Bethany Arts Community (BAC) is honored to announce its 4th annual Black History & Culture exhibition, titled “Black History & Culture: BLACK PRESENCE. PROFOUND INFLUENCE.” The exhibition is curated by Ossining Village Historian, Joyce Sharrock-Cole.
The 4th installation of this award-winning exhibition will open on February 2, 2024, and will be on view in BAC’s galleries through March 8, 2024. It will expand the historic storytelling out of the Ossining borders into the surrounding communities that have impacted the world. Each uniquely themed Exhibit Gallery will highlight a particular period in American History where the Black presence made a profound impact on the community.
The exhibition will utilize oral history accounts and genealogical research to unearth the histories of Black entrepreneurs and Black organizations from all facets of the community’s business and social life. Programming throughout the month will include “Night at the Museum” an opening reception, an original theatre production “The Execution of Helen Ray Fowler,” talks, a film screening, guided curator tours, and a living museum with local actors. Events will take place in person, online, and traveling throughout the year with the exhibition’s History Walls.
A notable addition is an exhibit room dedicated to the history of the Rosenwald schools, highlighting the partnership of Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington, who built schools and buildings that supported the education of Black people during the Jim Crow era.
A programming highlight is “The Execution of Helen Ray Fowler,” an original play written by playwright, Misha T. Sinclair, with content created by Joyce Sharrock-Cole. In a notorious red-light district of Niagara Falls, Helen Ray Fowler, a thrice-married woman with five children, ran a boarding house while her husband was drafted into war (WWII) in 1943. Her fragile family dynamic is disastrously disrupted when she takes up with the new hothead boarder, George Knight. A fit of jealousy and a series of bad decisions results in a man’s death. Tried, convicted, and sent “up the river’ to Sing Sing Prison’s condemned cells, they meet their end in “Old Sparky” and Helen makes history as the only black woman legally executed in the state of New York.
The production is directed by Mel Hancock and features an ensemble of local actors including Donna James (as Helen Fowler), Steve Allen (as George Knight), Brian Bagot (as William Fowler), Rick Levi (as Lee Clark), Justin Gordon (as Andrew), Chasity Perez (as Carla January Philips), Keith Bullock (as Walker Earl Thomson), Jessica Bonds (Birdie Johnson), Caturah Brown (as Ruth Persons), Wanda Tyson (as Genevieve Persons), Richard Troiano (as Prosecutor), Nick Byrne (as Defense Attorney), Jeff Ramsey (as Detective Fitzsimmons), Ari Mack (as Soldier Paul W. Blackwell), and Katrina Holmes (as Death House Matron).
The play will take place February 16 – February 25, 2024. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm, and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $30 General Admission and $25 Senior/Student. Tickets are available on the Bethany Arts Community website. Please be advised, this show is meant for mature audiences only. Highly suggested for audiences 18+.
We are excited to announce our partnership with the Ossining and Tarrytown School Districts and their commitment of 4,000 student visitors and families for 2024. We have expanded our student docent program to include adults, and students from the 5th-12th grade. The Docents guide students and community members through the exhibit’s educational experiences. If you are interested in being an adult docent and leading guided tours for local students and community groups, please reach out to Bethany Arts Community at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year we are continuing a collaboration with Claremont School in Ossining to include student voices in the exhibit. Under the theme of IMPACT and as part of Claremont’s Heritage Week Identity Project, students will be asked to create artwork that expresses what they think about their impact in our community. The artwork will be displayed for the duration of the exhibit.
The exhibition is free and open to the public during gallery hours: Monday – Friday 10am-4pm, and on specific Saturdays including February 3, 10, 17, 24, March 2, 10am-4pm. The exhibition is closed on Sundays.
Walk & Talk tours led by curator Joyce Sharrock-Cole are scheduled for Wednesday, February 7 and Wednesday, February 28 at 6pm. Walk & Talk tours are $25 Adult and $15 Student/Senior.
Black History Month programs at Bethany Arts Community are sponsored by Theater O and Journeys to Change.
Bethany Arts Community seeks sponsorship to continue the success of this engaging exhibition of Black History and Culture in Ossining, greater Westchester, and beyond. Sponsorships offer a unique opportunity for our community, art lovers, businesses, and individuals to support. Businesses can have their brands prominently displayed in conjunction with the exhibit. BAC is a non-profit organization serving the lower Hudson Valley of New York State and beyond. Our goal is to provide a welcoming and supportive environment in which all artists and community members can learn, create, and flourish. All contributions are tax- deductible. Sponsorships will be taken on a rolling basis.