Ben Wigfall (1930-2017) was one of the giants of the art world. A brilliant printmaker and painter, a revered professor at SUNY New Paltz, he is best remembered in Kingston for his Communications Village and his Watermark/Cargo Gallery. Both of these have had a profound effect on the shaping of the Kingston Midtown Arts District (MAD).
During the Watermark/Cargo’s 20-year existence, Ben showed that a level of art comparable with any gallery in New York City could exist and thrive in Kingston.
Through his Communications Village, Ben demonstrated that art was not just something that belongs in an institution. He believed that art belongs, first and foremost, in the community as a tool to bring people together and enrich their lives. MAD’s Ben Wigfall Project, an umbrella for uniting the communities of Kingston through the arts, is dedicated to that spirit.
On Saturday, February 24, from 7-11 p.m., Harambee (“The Coming Together of People”) presents the first “Black History Month (BHM) Kingston Gala” at The Arts Society of Kingston, 97 Broadway. This celebration will honor the influential and beloved artist with the presentation of its first annual “Ben Wigfall Legacy Award for Outstanding and Distinguished Contribution to the Community”. Tay Fisher, a Kingston High School graduate who became a member of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters, will receive the award in recognition of his many positive contributions to his hometown. The Wigfall family will also be presented with this inaugural award on behalf of the Kingston community.
Mr. Wigfall’s rarely seen prints and paintings, along with selections from his collection of African art, will be on display. The BHM Kingston Gala will include a buffet dinner, beverages and live music by the band Room Service. Tickets are $50 and proceeds will help fund the upcoming African American Cultural Festival 2019 and will support the AJ Williams-Myers African Roots Library.
Ben with kids from Communications Village
Left to right: Teresa Thomas-Washington, Raymond Gaye, Ben Wigfall, Robert Easter, Donnie Timbrouck, Dina Washington, Larry Carpenter
Photo date: Circa 1975