Arizona State University’s Project Humanities is presenting “An Evening with Riva Yares” April 24 as part of the Project Humanities spring kick-off series, “Heroes, Superheroes, and Superhumans.”
Neal Lester, director of Project Humanities, heard about Yares less than a year ago as a supporter of the arts. Born in Israel, Yares moved to the United States and became an active supporter of the arts. She is owner and operator of Riva Yares Galleries in Scottsdale.
“The more I got to know her, the more I recognized that her values are precisely what Project Humanities is trying to celebrate and that is getting people more excited about the value of arts and literature and history, and all those kinds of things,” Lester said.
Starting at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday’s event will consist of a reception with food and entertainment, the latter provided by Yares’ grandchildren’s band, TripleFirrre. There will be a screening of “Jolene.” The 2008 film is based on the short story by E.L. Doctorow. Yares owned the rights to the story and with little knowledge on how to make a movie, produced it and it became a critical success and helped launch the career of Jessica Chastain.
“This is not somebody who was not trained as a filmmaker, but who read a short story, liked it, and said, ‘I want to make this into a film,’” said Lester.
After the film, Jeffrey Ferns, director of business relations and communications for Gregangelo & Velocity Arts/Entertainment and Circus School of Arizona, will lead a conversation with Yares. Ferns is working with Project Humanities on another project, and became intrigued by this event.
“I was intrigued by the history of this gallery owner in Scottsdale, Arizona, who did all of this out of a gallery on Bishop Lane who really made influential ripples through the art market internationally,” Ferns said.
The evening will conclude at 8 p.m. with Yares signing copies of her memoir, “Sleeping with Dogs.”
Although this event is part of the “Heroes, Superheroes, Superhumans,” Project Humanities is not necessarily calling Yares a hero, but that she has heroic stories to tell.
“I think in the telling of this story, we can identify the heroic,” Lester said. “There’s a wonderful story in (the memoir) where she talks about rescuing her children from her ex-husband who had kidnapped them and taken them back to Israel. The way she tells that story embodies great courage, but also a kind of human element, where if your children are taken from you, how then do you get them back.”
For more information on Project Humanities and to find out about more events, visit humanities.asu.edu.
• Brittany Stehmer is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is interning this semester for the AFN.