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Black Tie International:
Brooklyn Arts Council Hosts Alive With Art

Jane Walentas

Jane Walentas working on the restoration of “Jane’s Crousel.”
Photo by: Cori Nelson

Brooklyn Arts Council hosts Alive With Art

A Party and Auction to Benefit the Arts in Brooklyn


March 23, 2010 


Brooklyn Arts Council will hold its annual benefit and auction, Alive With Art, on March 23, 2010 from
at The Bell House.Alive With Art will honor Michael A. Armstrong, a lifelong and
ardent supporter of Brooklyn's cultural community; Jane Walentas, acclaimed visual artist and restorer of Jane's Carousel; and Randy Weston, world-renowned African rhythms pianist, composer and lecturer.

Guests at Alive With Art will enjoy cocktails, hors d‘oeuvres by Taste Caterers and entertainment by the David O'Rourke Quintet with David O'Rourke (guitar), Jeremy Pelt (trumpet), George Mesterhazy & Fintan O'Neill (piano/keyboards) and Jonathan Mele (drums), performing classics from the Great American Songbook and more. The evening's entertainment also includes the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra, a fiscally sponsored project of Brooklyn Arts Council featuring young musicians ranging in age from 11 to 17. Brooklynites Johannes Smith (trumpet), Nick Green (saxophone) and Luca Rosenfeld (bass) are among the line-up of stellar young performers.

The benefit auction will include original artworks by artists
Audrey Frank Anastasi, A.J. Bocchino, Steve DeFrank,
Julian Jackson, Lisa Kellner, Anders Knutsson, Mike Lash, Fahamu Pecou, Melodie Provenzano, Susan Rowland,
Danny Simmons, and Heidi Van Wieren
, among others; a New York Water Taxi private charter,
a one-week stay at a beautiful villa in Calabria, Italy; fine wines and a host of other tempting items.


Individual tickets are $250, and group and corporate packages with ad pages in the commemorative journal are also available. All proceeds will benefit Brooklyn Arts Council’s programs and services.

Please visit  or contact
Katy Higgins at 718.625.0080 for more information and to purchase tickets.



Armstrong has been involved in the civic and cultural life of Brooklyn since the 1970s, as an award-winning newspaper editor, an ardent supporter of the arts and an active participant in the public life of the borough.

Armstrong spent more than two decades publishing community newspapers, founding The Phoenix Newspaper in Brooklyn in 1972, which chronicled and supported the renaissance of the borough’s cultural life. He also published The Villager, the hometown newspaper of Greenwich Village.

After his newspaper days, Armstrong became Director of Public Affairs for Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, responsible for research, media, public relations and special events for the Borough of Brooklyn. Upon the Borough President’s retirement, Armstrong became the Public Relations Director of Independence Community Bank its associated Independence Community Foundation. He is currently a media and marketing consultant at Armstrong & Associates.

A Brooklyn resident since the 1960’s, Armstrong has been a member of Brooklyn Arts Council's Board of Directors since 1980. He is also a member of the board of the Old Stone House Museum and has previously served as an officer and/or member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Press Association, Prospect Park Alliance, Brooklyn Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corp., the parent organization of the Atlantic Antic.

Jane Walentas

Walentas recently completed a 25 year, total restoration of a magnificent hand carved, 3-row, 48-horse Carousel. Made in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, the Carousel, now known as “Jane’s Carousel,” was the first to have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It will be permanently installed in Brooklyn Bridge Park, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges in an exciting pavilion designed by world renowned architect Jean Nouvel. Jane’s Carousel is scheduled to open to the public next spring 2011.

Walentas worked for many years as an Art Director for Estee Lauder and has had numerous design positions on other major consumer brands. She came to New York after working for an Advertising Agency, Testa Publicita, in Torino, Italy. Originally from Teaneck, N.J., Jane graduated from Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia in 1966 with a BFA in Advertising Design and received an MFA in Printmaking from NYU in 1985. Jane serves on the Board of Directors of Moore College of Art where she has recently established a fully endowed 4 year Scholarship and International Travel Fellowship.

Walentas has participated with her husband David and their son Jed in the development of the Dumbo neighborhood. The Walentas’ live and work (and play) in DUMBO, except on weekends when they play at their farm Two Trees Stables, a show horse and polo facility in Bridgehampton, L.I.

Randy Weston

After contributing six decades of musical direction and genius, Brooklyn-born Randy Weston remains one of the world's foremost pianists and composers today, a true innovator and visionary. Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa, his global creations musically continue to inform and inspire. "Weston has the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk, as well as the richest most inventive beat," states jazz critic Stanley Crouch, "but his art is more than projection and time; it's the result of a studious and inspired intelligence ... an intelligence that is creating a fresh synthesis of African elements with jazz technique.”

Weston’s first recording as a leader came in 1954 on Riverside Records’ Cole Porter in a Modern Mood. He played around New York with Cecil Payne and Kenny Dorham throughout the 1950’s, and it was during this period that he wrote many of his best loved tunes: "Saucer Eyes," "Pam's Waltz," "Little Niles," and "Hi-Fly."

Weston’s music in the 60’s drew in prominent African elements, showcased in albums such as "Uhuru Africa and Highlife: Music from the New African Nations." The 1990's witnessed a string of recordings on Verve Records that exhibited Weston’s pioneering musical aspirations. In 1991, he told the story of the roots of the blues on Spirits of our Ancestors. The Splendid Master Gnawa Musicians of Morocco was recorded in 1992, followed by Volcano Blues in 1993, Saga in 1996, Earth Birth in 1997, and Khepera in 1998, which drew connections between African and Chinese music.

Weston has garnered numerous awards, including an honorary Doctor of Music from Brooklyn College, tributes and residencies at New York University and Harvard, a Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Arts Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana’s Black Music Star Award, The French Order Of Arts And Letters, and a five-night tribute at the Montreal Jazz Festival. He was named Composer of the Year three times by Down Beat Magazine, and in 2009, Weston was added to the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame.


Founded in 1966, Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) is the leading nonprofit organization serving Brooklyn artists and cultural groups in the visual, performing, media and literary arts, and ensuring Brooklyn residents have access to affordable arts experiences. We are the go-to service group for Brooklyn artists, and for finding out about the wide array of cultural groups and projects in our area. We’re also one of the main organizations working to preserve the arts in Brooklyn schools, after school programs and community centers. Our leadership has helped Brooklyn become home to more artists than any other borough, and for the arts to flourish in Brooklyn’s amazing diversity of neighborhoods.

BAC has been called the best kept secret in the City. New Yorkers who attend our programs rave that this is where they discover new artists – from the cutting-edge to heritage-based.




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