Nurturing the arts

Variety is the spice of Katonah – and the arts organizations that bear the northern Westchester village’s name.

“We live in a very diverse artistic and social community and the Katonah Museum Artists’ Association (KMAA) reflects this,” says Bernard Mindich, president of the organization’s advisory board. “Our member artists, who currently number more than 300, work in every medium and vary from talented amateurs to very highly regarded professionals. It is a great group of people and we have activities spread over the year to exhibit our work and foster relationships among ourselves and the larger community.”

The artists’ association “got going in 1990 as a grassroots effort of local artists who wanted to advance the visibility of arts of all kind in the community. KMAA wanted not only to exhibit, but to hold events and do networking and mentoring to open up cultural experiences. The library helped us to get going with some initial showings and programs.”

As the Katonah Museum of Art — which began life in 1956 as the Katonah Gallery in the library — found a home of its own in a sleek, modern Edward Larrabee Barnes building that opened in 1990, the association, too, flourished, running along a parallel track with the museum that often intersected.

“The Katonah Museum of Art has always been very supportive of us and we value that relationship tremendously.” So it’s not surprising that the association’s mission is “to develop and enhance the artistic community by providing exhibition opportunities, educational programs and venues for networking while supporting the activities of the Katonah Museum of Art.”

Mindich says, “Our active artist members and large board of directors work together throughout the year to host three or more juried curated or open exhibitions for members at numerous community venues that have included ArtsWestchester; the Hammond Museum and Japanese Stroll Garden; the Ward Pound (Ridge Reservation) Gallery; the Katonah, Pound Ridge and White Plains libraries; Northern Westchester Hospital; the Schoolhouse Gallery; the Carriage Barn; the Stamford Art Gallery; the Sculpture Barn and the Putnam Arts Council, among others.”

On an annual basis, the artists’ association presents a variety of programs and events for its members and the general community, including “Meet Me,” in which members and guests travel and tour art venues throughout the tristate area; “Show and Tell,” with members presenting and discussing their work; “Artists Visiting Artists,” which involves going to member artists’ studios; “Creative Minds,” branching out with other creative people, not necessarily visual artists, to discuss their work and careers; and “Art and Antipasti,” an art salon held at a restaurant.

In recognition of the artists’ association’s work in fostering the arts, ArtsWestchester bestowed its 2016 Community Arts Award on the organization April 8.

“Our awards are presented annually by ArtsWestchester to recognize individuals and organizations whose vision, commitment and leadership have enriched the cultural life of Westchester County,” ArtsWestchester CEO Janet T. Langsam said.

The artists’ association was cited for its “juried, curated and open exhibition opportunities at community venues like the Northern Westchester Hospital. At the hospital, KMAA’s annual exhibitions enhance the healing environment and delight hundreds of patients, doctors, nurses and staff with original artwork.”

Mindich says the association is always thinking of new ways to bring the arts to the community. “I am particularly excited to mention a new and vital collaboration with the Katonah Museum. For a considerable time in the past, the KMAA has had a featured artist program in cooperation with the museum where a single work or two of a selected KMAA artist member was exhibited on a dedicated wall in conjunction with each new museum exhibit.

“This year the museum has committed to expand this featured-artist program to present the works of a single KMAA artist in a mini solo exhibition in the museum room now called The Spot simultaneously with each new general exhibition.”

The first of these mini solo exhibits featured the work of artists Marty Kremer and Roxanne Savage and opened with “Matisse Drawings Curated by Ellsworth Kelly From The Pierre and Tania Matisse Foundation Collection” (through Jan. 29).

There’s no doubt that Mindich will be among those drinking in the Henri Matisse drawings. A former attorney, he decided many years ago to follow his true passion.  “I began with painting and sculpture and now focus primarily on photography, using a thematic approach, and have published several books,” says the artist, who’s been on the association’s advisory board for 10 years. “I am happy to say I have been successful in my careers as an artist and my work is exhibited extensively and appears in private collections.”

A resident of Goldens Bridge, Mindich is married to violinist Ani Kavafian, a soloist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Her distinguished résumé includes serving as concertmaster for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and as a professor at the Yale University School of Music.

“Ani travels around the world and I often go with her,” he says.  “This is great because I see places and things I might not ordinarily see. I first saw her at the opening of Alice Tully Hall where she was concertmaster and was struck by her beauty, energy and vivacity. Thankfully, she remains the same. We have a truly symbiotic relationship with our love of the arts as its foundation.”

For more, email Bernard Mindich at BMind5@aol.com or call 914-232-2433.

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