15 years of turning lives into masterpieces
By Vanessa Small,
The dramatic abstract image seemingly popped off the canvas: A splash of blue paint, representing a body of water, cascading from the chest of a young boy in silhouette.
“The River Flows Through Me” was one of the many art works by young men from Southeast Washington on display at a gala to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the nonprofit Life Pieces to Masterpieces.
In an attempt to curb soaring high school dropout rates, substance abuse and other challenges in Ward 7, the organization encourages young African American males to express themselves through art.
Nearly 200 businesspeople, donors and supporters gathered at the gala at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Northwest D.C.
After chatting over a buffet of salmon and pasta and listening to live music, guests watched a dozen boys perform an original hip hop song that honored Life Pieces to Masterpieces and its founders.
Actor Wendell Pierce of The Wire, hosted a program that awarded three longtime donors of Life Pieces: WRC anchor Jim Vance; William C. Pitts, the nonprofit’s director of operations and programs; and Hogan Lovells partner Howard J. Rosenstock.
The White House surprised guests when Joshua DuBois, head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, extended greetings.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have contributed to the organization.
Through donations and a Life Pieces art auction, the nonprofit raised $50,000 that will support general operating costs.
As many nonprofits are scaling back on costly major events, Life Pieces’ management said they believed the event — its first gala — was an important launching pad for future partnerships.
“We’ve gone through so much in 15 years,” said Mary Brown, the organization’s executive director and co-founder. “And with the growth of the organization, our vision became crystal clear for us to communicate.” Part of that vision includes corporate partners hosting Life Pieces art exhibitions.
She said the organization won’t have an event of this scale for another five years.