Artist Adam Pendleton and tennis superstar Venus Williams are staging an art auction next month to raise funds to preserve the childhood home of Blues singer Nina Simone.
Nina Simone was born Eunice Waymon in a three-room clapboard property in Tryon, North Carolina, in 1933. It was there, amid the Great Depression and racist Jim Crow segregation, that she learned to play the piano and perform with the financial aid of Tryon’s African-American community.
Simone’s family home stood empty for a number of years and ultimately faced the wrecking ball before it was jointly purchased in 2017 by Pendleton, alongside fellow artists Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson and Julie Mehretul, for $95,000. The auction (which will take place online via Sotheby’s on 23 May in New York) will raise funds to safeguard the future of the landmark home as an African American historical site.
Williams and Pendleton are curating the show, which includes works by Stanley Whitney, Mary Weatherford, Robert Longo and Cecily Brown. The physical exhibition will be staged at Pace Gallery’s New York space from 12-20 May 2023, with online bidding opening via Sotheby’s at 11:00 EDT and closing at 15:00 EDT on 22 May 2023.
‘Each of the artists Adam and I have selected for the auction has a unique, powerful voice, and we’ve been moved by their generosity and enthusiasm for this important cause,’ says Williams. ‘It’s been a privilege to collaborate with Adam in curating the auction.’
The National Trust is working alongside the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund and North Carolina African American Heritage Commissioning to preserve and rehabilitate the structure for future generations. It is the largest-ever preservation effort dedicated to an African American historic site.