Venus Williams Co-Curates Auction to Benefit Nina Simone's Childhood Home

Venus Williams Co-Curates Auction to Benefit Nina Simone's Childhood Home

As we approach 20 years since Nina Simone's passing, Pace Gallery is hosting an auction and benefit gala co-curated by tennis legend and art collector Venus Williams and artist Adam Pendleton. The cause? To preserve Simone's childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina.

Pendleton purchased the quaint white home elevated with brick and surrounded by lush greenery along with fellow artists Ellen Gallagher, Rashid Johnson and Julie Mehretu. The house, which sold for $95,000 in 2017, was eventually designated as a "National Treasure" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Pendleton approached Pace, who represents him, with the opportunity to raise money to preserve the historic home.

“We jumped at the opportunity,” Pace CEO Marc Glimcher said in a statement. “In his paintings, drawings, and other works, Adam creates spaces of engagement, often using indexical or documentary processes, and this whole project speaks to the vast scope of that vision.”

Simone, born Eunice Waymon, was a multi-genre, multi-instrumentalist best known for her commanding voice. After recording a number of songs that directly spoke to her African-American heritage and racism, she became involved heavily in the civil rights movement despite the industry boycotting her. Her long-lasting influence both in music and in politics is still felt to this day as she is widely regarded as one of the best vocalists of all time.

The restoration project is spearheaded by The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, which aims to restore and preserve African American historic sites. Past restorations include the Harriet Tubman Home in New York and the Cleveland Public Theater in Ohio.

As for the art that will be up for auction, the home's initial buyers' work will be featured as well as works for sale by Mary Weatherford, Stanley Whitney, Robert Longo and Cecily Brown. Several of the works will be available to view at Pace Gallery.

“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,” Williams said in a statement. “It’s been a privilege to collaborate with Adam in curating the auction.”

The auction will run from May 12 to 22.

Photo courtesy of Darian DiCianno/BFA