlem, preceded the 125th Street Business Improvement District’s 17th Annual Meeting.

Barbara Askins, President and CEO of the 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) said that "125th Street is the perfect canvas to showcase arts and culture through streetscape elements. This is our second year offering pole banners to artists as an avenue for their artwork to be seen.  We look forward to continuing our work with the HARLEM Arts Alliance and identifying other opportunities for artists.”BID ON CULTURE, which began in 2009, is a campaign to help build a community-based vision of Harlem’s heritage, its role as a vibrant cultural center, and to promote the continued revitalization of 125th Street as the commercial and artistic heart of Harlem. 

In 2009, the first BID ON CULTURE banners were displayed as a Women’s History Month tribute and featured the artists Andrea Arroyo, Laura Gadson, Wilhelmina Obatola Grant, Sharon Lewis, and Shimoda. The important role played by arts and culture in urban revitalization is well established, and is documented in the study, Creating a Cultural Destination, commissioned by the 125th Street BID in 2007, and available online at
These are the 3 selected artists:

NICOLE BROWN – Banner Title: "Harlem”
Nicole Brown is a freelance illustrator/graphic artist; she graduated from the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.  She further went on to Miami International University where she is yet to complete her Masters in Graphic Design.  Nicole Brown is a true artist at heart and loves her talent. 

Her well-rounded ability includes sculpting and painting, which she tries to perfect through constant practice.  She continues to educate herself by pursuing a diploma in digital media arts at TCI in Manhattan NYC.

LAURA GADSON – Banner Title: "Hip Hop” 
She is a quilt and fiber artist who has explored various art mediums including slip casting, stained glass and artistic fabric dying.  Quilting has been her primary medium of artistic expression since 2001.  Her work has been exhibited in the New York State Museum in Albany, The Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center, Columbia University and in national group exhibitions.  Her quilt portrait of Hazel Scott was selected as one of five works displayed as banners on West 125th Street in the inaugural BID on Culture Project in 2009. Ms. Gadson’s craftwork is in the private collections of Susan Taylor, Iyanla Vanzant and other collectors. 

In 2009 she coordinated Uptown Squared, a mixed media group exhibition at Harlem’s Gallery M and was curator of the opening exhibition of the Dwyer Cultural Center, Harlem Sewn Up 2009: Quilted Reflections of a Community, which has since moved to The Interchurch Center.  A Harlem brownstone has been her home, studio and personal gallery since 1993.  She is a founder of the Striver’s Art Circuit Tour, a promotional sidebar for artists participating in the Harlem Open Artist Studio Tour (HOAST) who live or work in Harlem’s famed Striver’s Row corridor.

BEATRICE LEBRETON – Banner Titles "In The Rapture” and "Solo”
She was born and raised in France. She attended La Sorbonne University in Paris, France where she received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Art and Ethno-Esthetics, specializing in African Art (an influence that can be seen in many of her works). 

She received her Master of Fine Arts (Drawing) from the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts. Ms. Lebreton came to the US in 1986, by way of San Antonio Texas and moved to Dallas in 1993. In 2004 she was commissioned to create a design for a floor medallion that is now a permanent fixture at the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Airport, International Terminal E.  She moved to New York City in March 2008.

The 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) A non-profit organization funded primarily from an additional tax assessment collected from the property owners within the defined boundaries.  Organized in compliance with state and city laws; the property and business owners determine the services and programs needed for the district.  The BID will utilize the competition to bring visibility to its streetscape improvement efforts and to enliven the community’s central business district. 

The HARLEM Arts Alliance (HAA) A not-for-profit service organization committed to nurturing the artistic growth and organizational development of artists and arts organizations based in Harlem and surrounding communities. Over 700 members strong, the HARLEM Arts Alliance provides a critical set of programs and services for its constituents and serves as a strong voice for the artistic and cultural life of Harlem.

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