The Honorees for BUILDING DIALOGUE, No Longer Empty’s third Annual Benefit.
Creating safe spaces for dialogue and creativity will be an important focus for NLE throughout 2017. BUILDING DIALOGUE, our third annual benefit celebrates this commitment and our mission to make art accessible for all audiences.
We are delighted to be honoring four New Yorkers whose work and passions champion activism through the promotion of dialogue and understanding across diverse communities in our country, and internationally.
Jack Shainman, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Jack Shainman co-founded the Jack Shainman Gallery with Claude Simard in 1984 in Washington, DC. Soon after, the gallery relocated to Manhattan, occupying a space in the East Village in 1986 before moving to SoHo, and then its current location in Chelsea in 1997. In 2013 the gallery added two additional exhibition spaces, one in Chelsea on 24th Street, and the other a 35,000 square foot former high school in Kinderhook, New York.
For over thirty years, the mission of the gallery has been to champion artists from around the world and across a diversity of media. A particular focus is on artwork that is conceptually rigorous and often politically challenging while still remaining aesthetically engaging.
Gallery artists are included in numerous public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the British Museum, London; and the Museum of Modern Art, Vienna.
Hank Willis Thomas, Artist-at-Large

Hank Willis Thomas is a photo-conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, race, history and popular culture. With a combination of characteristic pointedness and dark humor, much of his  work reveals the ways in which corporate culture is complicit in the crisis of black male identity while he skewers advertising and media representations of African – Americans.  

Collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males and In Search Of The Truth, Cause Collective. In 2015 Willis Thomas co-founded For Freedoms, the first artist run super PAC.
Willis Thomas has exhibited throughout the U.S. and abroad including, The International Center of Photography, Public Art Fund, The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Cleveland Museum of Art and with No Longer Empty, among others. Willis Thomas is the first recipient of the Aperture West Book Prize for his monologue, Pitch Blackness (2008)  
Hank Willis Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City and Goodman Gallery in South Africa. 
Bill Aguado, Director of En Foco & Bronx cultural activist
Bill Aguado, former President and Executive Director of the Bronx Council on the Arts, is a cultural activist and arts consultant. Aquado recently came out of retirement to manage En Foco, the leading arts organization serving support to photographers of color. 
He is helping to preserve its permanent collection and mentor the next generation of organizational leadership.
Through his leadership at the Bronx Council on the Arts (1978 – 2011), Aguado dramatically increased funding to local artists and arts institutions, particularly those supporting artists of color. 
A life-long community activist, Aguado was a founding member of the New York City Latino Commission on AIDS and, appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo, he served as a Trustee of SUNY at Purchase and was instrumental in persuading the Board to vote for complete disinvestment from South Africa. 
Leesa Tabrizi, Teaching Artist and Program Coordinator, Hetrick-Martin Institute, Open Art Studio.
Leesa began working with the Hetrick Martin institute in 2014.  She runs the Open Art Studio, an arts and cultural program which provides a safe space for LGBTQ teens and young adults to create, engage with, and discuss the visual arts.

Tarbirizi is inspired by the stories of mixed heritage and varied personal identities so exemplified in the marginalized community of which she is a part. The program’s most rewarding moments include taking young people, often faced with homelessness and exclusion on a daily basis,  to cultural institutions that showcase QPOC (Queer People of Color ), exposing them to the possibilities and discourse of contemporary artwork.
BUILDING DIALOGUE will take place on Tuesday, March 21st at the Andrew Freedman Home – learn more about the benefit and purchase your tickets here.