For more than 50 years, Men’s Arts Council has served as a volunteer organization and a fundraising group for Phoenix Art Museum. This month, the nonprofit hosts Lost Negatives of Rock & Roll Legends, a curated exhibition of rare photos of iconic artists from the 1960s. Joel Coen, vice president of Men’s Arts Council, discusses the new exhibition, the history of the organization and how readers can support the council and its mission.
What prompted the start of the nonprofit? We were originally an organization that provided volunteer manpower for the museum. The museum was expanding its hours and needed additional assistance for security in the late 70’s with the caveat that any organization that assisted needed to be an independent group. That’s when we formed our nonprofit status and became the group that we are today. We have helped the museum now for more than 50 years as both a volunteer organization and a fundraising group.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with the council? I recently walked through the museum with my family, and it is amazing to see the impact we have made throughout the years. Everywhere you look, you can find placards with our name on them. Additionally, an entire section of the museum is dedicated to our organization. Our decades of support have offered the people of Phoenix access to artwork that may have never been seen otherwise within the city. The legacy that we have created for the Men’s Arts Council through our partnership with the museum and the impact we have had on the Phoenix arts scene through several decades is something that we look back on with great reverence and pride.
What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? The pandemic offered us many unique challenges but at the same time, many opportunities. Our main challenge is to do whatever we can to work with the museum to make sure they have the support they need to offer the public the best art experience possible. Phoenix has yet to supplant itself as an art center on the scale of New York or Los Angeles, but our goal is to work with the museum to help the Phoenix art scene keep on growing.
Tell us about Lost Negatives of Rock & Roll Legends. Lost Negatives of Rock & Roll Legends is a curated exhibition of rare photos of iconic artists from the 1960s, including Janis Joplin, Rolling Stones, The Band, Kris Kristofferson, James Cotton, Butterfield Blues Band, Todd Rundgren and more. During the 1960s and 70s, business manager and music producer Michael Friedman formed close personal relationships while working and traveling with the artists. Living in New York and Woodstock, he was also an avid photographer and his favorite subjects were his artist friends and their performances. Friedman shot more than 2,000 photographs before misplacing the negatives nearly 50 years ago. Considered lost and nearly forgotten, his wife Donna Vita discovered them in a box of old music business papers in their attic. Together they’ve restored the negatives. Following a successful year-long exhibit at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a newly curated and expanded collection of 80 restored images, many new and never seen before, will be on display, free to the public and available for purchase to benefit the Phoenix Art Museum. The photos have been described as a 1960’s Rock and Roll time capsule. The exhibition and sale will take place at the FOUND:RE Hotel in Phoenix, starting Friday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m., with a preview ticketed reception ($125 per person), artist’s gallery talk and conversation; thereafter, it will be free and open to the public on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What are your goals for the remainder of the year? Coming out of a time of COVID, we are really looking forward to getting our group back together again. We missed interfacing with our members and those that we serve through our events and getting back into the swing of things is one of our main goals.
How can readers help? Become a member of the Phoenix Art Museum. If you haven’t been to it recently, it has really changed quite a bit and the artwork on display is truly intriguing. The museum depends on members and the value for a family to be able to keep going back to explore all they have to offer is fantastic.