Adam Pendleton helps save Nina Simone’s home
The contemporary artist has helped preserve the singer’s childhood home
Adam Pendleton might be a young contemporary artist, but he cares about the past. As the curator and writer Adrienne Edwards puts it in our new Contemporary Artist Series book, “Pendleton’s art is an acknowledgement of and a response to history, understood as a series of patterns and structures through which it manifests and makes itself known. His work can be seen as a form of semiotics that takes the personal, the affective, the historical and the quotidian as raw material in the composing of poetic, abstract and often constrained forms.”
Some of that raw material finds its way into Pendleton’s engaging (and occasionally confounding) paintings, sculptures, videos and performances. However, the artist has also been successful in preserving one crucial piece of African-American history.
Back in 2017 Pendleton, alongside fellow artists Rashid Johnson, Ellen Gallagher and Julie Mehretu, pooled their resources to buy the childhood home of the brilliant singer-songwriter Nina Simone, in Tryon, North Carolina. As Pendleton told the New York Times, “It took me about five seconds to know what I wanted to do.” The quartet paid $95,000 for the three-room, 660-square foot clapboard house where Simone (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon) was raised, after an earlier rescue attempt failed and the building was in danger of falling into disrepair.
Over the past three years Pendleton and his fellow conservators have been campaigning to ensure the house remains in place, in perpetuity. Yesterday, they achieved part of that goal, winning a preservation easement, protecting the home indefinitely, no matter who owns the building, ensuring its historic character and preventing its demolition.
“Today, Nina Simone’s legacy is as important as ever. This preservation easement is another step towards ensuring that her childhood home, and the history it embodies, persists long into the future,” said Adam Pendleton. “We’re delighted to be working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation North Carolina alongside many other partners to make this continuous stewardship a reality.”
To understand Pendleton’s rigorous take on cultural history, order a copy of our new Contemporary Artist Series book on him here; and to see more houses that belong, or once belonged to some of the world’s great artistic talents, order a copy of Life Meets Art, here.