Six Westchester residents took home blue ribbons at the 64th Annual Beaux Arts Finale in Bronxville on Sunday, at an event attended by well over 100 people and hosted by the Bronxville Women’s Club (BWC).
The contest also served as a fundraiser organized by the BWC, pooling together $1,000 in scholarship money to be granted to a female student from Westchester Community College based on need and achievement.
Artists and art enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds were treated to sandwiches, punch and pastries at Sunday’s award reception, as well as a live cellist playing such fan favorites as the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings’ theme songs. The venue of the event itself also went a long way in setting a great atmosphere for the show, as paintings and sculptures were displayed in the BWC clubhouse, designed by renowned Bronxville architect Penrose Stout in the 1920s.
“I think the event went very well,” said Joyce Balint, the Finale’s chairperson. “The BWC is fortunate to have such a great space for art exhibits.”
For Bronxville resident Brian Cushin, whose wife Susan won a third-place prize for her watercolor “Man on Stoop,” the Beaux Arts Finale was the perfect opportunity to escape recent record high temperatures and come together with friends and fellow artists over a shared passion.
“This is a nice break on a Sunday afternoon,” Cushin said. “There’s some terrific work here.”
Artists on display at Sunday’s event ranged in experience from amateurs like Cushin – a radiologist who has been painting since college – to full-time artists like James Barkley, who received six prizes, including three blue ribbons.
“All I want to do is have people see my work and really enjoy it,” said Barkley, who at age of 12 was already drawing for Walt Disney. “The medals are just icing on top of the cake."
Professional artists also served as judges at the event, including Bronxville Women’s Club member Jackie Kingon, who was one of three evaluators given what she called the “extremely difficult” task of picking Sunday’s winners.
As of Sunday night, none of the pieces featured in the Arts Finale – many of which are up for sale and range from $160 to $7,500 – had sold, although Balint noted that a few of them were currently being considered for purchase.
If any do in fact sell, 20 percent of their sale price will go to the BWC’s scholarship fund, along with any money raised through donations and artists entry fees.
Sunday’s event is one of many fundraisers organized through the Westchester County Federation of Women’s Clubs, which serves as an umbrella group for over three thousand individual members and according to Federation representative for Eastchester Ela Hathaway funds some of the oldest scholarships in the country.
The majority of the clubs in the 90-year-old Federation were originally founded as suffragist groups advocating for the passage of the 19th Amendment, and were later refocused after women won the right to promote the education of women, cultural events, and what Vice President of Communications for the BWC Mary Westmoreland called “a continuing responsibility for philanthropic commitments.”
Hathaway, 94, said the clubs have come a long way since the days of the women’s rights movement, and still today continue to redefine what it means to be a woman in society.
“I remember when women were not given a chance as they are now,” said Hathaway, who covered the White House and post-World War II Japan as a journalist for the Washington Times-Herald. “I appreciate what we’re trying to do, which is not just being the woman behind the man but contributing to our society, to our culture.”
In addition to funding scholarships for local students, the Women’s Clubs are involved in a variety of other local programs and benefit events, including fundraiser dinners for the local ambulance corps and food banks, quilting and etiquette classes, and trips into Manhattan for museum visits and concerts.
“Each Club is involved within their own community,” said Anita Taddeo, president of the Federation. “They serve a tremendous purpose.”
First-place winners at Sunday’s 64th Annual Beaux Arts Finale included James Barkley for graphics, water color and mixed media; Patt Baldino for oil/acrylic; Nancy Cheadle for portraits; Lucretia O’Connor for photography; Jerry Leventhal for pastel and Joan Lengel for sculpture. Bronxville's own Jay Wilson took home third place in the photography division for his "Water Towers," which took first place in the BWC's April Beaux Arts Competition.
The show will be on display at the BWC until Wednesday of this week.