Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gee's Bend Quilt Auction to Benefit Clinton Bush Haiti Fund

Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation to Receive Funds Raised

MIAMI, FLORIDA – (March 11, 2010) -- The Bernice Steinbaum Gallery announces an auction of quilts from Gee’s Bend and Friends of Gee's Bend to benefit the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund in association with the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance. The auction takes place on Saturday, March 13, 2010, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at 3550 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33127. Judge Karen Mills-Francis, star of the television series, Judge Karen’s Court, and author of Stay in Your Lane, is the auctioneer. The auction is open to the public.

The auction items include seven quilts by individual Quilters of Gee's Bend, one intaglio print by Mary Lee Bendolph donated by Paulson Bott Press, and one quilt from fiber artist, Mary McCarthy, a friend of the Gee's Bend quilters. The highlight of the auction is a collaborative quilt -- by 20 of the Gee's Bend quilters - entitled Gee's Bend Quilters Outreach to Haiti. Reserve prices range from $2,000 to $25,000. Judge Karen Mills-Francis will serve as auctioneer.

In addition to the donation of the artwork by the Quilters of Gee’s Bend, the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery has generously donated its commission and the cost of packing and shipping following the auction.

"The women of Gee's Bend make quilts that are eye-dazzlingly beautiful. How moving that these women who are descendants of slaves offer their work for auction to help the Haitian people who are suffering from the after effects of the earthquake. How appropriate for this auction to take place in an art gallery; the Quilts of Gee's Bend prove definitively that the quilt is off the bed and on the wall," says Bernice Steinbaum.

In the aftermath of the earthquake the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective determined that an auction of quilts to raise much-needed funds was their path. Bernice Steinbaum and artist Edouard Duval Carrié (through his role as Director of the Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance) were contacted and an event was born. Miami is the locus of Haitian life in the United States and thus the perfect location for an auction. Once partners were secured, the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective contacted the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to coordinate efforts ensuring that the funds raised would be channeled properly to Haiti.

“The earthquake in Haiti brings to mind the disaster that took place in Gee’s Bend in 1930. My father, Rev. Purnell Bennett, born September 17, 1917 in Gee’s Bend, told us the story of the tragedy often to remind us how we overcame with the help of others. In 1930 a local merchant who had extended credit to the residents of the Bend died. His heirs demanded immediate repayment of all debts. To meet the demands, families sold their animals, tools and seed to raise the money. The community survived thanks to the Red Cross. They provided rations and the acts of giving, a lesson passed down from generation to generation in our community. We survived this tragedy with the assistance of others and that’s why we are giving from our hearts. Our quilts have warmed families for hundreds of years and through this auction we will raise funds that will provide Haitians some comfort and necessities. Residents of Gee’s Bend will donate cash to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to provide additional support,” says Lovett Bennett, President of the Gee’s Bend Foundation.

More than 20 quilters will be featured at the auction on March 13, and reserve prices range from $2,000 to $25,000. Mary Lee Bendolph and Loretta P. Bennett are donating quilts entitled “Road to Recovery” and “Strong,” respectively. The list of quilters donating to the auction includes Marlene Bennett Jones, Qunnie Pettway and Nettie Young among others to be named shortly. (Images are available upon request). The Quilters of Gee’s Bend are designing a tribute quilt specifically for the auction. This group endeavor is comprised of individual squares created by the group then pieced and quilted.

Paulson Bott Press is donating an intaglio print entitled, Black & Brown, 2005 by Mary Lee Bendolph. The reserve price is $2,000.
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About the participants:

Clinton Bush Haiti Fund

The earthquake that rocked the coast of Haiti killed or injured a devastating number of people. Even more were left in need of aid, making this is one of the major humanitarian emergencies in the history of the Americas. In the aftermath of the disaster, President Barack Obama asked President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush to raise funds for immediate, high-impact relief and long-term recovery efforts to help those who are most in need of assistance. In response, the two Presidents established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) to respond to unmet needs in the country, foster economic opportunity, improve the quality of life over the long term for those affected, and assist the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and “build back better.” The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund will do this by working with and supporting the efforts of reputable 501(c)(3) nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations. Presidents Clinton and Bush oversee the CBHF through their respective nonprofit organizations, the William J. Clinton Foundation and Communities Foundation of Texas. One hundred percent of donations received by the Clinton Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas go directly to relief efforts. For more information, visit

Quilters of Gee’s Bend

Gee’s Bend, a miniscule rural community, is nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times on the site of cotton plantations owned by Joseph Gee, the town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Modern Art. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through multiple generations to the present and in 2002, an exhibition of 70 quilt masterpieces from the Bend premiered at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

“The Quilts of Gee’s Bend” exhibition has been presented at more than a dozen major museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Newsweek, NPR, CBS News Sunday Morning, House and Garden, and Oprah’s O Magazine are just a few of the hundreds of print and broadcast media organizations that have celebrated the quilts and history of this unique town. Art critics worldwide have compared the quilts to the works of important modern artists, such as Henri Matisse, and the New York Times called the quilts “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” For more information, visit

Bernice Steinbaum Gallery

The Bernice Steinbaum Gallery first opened its doors in New York City in 1977. Considered a pioneer for galleries showcasing women artists and artists of color the gallery remained in New York City for 23 years before moving the center of its operations to Miami, Florida in 2000.

The gallery shows a collection of stories made by artists that promote, explore, and appreciate the contribution of diverse people made across the globe. These stories foster a greater understanding of human history and promote cross-cultural communication.

Steinbaum is proud to represent three Macarthur “Genius” award winners; Pepon Osorio, Amalia Mesa and Deborah Willis, five Guggenheim, multiple National Endowment Winners, two Annenberg fellows, among other grant winning artists. In addition the gallery regularly organizes group shows which travel to various museum facilities, an unusual activity for a gallery which occurs primarily because of the director’s own academic art history background.

Judge Karen Mills-Francis

Miami native Judge Karen practiced criminal defense law in Florida for 13 years in the Office of the Public Defender, as well as in private practice. She was appointed a Traffic Magistrate by the Dade County Chief Judge in 1998 to hear non-criminal traffic cases. Driven by the lack of diversity in the court system, Judge Karen decided to run for a judgeship in 2000, winning her first election by overthrowing a longtime incumbent and becoming the second African American woman to serve on the bench in Miami-Dade County.

Judge Mill-Francis is famous for the lines “Stay in your Lane, I know how to Drive.” 2010 finds her back in session on television with Judge Karen’s Court. Judge Karen is the author of newly published “Stay In Your Lane: A Navigational Guide to Living Your Best Life.”

After twice being elected to the position of Miami-Dade County Judge, Judge Karen made it her mission to support those who are at risk of getting lost in the legal system. Inspired by her previous work at the public defender’s office in the juvenile division, she has become known as an ardent backer of children’s advocacy programs and domestic violence prevention programs and regularly calls on lawyers to act on behalf of children in crisis. She became a foster mother herself to a child she first encountered in court and over the years she has repeatedly opened her home to children in need.

Edouard Duval Carrié

A figurative artist who works on canvas, installations, and sculpture employing found objects, resin and now aluminum fiber optics, Edouard Duval Carrié was born and raised in Haiti. He is not outside the mainstream; he is engaged with artists in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Africa, and of course the Caribbean. His art deals with symbols of violence in colonial society and the ways of war, exile, displacement, all universal themes for the strife of peoples worldwide. His work deals with the history of Haiti, its legacy of slavery, its uneasy relations with other countries, its internal political, racial and class struggles. His art and his imagination is also engaged in the Afro-Haitian worship of voodoo. He has founded the Haitian Art Relief Fund in response to the January 2010 earthquake.

Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance

The Haitian Cultural Arts Alliance (Alyans Atizay Ayisyen, Inc) was founded in 1994. It is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Afro Caribbean history, with an emphasis on Haitian culture, focusing in the areas of music, literature, dance, and the visual arts. HCAA is the home of the Haitian Cultural Alliance Archive, which houses a priceless collection of historical documents. This collection includes manuscripts, documents signed by founding fathers, maps, architectural renditions, new and old books, photographs, and films on Haiti and the Afro-Caribbean. HCAA takes pride and joy in facilitating and mounting art exhibits, presenting poets, musicians, and artists of all genres to a larger South Florida audience. HCAA also facilitates the Haiti Pavilion at the prestigious Miami International Book Fair annually. Through this effort, countless writers have been introduced to the public, raising the awareness of our rich cultural diversity.

Paulson Bott Press

Specializing in limited edition intaglio prints, Paulson Bott Press emerged from the San Francisco Bay Area’s rich tradition of fine art printmaking. Paulson Bott Press’s philosophy is to facilitate rather than direct an artist, creating an environment where artists can do their best work.

Founders Pamela Paulson and Renee Bott were trained to help artists explore the parameters of this unique art form. Paulson and Bott gained invaluable experience working as master printers under the tutelage of Kathan Brown at Crown Point Press. While there they worked with a broad range of artists including John Cage, Richard Diebenkorn, Judy Pfaff, Pat Steir, and Wayne Thiebaud. Paulson holds an MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute and Bott holds an MFA in printmaking and drawing from the California College of Arts.