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Announcing the Second Crusade Stop!

New Orleans! Lady Blue will be pulling up in front of Dirty Coast's new store at 329 Julia Street during the Julia Street Art Walk on Saturday, December 1 from 6-9PM.

Dirty Coast specializes in spirited New Orleans t-shirts and original designs. We are thrilled they will be hosting us!

The event will be in conjunction with PhotoNOLA, a city-wide annual festival of photography.

A huge thank you to Dirty Coast for hosting us and to PPRPix for printing the photographs we will be giving away as part of the Local Photographer Showcase.



Bobble Sponsorship - Rock a Crusade Water Bobble!

I have long been a fan of the Bobble, and will be so bold as to call myself an early-adopter. I'm just cutting edge like that. What's a Bobble you say? Let me fill you in on the best thing to hit your cupboard in years.

Bobble is a simple and smart solution to hydration. It's a water bottle with a built-in filter. Fill it up, and the water gets filtered as you're drinking. So when you're out and about and still have seven more glasses of water to go before hitting your daily goal, you just fill it up again with any old water and know that it will be good and purified by the time it hits your lips.

Since Bobble is the coolest product around, they know cool when they see it. And so they have agreed to be a sponsor for the Crusade for Collecting tour.

Head on over to the Crusade store to get your very own Crusade Bobble ($10!), in Lady Blue color, of course!



Lady Blue Makes Her First Appearance!

The Crusade for Collecting is going on tour, pulling up Lady Blue (the 1977 VW Bus purchased through funds raised on Kickstarter), displaying photography from both local and national artists, and creating a spectacular scene. Photographs will not be for sale. Instead, people will be encouraged to choose a favorite photograph and engage in games and talks with the artists. Most people will be able to keep their favorite photograph and walk away collectors. Bam! Local photographers will have the opportunity to connect with future collectors in their own communities, and people will take a moment to think about the value and accessibility of art.

And the first stop? Atlanta, of course!

The first Crusade pop-up will be hosted by the High Museum of Art on November 23 (the day after Thanksgiving) from 1-4pm. Come see Lady Blue and some amazing photography. Get ready for hi-jinks and fun, meet photographers and walk away a collector (we are giving away over 100 signed, original photographs)!

A huge thank you to the High Museum for hosting us and to our local sponsors: Binders Art, Digital Picture and PPRPix.

The Crusade for Collecting Tour makes its first stop at Atlanta's High Museum of Art!



Local Photographer Showcase - Open Call for Work, No Fee!

And so we begin. . . The first Crusade pop-up will be on Friday, November 23 hosted by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. And then we'll be in New Orleans on Saturday, December 1 as part of PhotoNOLA. Woot!

The pop-up show will have two components – the exhibition of 12x18 photographs from the online project The Ten (original, signed photographs in an edition of 25 for $250 – and a series of 6x9 photographs from photographers based in the host city.

The Ten exhibition shows the work of emerging photographers with growing reputations and strong bodies of work. It gives an example of the affordability of an original work of art at a significant size and value. At least one featured photographer from The Ten will be at each pop-up event to talk directly to people about the photographs they make. Experiencing the passion of artists first-hand and engaging in conversation about the imagery gives an additional depth of connection to the art. A looping video of each Ten photographer’s explanation of their Ten collection will also aid in the understanding and appreciation of the photographs.

Images from The Ten exhibition will not be for sale. Instead, people will be encouraged to choose a favorite photograph and write a comment about it, create a haiku or perform a live rap – anything light and fun and unusual. The most heart-felt submissions will win their photograph and walk away collectors. Bam!

The local photographer showcase will be a curated selection of 6x9 images from artists within the host city community. These images will be available for any passerby to view and select to keep. The local photographers will also be present to have conversations about their photography and make connections to people who have just become collectors of their work.

Are you an Atlanta or New Orleans based photographer interested in being a part of the Crusade? Well then, send me an image. Click here for all of the submission details, but hurry on - deadline for submissions is October 20!



Update on the Tour

Every time I go out of town (Portland for a weekend, Santa Fe for a few days), people ask where the bus is and how the tour is going. Or I'll be out to dinner with my husband and the kids, and we'll run into someone who asks, "Hey! How did your big trip go?". Ok, clearly there is some confusion I need to clear up!

Last October I did a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to buy a bus, and the success of that campaign landed me Lady Blue. She is lovely, and a bit temperamental. She lives at the mechanic's, and I have all of my fingers and toes crossed that soon she will be road-worthy.

The original plan was to leave in March. But I'm itching for the road. Plus, I think Lady Blue may need a few regional trips under her belt before she tackles the open road. So we are scheduling New Orleans, Miami, Savannah and potentially a few others, starting in December.

And to clarify, WE WILL BE GIVING AWAY ORIGINAL, SIGNED PHOTOGRAPHS. That’s right. Not selling, giving. This is a non-profit, arts engagement project. We are building an audience for photography.

Lady Blue and I will be cruising up to the center of town, pitching our art tent of fabulousness (showing all photography from the online project, The Ten), giving away photography and creating collectors on the spot. High jinx, gorgeous images and loads of charm will turn even the most skeptical passerby into an art enthusiast (or at least make an impression and start a conversation).

So get excited. It's just around the corner. Crusade away!!!!!



Has Kickstarter Jumped the Shark?

Last fall I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to purchase Lady Blue, the 1977 VW bus I will be Crusading in around the country come March. At the time, most of my art friends had heard of Kickstarter and only a few non-art friends knew what it was. It still seemed fun and new and I had only known a couple of people who had launched a Kickstarter campaign. Now Kickstarter exhaustion seems to be setting in on everyone. If I can’t find $4 in my wallet to buy a latte, inevitably someone will suggest doing a Kickstarter for it. Hey, why not? Cash money!

I love the platform. I beyond love it. I think it’s genius. And it’s a wonderful opportunity for artists to build an audience and a funding source for their projects. My concern is that so many people are using it that potential backers are getting flooded with requests, which will ultimately cause people to write off projects before taking the time to learn about them. Too many too look at, too little money to go around.

On the other hand, when I did my Kickstarter campaign, I had a difficult time explaining to my non-art friends that yes, they were giving me money to buy a bus, and no, there were not any starving children or sick animals that would benefit from it. Now that the concept is more mainstream and people trust it, I think it is easier to fund a project, because the pool of potential supporters is deeper.

If you are going to go for it, go big or go home. Kickstarter is a one-time ask. You can’t put up a project, not have it fund or not have asked for enough money the first go-round, and then go back to your people and ask again. Well, you can, but you’ll look like an ass (unless I decide to do this, in which case I take it back. . .).

So if you are going for it, here are my tips to give you the best chance at a successful campaign:

1. Choose a goal amount that is enough to fund your project but not completely unrealistic, given your audience. This is tricky, I’ll admit, and you have to consider the fee percentage Kickstarter takes from your total.

2. Choose the shortest timeline to achieve your goal. People’s attention span is short, and most people wait until the end to contribute. Trust me, by day 4 you will be sick of hearing yourself talk/tweet/facebook/email about it. Push it hard and fast and then be done.

3. Rewards are huge. We want to support a good cause, but really, we all want something cool. Offer small rewards ($5 or $10) that get people invested in your idea. For example, I offered a $10 reward where backers could send in a sticker that would go on the bus.

4. Another note on rewards – make sure you aren’t offering too many rewards that will cost you money to produce and take away from your bottom line.

5. People like to support projects that seem popular and have momentum. It is really important to start out of the gate with a bang. Choose a handful (a large handful, ideally) of “ambassadors” – people you are close with and who you know will support you – and give them a heads up that you are about to launch the campaign. Ask them to please contribute within the first 24 hours and to help spread the word.

6. And then after the first 24 hours, keep the momentum going and the reminders coming by posting relevant updates to the project. Tell us about a new facet of the project that just came up, a new detail that was just nailed down, a bit of press that just came out about you or your project – something beyond, “Hey, remember me? I still need money. . .”.

7. Another great method to keep momentum going is to release limited edition backer rewards every 4-5 days. We had artists volunteer to donate pieces for us to offer at a great value, which was an opportunity to post an update to announce the new reward and create some urgency to contribute, since only a few of each were available.

8. Finally, talk about it (over social media, in emails, person to person) until you are blue in the face. Then talk about it some more. If every person you have ever met (virtually or otherwise) doesn’t know about it and isn’t sick of hearing about it, you are not promoting it enough.

So what do you think?  Tired party trick or genius platform?

Looking for help crowd-sourcing your project? Read more here.



Heart Art

Photography is the perfect medium to appeal to the would-be collector. It is contemporary and it is accessible (both in price and in technique). We understand photography. We know how it is done and we appreciate its fresh, modern, and visually stimulating takes on our world. We can look at an image and be amazed that someone was able to use a camera – a piece of equipment we all own and use – and create something that moves us so powerfully. Art. Heart art.

Because photography is so young in the spectrum of the arts, many legends are still alive. We are able to meet them, hear them lecture, attend exhibits of their work. And just below the “legend” level, there are many well-known fine art photographers who are interested in connecting with the people who collect their work. They are out in the world and easy to follow and communicate with. It’s like being able to email the lead singer of your favorite band – and have them write back and want to meet up for coffee.

Most photography is also affordable. A painting or sculpture by a mid-career artist would be significantly more expensive than a photograph by a photographer with the same level of recognition and exposure.

You can use the “good investment” angle to help you take the purchasing plunge, but at the end of the day, you should buy what you love. You should buy a photograph that makes you feel something. You don’t have to be able to identify that something or be able to discuss what appeals to you. You just have to love it.

Trust your gut. There are no wrong choices. And if you are working with a gallery with a strong reputation, you can’t go wrong.



Bus Bash

On Saturday we had the big reveal of Lady Blue at the Bus Bash event at WonderRoot. It was a mini trial-run of what the pop-up shows will be like on the road trip next year, as well as a fundraiser for the trip and for WonderRoot's artist exhibition fund. In case you missed it, here you have four hours of fun condensed into one minute of video.

Welcome the bus party in May



Life Is A Highway

and you'll see my bus sitting on the side of it. . . Today I picked up the bus. After the Test Drive of Terror, I was more than a little apprehensive to drive Lady Blue from the mechanic's place to the gallery. My husband brought me up there, but he had to follow me back in his car, and so the Lady and I were left alone to find our way with each other.

We started off tense and unsure, but pretty soon I realized she was a lover, not a fighter. We went through many stoplights together with nary a stall.

And then, we hit a snag. I was confidently accelerating on the highway, but Lady Blue was decelerating. Where did we go wrong? The closer I pushed the pedal to the floor, the slower she went. And then I pulled over, and we were done. Engine wouldn't turn over. A slap in the face.

I called the mechanic, and apparently when the gas gauge says half full, what it really means is empty. Luckily, a hero was on the way.

The Lady started right up, and I got off at the next exit to get to a gas station. The mechanic (let's call him Richard) followed me, which turned out to be a very good thing.

Yes, that's gas on the ground. Easy in, easy out. Apparentlly my "H.E.R.O." tore some rubber seal between the gas pipe and the side of the bus when he put the gas in. But Richard worked it out, and I was soon back on the road, alone with my Lady.

We arrived safely at the gallery, and I feel we are in a good place now. We've had some long talks, and I think we are going to be fine tomorrow at the Bus Bash. We are excited to move forward and forge a beautiful relationship together.

Driving the Lady home



Pitching the Art Tent

Since we are not art festival veterans and purchased our tent (without instructions) off Craigs List, Meghan and I thought it would be a good idea to give it a trial run before the Bus Bash Saturday morning. Generally I'm a pretty competent putter-togetherer of things, but I do tend to finish a project with at least one unused piece, resulting in a mostly functional but slightly shabbily constructed finished product. Eh, details. Here's a quick (very quick) video of the trial run - pitched up right in the gallery. And yes, there are a few unused parts. . . they're probably not important.



The License Plate Store

Lila (my 5 year old) was home from school today, taking an extra recovery day from a weekend bug, so she was my co-pilot for a most exciting adventure - registering the bus. Didn't want you to miss out on the DMV fun, but thought it wise to condense the experience into three minutes. . .

My daughter and I go to register the bus. Where? The license plate store.



Lady Blue Is On Her Way

Three weeks, many phone calls to different transport companies and some half-baked back-up plans later, the bus is on its way to the ATL! I got the call today from Lester, the Jamaican car transporter with an accent so strong I can only understand every fourth word, to say he had arranged the bus to be picked up this afternoon. At least, that's what I think he said. But then I got this photo from the man in New Jersey I bought the bus from, with this message: "antenna is inside bus for transport,chrome parts have wax applied for protection, spare keys in glove box. best of luck and thanks again!"  



Holy Smokes - I Bought a Bus!

And not just any bus, and beautiful blue crusademobile. It's amazing. Well, it looks amazing. It lives in New Jersey and will be delivered to Atlanta in a few weeks. Lady Blue will go straight to my mechanic's garage for some shoring up and tweaking, and then we will work on converting it from a surf ride to an art bus. This is so exciting. Thank you so much for your support and for allowing this most incredible first step to happen. Crusade away!!



Crusade Fans: The Research Begins

Today I met with Richard at R Lindwall International Automotive. I found Richard online a couple of months back when I was looking for VW experts in the Atlanta area. He helped me figure out a rough ballpark figure for what it would cost to buy a van and outfit it for the Crusade. I knew he was my man when he didn't even blink when I said, "I own an art gallery and know nothing about cars. I want to buy an old VW van, build shelves inside for art, and drive around the country on a 10-week tour." I think Richards are hard to come by. He called me last week to say he had an old bus in his shop that he is fixing up for a customer and if I wanted, I should come by to look inside and get an idea for size. I would have driven away in this one today if I could. Such a beauty.




This has been the most exciting adventure, and thanks to all of you, it is only just beginning. I cannot thank you enough for your encouragement, support and pledges. Truly - it means the world. Crusade away!!



Time to Pledge!

I cannot thank you enough for all of your encouraging words, supportive emails and generous pledges. It's the home stretch. The Kickstarter campaign ends in just 7 days, so if you have not yet pledged, please help me reach my goal to bring art to the people.

It's about art and artists and love and you.



The Crusade Continues. . . 100 Backer

Thank you, 100 totally awesome, enlightened, inspired backers. You know what's up. As for the rest of you. . . well, there's still time. 35 days to be exact.

As a special "35 days left, 100 backers strong" tribute, we are offering a new backer reward. Lori Vrba, photographer extraordinaire and co-pilot on the first leg of the tour, has donated five 8x8 signed silver gelatin prints of her image "Rebecca's Palm" to the cause. If you are one of the first five people to pledge $200, you will receive this stunning photograph. Get on it people.

And just so you know, if you have already pledged, you are not out in the cold on this one. Let's say you pledged $10 (thank you! send me a sticker!) and are thinking, "If only I hadn't already pledged! I'd love that Lori Vrba photograph!", you are in luck! You can increase your pledge amount at any time. (Phew! Big sigh of relief.)

Seriously - this has been an incredible journey so far. The outpouring of encouragement and support has been truly heart-warming.

I feel so passionately about this. Connecting to art has been one of the most gratifiying experiences of my life. I don't have a formal art education, and to be honest, the term "collector" feels a little strange to me too. But I buy art. Right now I am sitting in my living room, and I see beautiful things. Photographs and paintings that make me feel something. Some are by artists who have made a name for themselves, and some are by artists whose name I can't even remember, but they are all amazing to me.

I want this for everyone - everyone who pays attention to and cares about the things, large and small, that make up their world.

Be original. Buy original. Heart art.



Crusade for Collecting

Culturally, we are in our prime. We have sophisticated tastes and crave unique experiences. We are on-trend, we are curious, we are seekers. And yet, we don’t buy art. We don’t patronize galleries and museums, and we don’t support artists. Abstractly, we think art is interesting and to be valued, but we are not collectors.

I am on a crusade for collecting. For cultivating a new crop of art collectors. For making collecting cool.

Because it is cool. Falling in love with an original piece of art and buying it. That is collecting. It doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars or even make a huge dent in your paycheck. It’s about the connection. It’s about looking at something and having an emotional response. Feeling something. And then purchasing that piece and hanging it on your wall and living with it. Your home becomes personal. Your walls start to describe you, and everywhere you look you see something you love.

That is collecting. And that is beyond cool.