Portrait of Nina Simone. Photo courtesy Nina Simone Project.
Portrait of Nina Simone. Photo courtesy Nina Simone Project.

Adam Pendleton and Venus Williams to Co-Host Landmark Gala at Pace and Curate Online Auction to Benefit Historic Restoration of Nina Simone’s Childhood Home

On May 20, 2023, Pace Gallery will host a major benefit gala in support of the Nina Simone Childhood Home preservation project spearheaded by the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at its New York flagship (540 W 25th Street). Through this project, the Action Fund aims to restore the birthplace of musical icon and civil rights activist Nina Simone in Tryon, North Carolina, which was jointly purchased by the artists Adam Pendleton, Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson, and Julie Mehretu in 2017 in order to safeguard the legacy of the home.

Nina Simone Childhood Home. Photo by Nancy Pierce/National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Nina Simone Childhood Home. Photo by Nancy Pierce/National Trust for Historic Preservation.

benefit auction will be conducted online by Sotheby’sleading up to and following the gala, with key lots highlighted by Sotheby’s auctioneer Kimberly Pirtle during the in-person event at Pace. The marquee artworks in the sale, organized in partnership with the Action Fund, are co-curated by Pendleton and the tennis champion, entrepreneur, and arts patron Venus Williams. The hybrid event is co-presented by the Action Fund, Pace Gallery, and Pendleton alongside Gallagher, Johnson, and Mehretu. In support of this watershed initiative, many of the participating artists will attend the in-person, ticketed gala at Pace’s New York flagship on the evening of May 20.

Alongside artworks by Pendleton, Gallagher, Johnson, and Mehretu, the auction will feature work by Mary Weatherford, Stanley Whitney, Robert Longo, Cecily Brown, and other leading contemporary artists yet to be announced, in honor and recognition of Simone’s monumental contributions to the arts and social activism. Online bidding in the auction will be available to the public at 11 AM EDT beginning Friday, May 12 and closing Monday, May 22 at 3 PM EDT. All the artworks in the auction will be available to view in person—in addition to online—at Pace’s West 25th Street gallery in New York throughout the course of the sale, from May 12–20, as part of the gallery’s spring program

This multifaceted project highlights the vital work of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, established by the National Trust in 2017. The Action Fund’s mission is to make a lasting impact on American history by preserving sites of African American activism, achievement, and resilience. It is the largest ever preservation effort dedicated to African American historic sites. Born Eunice Waymon in Tryon in 1933, Simone nurtured an early love of music in her childhood home, a clapboard, three-room structure just 650 square feet in size. The National Trust designated it a national treasure in 2018, and the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is working with the four artists who purchased the home—along with the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund, and North Carolina African American Heritage Commission—to fully rehabilitate and activate the house as a means of sustaining the musician’s legacy in perpetuity.

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