Prominent Peekskill business owner Bre Pettis this past June announced a charitable initiative, Peekskill Art Grants, to assist local Black artists through financial aid that helps pay for the promotion and presentation of their work.
Throughout his tenure as a technology entrepreneur and futurist, has lent his moral and philanthropic support to a range of causes. Pettis is a 3D printing pioneer who, in 2019, relocated his company Bantam Tools to Peekskill from Berkeley, Calif.
He says that, in this moment, with the refrain of Black Lives Matter (BLM) resonating around the world, helping local black artists is a pressing need worth addressing.
“There are a whole list of causes I think are important right now, and this is the primary thing I’m doing at the moment,” he said. “The other most important one to pay attention to and fund is the movement for Black lives.”
Employing social media and other channels, information about the Peekskill Art Grants initiative was relayed organically (and very quickly) through the vibrant community of artists that characterizes Peekskill and its creative pulse.
“The artist network in Peekskill is good,” said Pettis. “I reached out to arts organizations and artists and asked them to spread the word. The local Peekskill social media folks posted it to Facebook and Instagram.”
He encourages artists in Peekskill to follow Instagram.com/peekskillartgrants to stay up to date on future art grant opportunities.
The program awarded a total of $5,000 to nine recipients, drawn from 12 applicants. The grants distributed ranged from $100 to $1500, based on the amount requested by the applicant to create their art, including shipping and materials.
Pettis explainedd that the purpose of the funding is to expedite the artistic process to have it displayed as soon as possible.
For example, he said, “In one project for a quilt, material had to come from Africa, and I overfunded that to pay for express shipping to get the material here faster to accelerate the showing of the work.”
His motivation for launching the grants initiative comes from his personal moral compass and his perspective as an artist. “It’s an important time right now for white people to do whatever they can to be supportive of Black people in our country in general. I am an artist and I have the ability to do it. It felt really good to be able to do something.”
Caitlyn G. Cashman is a marketing student based in Westchester.
Following are the six (out of nine) recipients announced at the writing of this article. For further information on all the recipients, including where their art can be seen, follow at IG @peekskillartgrants and check peekskillartgrants.com.
IG oceanstide; www.oceanmorisset.com
“My series for this grant shows the diversity and unity of the Peekskill community as they speak out as ONE against racial injustice. Our diversity is our strength. This needs to be reflected in all areas of the Peekskill community, including business and the arts.”
IG @eyepoetic; Youtube: Eye_Poetic
“My main goal is capturing the core essence of life through both my camera lens and my heartfelt words. If this isn’t the most important time to come together as human, then I don’t know when is.”
“My original work can be seen at The Fern Tree in the windows. I have quilted pillows and in the store I have quilts of all sizes.”
“Andre’s art work is mainly cartooning and animation. He incorporates himself in his artwork, which is about Black Lives Matter, but from how he sees it [as someone with] ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).”
“Just the Place Creative Arts Center offers its participants an opportunity to enhance their level of consciousness by exposing them to various forms of self expression, including, but not limited to, all genres of dance, music, theater and pageantry.”
IG @briatheartist; briatheartist.com/artgallery
“Primarily working with acrylic paint, My art captures the nurturing, leading spirit of the Black woman, the wise and protective nature of the Black man, and the ever-growing and learning spirit of the Black child. The “third eye” is used throughout many of my works as it symbolizes the innate sense of self, inner knowledge, divine power and intuition.”