Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Celebrities and Friends Welcome the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art to Santa Monica

Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

On Saturday October 16, 2010, Paul Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, Eric Hanks, brother of Camille Cosby; Carolyn Wright-Lewis and Ed Lewis hosted a fundraising event at the M Hanks Gallery in Santa Monica, California on behalf of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. The reception was organized by the Sanaa Circle, a recently formed group that consists primarily of African-American lawyers, who aim to raise money and awareness for the museum.

Guests heard from Dr. Johnnetta Cole, who became Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art last year after a career as president of two historically black women’s colleges, Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., and Spelman College in Atlanta. Guests included CCH Pounder of Law and Order fame, Lorraine Toussaint, star of Any Day Now, Essence magazine founder Ed Lewis, and acclaimed artist Phoebe Beasley.

Actors CCH Pounder and Lorraine Toussaint

Guest, Essence magazine co-founder Ed Lewis, and artist Phoebe Beasley

Artist Phoebe Beasley (second from right) with guests and members of the Sanaa Circle

Dr. Cole said of the night, “There was a magical air about our friends and fund raising reception at the M Hanks Gallery. All of us at the National Museum of African Art remain deeply grateful to our friends who sponsored this wonderfully successful event: Paul Hastings, Janofsky and Walker, Carolyn Wright Lewis and Ed Lewis, Eric Hanks, and the Sanaa Circle, a support group for our museum.”

The evening’s host Barbara Johnson and Sanaa Circle member thought the evening was especially inspirational. “Not only did we have an opportunity to hear about Dr. Cole's vision for the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, we had the added treat of meeting Phoebe Beasley, a world renowned African American artist, whose works are on display at the Hanks Gallery. This event was a major success for the Sanaa Circle, the organization that was recently formed to support the National Museum of African Art. The Sanaa Circle is very appreciative of the support received from the Los Angeles business and arts communities.”

Guest Larry Frazier and host Barbara Johnson

Actress CCH Pounder said, “I thought the evening had a great home spun feeling to it. The reception held at M Hanks gallery included the encouraging words of Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, who looks to include the west coast as part of the family of art lovers and art supporters that could take the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art into the 21st century with an amazing and expanding collection of traditional and contemporary art from Africa.”

Dr. Cole and Eric Hanks, owner of M. Hanks Gallery in Santa Monica

About the National Museum of African Art and the Sanaa Circle
The National Museum of African Art is America’s premier museum dedicated to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of traditional and contemporary African art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Dec. 25. Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Avenue S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue and Orange lines in Washington, DC.

The Sanaa Circle started in 2009 and exists to support and enhance the learning and outreach programs offered to the community by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art (NMAFA) and to provide financial support to further the mission of the museum.

On November 18, 2010, the Museum will host a fundraising event co-sponsored by the Sanaa Circle in Washington DC. The event will celebrate the museum’s newest exhibition, “African Mosaics: Celebrating a Decade of Collecting,” the unveiling of Ousmane Sows’ Toussaint Louverture, and acknowledge the leadership of Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole. More Sanaa Circle events are planned for 2011.

For more information, call (202) 633-4600 or visit the museum’s website at http://www.africa.si.edu/.

Photo credit: Reed Hutchinson,PhotoGraphics/calfoto@mac.com

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