By Lee Perlman
For the Hollywood Star News, June, 2010
This year’s Alberta Art Hop is a farewell for one of its supporters and a last opportunity to give support to some young artists.
Kathe Swaback and her non-profit Art Up have been features of Art Hop for the past two years. Two years ago, in her Women of Honor project, she and other artists painted larger-than-life portraits of 12 prominent African-American women, living and dead, and recruited nine African-American teenagers to execute the paintings. It helped educate the young women about these heroines for the first time. The artwork, after being displayed at Art Hop, was exhibited at other venues, including the walls of City Hall. Last year, Art Up and Art Hop exhibited the work of one of the Women of Honor, artist and dancer Thelma Johnson Street.
At the Art on Alberta annual meeting this winter, Swaback announced that the art work is being sold, with the proceeds going to the young artists who painted them, helping finance their ongoing education. Monie Bowles, who painted the portrait of Street, has been accepted at Xavier University and is awaiting word on her application to the San Francisco Art Institute. The sale “means we can go to college with a little more cash in our pockets,” Bowles said.
One of the Women of Honor, former state senator Avel Gordley, purchased her own portrait, then donated it to the Avel Gordley Head Start Center for permanent display. Speaking to the young artists she said, “You are the best we have. You are all we have. You are what we have. Go out and get it and claim it.”
Swaback, who worked with Adrienne Cruz and Lillian Pitt in the course of her projects, will be leaving soon to pursue art work in Boston. At the annual meeting Cruz told Swaback, “Kathe, we love you. You have been a gift and a blessing. We wish you well. She hasn’t been here that long, but she’s made such an impact. You’re supposed to leave a place more beautiful than you found it, and you’ve certainly done that.”