Artist gives back to Harlem kids

June 19, 2008 6:41:01 AM PDT
He is known for his color paintings of athletes and sporting events. But now, Leroy Neiman will be known for something else, helping kids get involved in the arts. He's made a major financial contribution for children in Harlem.

Neiman has earned millions of dollars as an artist and over the years, and he has funded a number of art-related projects. But this latest effort is for young, budding artists who might not otherwise have a chance to take art classes.

The subjects of Neiman's art, including Mickey Mantle, Mohammed Ali, thoroughbreds, sports stars and other slices of life, are saturated with color and seems to levitate.

"You cannot accuse an artist like me of thinking," he said. "We feel, we respond, we give everything we've got, and that's all you have to do."

If only it were so easy. Well now, the New Yorker with his trademark moustache is hoping to make the making of art a little easier for kids in Harlem.

Neiman has funded a new center for Arts Horizons at a cost of $1 million.

"It's so wonderful, because what we've normally done is going out into the Tri-State region area schools for 30 years," said Joe Devol, of Arts Horizons. "But we've never had our own space."

It comes complete with classrooms and gallery space. The center is almost complete, and the kids are raring to go.

Neiman gets a real kick out of kids making art. And he believes they stand to reap great rewards.

"Whatever the artist puts into it the work, they get a full return," he said.

And when Leroy gets to work, there's a twinkle in his eye.

He doesn't actually call it work. It's just what he does. It's effortless, fluid and with plenty of passion.

"I don't live in memories," he said. "I think about what's next."

And Leroy hopes to teach a couple of classes at the new center that bears his namesake. The classes at the center take place in the afternoons and weekends, when kids aren't at school. Arts Horizons has served hundreds of thousands of kids since it started in 1978.

For more information about the Arts Horizons program, click here.


STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Lauren Glassberg