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Fleisher Art Memorial Celebrates 20th Anniversary Founder's Award Gala By Honoring Three Philadelphia-Based Artists

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Fleisher Art Memorial's Board of Directors and the Founder's Honorary Committee Co-Chairs, Governor Edward G. Rendell and Mayor Michael Nutter, are pleased to announce that Fleisher's 2009 Founder's Award will be presented to Louis Massiah, Executive Director of Scribe Video Center; Pepón Osorio, Professor, Tyler School of Art, Temple University; and Lily Yeh, Founding Director of Barefoot Artists, Inc. The award will be presented at the 20th Anniversary Founder's Award Gala on Saturday, May 9th at Fleisher, a community art center in Philadelphia.

All three of this year's honorees are extraordinary artists who have made tremendous contributions to the cultural vitality of Philadelphia, while earning acclaim throughout the world:

Louis Massiah is an independent documentary filmmaker whose films explore historical and political subjects. His award-winning works are frequently aired on public television and at film festivals internationally. He is the founder and executive director of the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, a media arts organization that provides low-cost workshops and equipment access to emerging video/filmmakers and community organizations.

Pepón Osorio, best known for large-scale installations, is influenced by his experience as a social worker and merges conceptual art and community dynamics. “My principal commitment as an artist is to return art to the community,” he says. His work has been exhibited in museums throughout the world and in storefronts, department stores and homes in many locations throughout the world. He teaches at Temple University's Tyler School of Art.

Lily Yeh's work has taken her to communities throughout the country and world. She was a professor of painting and art history at the University of the Arts from 1968-1998, and was founder and executive director of the Village of Arts and Humanities from 1968 to 2004. In 2004, Yeh left the Village to pursue her work internationally and founded a new nonprofit organization, Barefoot Artists, Inc., with the mission to bring the transformative power of art to impoverished communities in the world through participatory and multifaceted projects that foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development, and preserve indigenous art and culture.

Fleisher's Founder's Award is presented each year to individuals who are deeply committed to supporting arts and culture in the Philadelphia region. It is awarded in memory of Samuel S. Fleisher, a man devoted to creating accessible cultural opportunities for all people. His vision continues to thrive at the Fleisher Art Memorial.

“It is an extraordinary opportunity for Fleisher to be able to shine a spotlight on the work of these three Philadelphia artists,” says Matt Braun, Fleisher's Executive Director. “While each works in their distinct realms, they are connected by the strong community-centered motives of their work. Fleisher is a source of inspiration and creativity, and our mission is intimately tied to the passionate pursuits of Louis, Pepón, and Lily.”

The Founder's Award will be presented during a festive gathering on Saturday, May 9, 2009. The evening will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., and will proceed with a ceremony at 6:30 p.m. With over 200 guests expected to attend, the Founder's event promises to be a grand celebration of Fleisher's impact on the community and the significant contributions that Louis Massiah, Pepón Osorio, and Lily Yeh have made to Philadelphia's cultural life.

The excitement that the 20th anniversary celebration of the Founder's Award brings is reflected in two new components of the event this year. Fleisher is partnering with the Crafts Department of the University of the Arts, where students are creating original art objects that reflect the spirit of the Fleisher Art Memorial and the inspiring work of the 2009 honorees. Three of their works will be purchased by Fleisher to be presented as this year's awards, and the student artists will celebrate with us on May 9.

Sharon Church, a professor in the Crafts Department at University of the Arts says, “An important component of Crafts education at The University of the Arts is to engage our students with the broader cultural community of Philadelphia and the surrounding region. Fleisher has long played a vital role within that community, and creating these awards to three exceptional regional artists provides a perfect challenge for our students who must learn how to match their abilities with the needs and aspirations of our culture.”

The celebration continues in fall 2009, when each of the honorees will return to Fleisher to present their work to the public. An educational forum featuring Lily Yeh is scheduled for Friday, September 25; Louis Massiah for Friday, October 25; and Pepón Osorio for Friday, November 20.

Proceeds from the 20th Anniversary Founder's Award Gala will help support Fleisher's mission to make art accessible to all, regardless of economic means, background, or artistic experience.

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