Viewing entries tagged
Crusade for Art

1 Comment

Collector Scoop: Carl Bedell

Collector Scoop is a blog series of interviews and features on emerging and established art collectors. Today, we are excited to have a little chat with our very own board member Carl Bedell!

Carl has worked with various private museums and art institutions to develop young professional membership groups, including the Corcoran Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection. In 2015, Carl Co-Founded ACCADEMIA DC, a pending 501c3, that aims to build a new generation of benefactors for the arts by connecting emerging collectors with artists.

Can you share your background with us and how you got into collecting art? Do you remember the first piece of art that you bought?

My introduction to art came in 1992 when my family moved to Germany for a military assignment.  If my weekends were not spent playing sports or in school activities, my parents had my brothers and I in the car traveling to see the wonders of Europe - often times that meant world-class museums. With that background, my appreciation for art developed and continued until I began collecting.

 In 2008, my mother and I traveled to Philadelphia to visit the Barnes Foundation (just prior to its relocation). That weekend happened to be Philadelphia's First Friday when the commercial art galleries were open late and the trompe l’oiel painter Adam Vinson had a solo show that I stumbled across. Adam’s show was the first time I saw artwork in a commercial setting that immediately spoke to me.  I stayed in touch with Adam sporadically for the next five years until I decided to jump into collecting. His Card Sharks was the first piece of fine art that I acquired and remains one of my favorites.

The first photograph in my collection is by Binh Danh. Binh has several pieces in the National Gallery of Art’s permanent collection and was included in their 2015 exhibition The Memory of Time. This exhibition was especially interesting to me because it was entirely of contemporary photographers - many of whom were relatively young. I visited the exhibition and left with a list of artists’ names that I took home to research. Binh was in that list and after several emails (he may tell you it was many more than several) we met during his visit to DC and shortly thereafter I committed to purchasing his Bridalveil Falls daguerreotype.

What are your favorite resources for discovering new artists?

Discovering new artists is one of the most exciting aspects of collecting. Art shows, gallery visits and museums are obvious ways to identify new artists and I certainly have discovered many artists in that way – for example Adam Vinson and Binh Danh. But I also spend a significant amount of time researching artists online. Much of art in my collection is by artists that I have discovered in more proactive searches and then reached out to directly.

Facebook, Instagram and other online social media provides an incredible resource for identifying new artists.  Most artists now have some sort of online presence and the algorithms that the social media uses to “suggest” new content is pretty successful in identifying your preferences and suggesting new artists. I have discovered many artists this way, many of whom I have come to know personally and in some cases, acquired their works.  Heather Rooney is one such artist.  In 2013, Heather was producing photo-realistic portraits of World Cup stars and posting them online with a time-lapse video of the drawing. Her skill level is incredible – especially as a 22 year old self-taught artist. The video of Heather drawing the Winston Churchill portrait I purchased is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-dke8QaiJo.       

 Whenever I travel, I normally research and contact local artists and try to make a point to fit in at least one studio visit (in addition to the local museums and galleries). This adds a special memory to the trip and allows me to meet artists that are outside of the DC area. The first piece that came into my collection this way was a ceramic trompe l’oeil piece by Cathy Moberg, Good Fortune. Cathy works in Nashville and she allowed me to stop by her studio and see her works-in-progress. 

 Studio visits are important to me as a collector because it allows me to get to know the person and see the process that goes into creating the art. I normally come away from studio visits with a deeper understanding of what the artist was trying to convey and a greater appreciation for what the artist created. Some of my favorite studio visits have been to see the Baltimore based sculptor, Sebastian Martorana, the Washington DC based painter Trevor Young, and the New York based painter Tigran Tsitoghdzyan.

Do you have any advice for emerging or aspiring art collectors?

My advice to emerging or aspiring collectors is to jump in, collect what speaks to you and make it personal. For me, my collecting began with an appreciation for artistic craftsmanship. Adam Vinson’s trompe l’oeil works were so incredible to me that after five years, the memories of his first works I saw still stuck with me and led me to begin collecting.

My biggest regret in terms of collecting is that I did not start sooner. Before I began collecting, I believed that in order to acquire “good” art, I would have to spend a small fortune. The reality is that there is a lot of great art available at every price point.  Some of my favorite works in my collection were the least expensive.

My appreciation for the art in my collection is largely based on the stories behind the works. Nearly every piece of art in my collection has a personal story for me – a story about the art or about the artist. That personal connection makes the art more than an aesthetic addition to my home. It makes the collection a record of the stories and people in my life.

Artists Referenced:

Are you an emerging or established art collector and interested in being featured? Email Rachael at rachael@crusadeforart.org

1 Comment

Comment

Collector Scoop: Colony Little

Collector Scoop is a blog series of interviews and features on emerging and established art collectors. Today, we are happy to share a conversation with Colony Little of Culture Shock Art about how her collection got started.

Can you share your background with us and how you got into collecting art? Do you remember the first piece of art that you bought?

I created Culture Shock Art in 2010 as a passion project and a creative outlet from my career as an underwriter for an insurance company.  At the time I was drawn to street art I’d discover during my commute to downtown Los Angeles and I came across this incredible JR mural from his Wrinkles of the City series.  I had no idea who created the piece, so my quest to learn more about the artist/photographer led me to his TED Talk and I ended up writing about him on the blog.  JR’s career trajectory and the work he’s created to visually capture the stories of thousands of people around the world was fascinating to witness.  I ended up buying one of his early lithographs in 2011.  Since then I’ve collected art that is best described as eclectic.  My husband and I collect illustrations, graphic art, vinyl records (I love Blue Note covers), photography and low brow art. We have three pieces of art floating around here inspired by the show Arrested Development. I love them simply because they make me laugh!  

Image from personal collection of Colony Little (Left to Right) Graham Erwin,  I am a Monster!  2012 ; Ralph Ziman,  Mbara Bara , 2014

Image from personal collection of Colony Little
(Left to Right) Graham Erwin, I am a Monster! 2012 ; Ralph Ziman, Mbara Bara, 2014

How do you think that collecting contributes to the artistic community?

Patrons are the fuel that keep artistic communities running.  I’m inspired by creative collectives of artists, writers, designers, musicians and collectors that build synergies to support one another. During the past 5 years, L.A. has seen an artistic evolution taking place among creatives that drove the growth of the Arts District.  This in turn has resulted in a huge uptick in gallery openings there.  In my early years of writing and collecting I found the gallery system exclusive and limiting, but now those barriers to access are slowly disappearing as technology and media encourage galleries to create more open and (somewhat) democratic spaces for building communities.  Additionally, artist-run spaces are cultivating stronger bonds among artists, the community and future collectors. For example, I love what’s happening in Leimert Park--the Hammer Museum has partnered with artist Mark Bradford at Art + Practice and I’m also inspired by Michelle Papillion’s groundbreaking work at Papillion.   

Your career as an arts writer has allowed you the opportunity to discover many established and emerging artists. Has there been a situation where your career lead you to collecting art from a new artist or a similar experience?

When I worked in the insurance industry roughly 1/3 of the business my company produced came from high net worth individuals, and many of them were collectors of fine art.  This afforded me opportunities to interact with collectors, artists and galleries at fairs.  In the early years of Culture Shock Art I would use the blog to research and write about artists that I collected or wanted to collect.  Now that I’m writing exclusively, my wish list of art to collect has grown but my bank account hasn’t!  With that said, there is fantastic art that can be had at any price point. I’m amazed at the growth rate of art purchased on-line in the past few years.  Also, events like L.A.’s Incognito at the old Santa Monica Museum of Art (now known as the ICA and is moving downtown) are a good example of leveling the playing field between emerging and established collectors. 

Incognito was a fundraising event disguised as a fun artistic experiment--hundreds of works of art donated by emerging and well known artists were placed on display, each piece priced the same.  The catch was that the identity of the artist was hidden, so you could potentially walk away with an Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari or Catherine Opie if you were lucky.  At the end of the day there was no wrong choice because you were ideally basing your decision on instinct and love for the piece.  That’s how we came to own a work by Rena Small.  It is one of my favorite photographs because my husband chose it and he was not familiar with her work at all.  Years later we were at the Norton Simon museum and he came across one of her photos of Basquiatthat was part of her “Artists Hands” series in 1985.  Moments of serendipity lead us to beautiful discoveries!

Rena Small,  Untitled , 2012

Rena Small, Untitled, 2012

What are your favorite resources for discovering new artists?

Hands down Instagram! You can find me @cultureshockart

It has been an amazing platform to virtually interact with artists while getting a behind the scenes look into their lives and their process.  Many of the relationships I’ve cultivated through Instagram have turned into friendships and great collaborations.  Years later I'm still obsessed with Instagram because it is a convergence of all the things I love (art, coffee, handbags, records, photography and dogs). To satisfy my wanderlust, I’ll follow someone like photographer Rick Poon and for creative inspiration I love fashion designers like Duro Olowu and Reuben Reul.  Kim Drew @museummammy curates amazing work by black artists on her blog Black Contemporary Art.  My queen of kawai is Hana Kim @supahcute who introduced me to some amazing work by Martin Hsu (@martinhsuart) and for a shot of pure colorful joy, I love the photography of Kimberly Genevieve (@kimgenevieve).  Another great resource for collectors is One Art Nation.  They have a very informative video series on topics ranging from the art market to protecting your collection.  

Yoichi Kawamura,  Untitled , 2012

Yoichi Kawamura, Untitled, 2012

Do you have any advice for emerging or aspiring art collectors?

Collectors are largely driven by status, investment or love for the art.  Always stick with love and your instincts! One of the goals of my blog is to make art accessible for my readers because many close friends and family struggle with contemporary art and feel that it is intimidating.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Whether I’m in a museum, gallery, art fair or a studio I don’t try to make sense of everything I see.  I simply trust my gut and ask questions.  What are you drawn to?  What does the piece remind you of?  Does the work make you happy, sad, angry, confused? Allow yourself to go with those simple questions and keep asking why.  If I find myself thinking about a piece days after I’ve seen it, I know I am onto an artist or work that I want to learn about and explore more deeply.   

Learn more about Colony Little and Culture Shock Art
Are you an emerging or established art collector and interested in being featured? Email Rachael at rachael@crusadeforart.org

Comment

Comment

Behold: Ruben Natal-San Miguel

In collaboration with Slate's photo blog, Behold, we are extending the conversation with some of their featured photographers and curators.

Ruben Natal-San Miguel might be one of the hardest working people out there. The trained architect turned to photography after the September 11 attacks in New York City. “The world became more of the moment,” Natal-San Miguel said to Slate in a 2013 story. “Photography became a passion to collect as an art media and for me (a medium) to communicate all the activities, the costumes and traditions of everyday life.” Using mostly a bicycle to get around his beloved New York City, Natal-San Miguel’s photographs of the people he encounters are intimate, sometimes alluring, other times provocative, and always overflowing with emotion. He has also curated a number of shots including the current one on view at Station Independent Projects in New York titled “WE:AMEricans” that asks (and answers) the question: what does it mean to be an American? We caught up with Natal-San Miguel before he left for Boston and the Griffin Museum; he has work included in The Peter Urban Legacy Exhibition.

You will find some extra Q&A below and can read the original Slate interview here.

Ruben Natal-San Miguel,  AMEricano (selfie) , 2013, Rockaway, Queens. Image Source:  Slate

Ruben Natal-San Miguel, AMEricano (selfie), 2013, Rockaway, Queens. Image Source: Slate

You work as both a photographer and a curator. Talk a bit about wearing both hats.
 
It can be quite challenging. The amount of time that you spend curating takes away from working on your personal work, which, it is sort of taking off. It is a tough act to balance but, there is a great learning curve that can be applied to your own personal work while curating.

I am fortunate enough that every single curated show I have been the creative director of so, it gives me the freedom to create the concept theme, select the works, and create installations with it .
 
What do you feel are some of the major changes in the art world these days?
 
I think that artists need to be very careful in selecting from the opportunities listed out there. There are a ton of competitions, call for entries etc, etc out there now (which it is a positive thing) but, most of then have turn into fundraising events for institutions which are considered non-profit. Yet, the artists are subjected to spending tons of money just enter and and participate with no guarantees. I only charged $25.00 per five entry photos, kept the exhibition's print size small (so printing and framing will be affordable and more accessible) and even referred a very affordable master printer to keep costs down for artists. To print, frame and ship a print with return label (besides entry andorganization membership fees) can be extremely expensive for most artists. Something needs to be done about it.

The art dealers and galleries are at times more conservative and afraid to take chances on new work, so when I curate exhibitions, I try to bring and combine selected new work with more established big names. In doing this, the dialogue between both has a great learning curve and more impact. It also inspires and motivates newer talent to do their best to have great image quality on the wall. The established artists benefit also because they tend to resonate well with the press, fan following/audience, reviews and any type of show coverage. It is a Win -Win.
 
How would you like to change things in the art world?

It is very important to give a voice to new talent.
                                     Hope Will Never Be Silent.
                                                            -Harvey Milk
 
You are a prolific photographer. How has your work evolved over the years and where do you want to take it?
 
After more than a decade photographing the five Boroughs of NYC non-stop, I am approaching communities in nearby states to see how they mirror each other in terms of gentrification, street life, and sense of community.

The good news is that my work is reaching and getting museum attention. I am currently on display at the Alice Austen Museum on their First Triennial of Photography , The Griffin Museum of Photography, The African American Museum of Philadelphia ( 10/1/16-1/30/17)  and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I also just recently just taught a photo seminar based on the Rashaad Newsome exhibition at the Studio Museum of Harlem where the work was shot live and displayed.

Comment

Comment

While You Were Out: Keeping up with .LDOC

It's been an exciting summer so far for Crusade for Art with the unveiling of our newest Engagement Grant recipient and the recent success of former winners. We decided to check in with 2015 Crusade Engagement winners Danielle and Joseph Wilcox to get caught up with the current happenings of their program LDOC.

LDOC boc, Chicago, IL. Image Source:  LDOC Blog

LDOC boc, Chicago, IL. Image Source: LDOC Blog

Since its inception and winning of last year's Crusade for Art Engagement Grant, LDOC has received a variety of recognition in various forms, as well as flourished as a platform for artists and writers to publish work for an audience outside of their typical circles. We have printed and distributed ten issues featuring twenty different individuals who have also received opportunities as a result of LDOC, including representation contacts, additional features of their work, and collaboration opportunities. In addition to our print version of LDOC, we publish each issue on the Issuu website which has already received hundreds of views.
Image Source:  LDOC Facebook Page

Image Source: LDOC Facebook Page

Our main goal when starting LDOC was to get photography and writing into the hands of Chicagoans who might not typically encounter either on their daily commute. This we have overwhelmingly accomplished. With the help of our LDOC newspaper boxes, and the volunteership of our photographers and writers through person-to-person distribution, LDOC has made its way into new homes and unexpected hands.
It has been a rewarding experience seeing the excited faces of commuters who have become regular readers of LDOC and hearing stories of success from our contributors. We look forward to the continued collaboration with artists and the evolution of LDOC as a publication and organization, and we are grateful to Crusade for Art for their financial support and confidence in the project.

- Joseph and Danielle Wilcox

Learn more about LDOC at their website
Follow LDOC on Instagram
Follow LDOC on Twitter
Like LDOC on Facebook

 

Comment

Comment

Pittsburgh Baby Day: A Conversation with Matthew Conboy of Start with Art

Since receiving the 2014 Crusade for Art Engagement Grant, it would be safe to say that Matthew Conboy and his proposal Start with Art has been both successful and embraced by the city of Pittsburgh,PA. Just this week, the mayor of Pittsburgh declared July 5th the official Start with Art: Pittsburgh Baby Day. Upon hearing this exciting news, we decided to check in and have a small chat with Matthew about his present success and what the future has to hold.

What gave you the idea for the proclamation for the Start with Art: Pittsburgh Baby Day? Was extensive was this process?

I’ve had several friends who work with nonprofits or have done projects around the city be recognized with proclamations from the city. However, that wasn’t my original intention. I really just wanted to make sure that the Community Affairs representative for the city was aware of what I was working on. In addition, I was hoping that Mayor Bill Peduto could write a letter of support for Start with Art that I could then include in grant and funding applications.

As far as the process was concerned, I submitted a form online detailing Start with Art’s goals and accomplishments including the 5,000th baby who will receive a print this July.  Thankfully, I was not responsible for deciding where all of the “therefores” and “wherases.”

How has Start with Art grown since you received the Crusade for Art Engagement grant in 2014?

We’re in our second year and although we are still just working with the three original hospitals (UPMC Mercy, St. Clair, and The Midwife Center), I have helped enlarge the program behind the scenes. I now employ a poet to compose written descriptions of each month’s artwork. These descriptions are then posted online for the benefit of individuals with vision impairments. By the end of this summer, the descriptions will be recorded and audio files will be available on the Start with Art website. Second, and more importantly, I have increased the honorariums that each artist receives. As a practicing artist myself, I felt very strongly about compensating the artists for their time.

With the continual growing success of Start with Art, what are some long-term goals that you have for the future?

I have several long-term goals for Start with Art. First, I want to ensure that we have sufficient funds to allow for the continuation of the program. For 2016, I am paying for the program from my personal savings but that will not be a sustainable source of funding for the future. I have several foundations, which I will approach, and that work will keep me busy for the rest of the summer. In addition to grants, I am also looking at earned income from the sale of individual prints or portfolios on the website.

The other big, and very important, goal is to include the other two hospitals in the city that have maternity wards. Combined, these two hospitals would add 14,000 babies to the current number of 3,300. That is quite a dramatic jump, but it is manageable, particularly if I am able to treat this like a full-time job. It would also be made slightly easier by a recent gift from Epson’s Focused Giving Program of a new P800 printer. With features that are not on my current printer, the P800 would create savings for both paper and ink.

How do you think that art collecting (at such an early age!) has had a positive impact on the city of Pittsburgh?

I realize it is still too soon to tell what type of impact the art has had on these 5,000 children and their families, but I can tell you about how it’s had an impact on the artists. Every month, these artists find themselves with almost 275 new collectors. When you include the families, extended families, friends, and neighbors who could see this work, the number grows exponentially.

Just a couple of months ago, a mother who had a baby the previous year wrote to thank me for that gift and to let me know they were going to continue the tradition of buying art for the daughter for each of her birthdays. I let her know that the particular artist they collected (Kara Skylling) was actually having an opening that weekend. I also told her how much it would mean to Kara to hear what this gift meant to this family. Several days later, Kara wrote to tell me that not only did the family show up to her opening, they actually commissioned her to create a unique piece of art just for their daughter. Here was a family that may never have thought of collecting art, but by receiving one of 270 prints from Kara, they actually decided to invest in a local artist. Several other artists have written to tell me that friends of theirs have been gifted their print which goes to show how small the world can be sometimes.

Finally, my vision is to not only see Pittsburgh as a City of Champions, it’s to see it as a City of Culture. It really just comes down to reminding the residents of Pittsburgh of our wealth of museums, galleries, and art schools. Hopefully this gift of art will provide that spark to remind all of us to take time to recognize and appreciate the art that already surrounds us.

You can learn more about Start with Art by visiting their website here or you can follow them on Facebook!

 

Comment

Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: Libraries and Visual Literacy: Ryan Spencer Reed

Libraries and Visual Literacy is proposed by Ryan Spencer Reed

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I’ve followed the Crusade for Art project, the grants, and other programing with keen interest for several years now and believe I first learned of it through my good friend and colleague, Christopher Capozziello.  I appreciate and admire the elegant simplicity in the approaches taken by the founders in connecting with audiences.  I’ve found that, often, it is really about digging in and getting out there to connect with people and this seems to rest at the core ethos of Crusade for Art.  This is at the heart of my project proposal as well; I’ve completed a thoughtful body of work: (click here) with unique access to an interesting, important, and timely subject.  With that work, I’ve produced both a museum-grade exhibition and an approachable publication to introduce the work.  All that remains is to connect with an audience that will provide a sustainable base of support for the future.  A collaboration with Crusade for Art would afford me an opportunity to refine my approach while providing the means to put it to work.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

I’ve always sought to show my work with venues that could maximize the educational opportunities inherent in the subjects on which I’ve chosen to focus.  Recently, however, I had successes in applying my previous university symposium model to a few cities (non-academic communities).  Following the publication of my zines on my last completed project, the question of where to position them to reach the most people with the work in a meaningful way was born.  That question was answered for me this past year during a collaboration with the city of Waukegan, IL in which their public library served as the epicenter of a series of events around a unified theme and my work on the military became the cultural backdrop.  Since many communities have libraries that are looking for events to bring people through the door in the digital era, the concept of using my zines to catalyze the conversation about how their communities could utilize my work became apparent.  Whether through lectures, workshops, or exhibitions, I’m willing to apply a voracious work ethic to my projects and their distribution models.  Therefore, the tried and true ‘door-to-door salesperson’ model is absolutely within my reach and suits the necessity to make personal connections with people in various communities who can provide a bridge for the work to be showcased, engaged with, and collected.        

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

ArtPrize, coming up on its 7th year in Grand Rapids, MI, is a radically open arts competition where over $500,000 is awarded annually and where the public plays a large role in vote for the winners.  My last entry in 2014 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum was seen by over 200,000 people and I had the opportunity to sell hundreds of zines to new ‘collectors’ during the 19-day competition along with a number of prints.  In past years I was able to sell books and prints as well.  While photographic work of any kind does not perform well in the competition, is a unique opportunity to show to a massive audience and discover new collectors.  
 
From a strictly photographic event standpoint, for me it would have to be anytime I have seen a great body of work shown by professional museums or galleries.  Robert Frank’s Americans at the National Gallery of Art in D.C., the work of Lee Friedlander purchase by MOMA, Salgado's work on people who work with their hands, or Larry Towell's work on Mennonites.  I say this not only because of the respective bodies of work but for the time, process, and dedication to an idea that was followed by them to produce such a complete body of work on a subject for which they cared so much.  One also has to be aware of the sacrifices made to put such bodies of work together; the sheer depth of the work; the quiet nature of the work with little regard to the distribution while in the process of bringing it together.  Luc Delahaye's work on Russia depicted in Winterreise is another example which comes to mind.  

Distribution or recognition or remuneration was likely never the goal of any of these works.  It was the pursuit of the experience and the knowledge that propelled such work. Gilles Perez's work in Iran in 1979, Joseph Koudelka's work in Gypsies, Eugene Smith’s work from Minamata, Anthony Suau’s work in Beyond the Fall - all are works that were the result of a focused mind, great vision and clarity of voice in their production.  Well thought out and clearly executed work will never go out of style as these are the kinds of work that separate great and thoughtful photographers; applying their craft without regard for the marketplace.  Therefore the investment in time and resources to insure such a dignified viewing experience raises the stature of that kind of work.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

It’s my opinion that the greatest struggle for the artist is, as it’s always been, to find one’s own voice amidst the madness of the modernizing world.  Then, if an artist discovers their voice, to pursue it and maintain it today amidst the pressures of a society that seems barely to honor those who work with their hands.  The evidence comes in the form of the dwindling tradition of patronage which is also the great struggle of the art community.  The greatest weakness for the artist is discipline, to which the medium of photography is particularly susceptible due to its reliance on technology which continues to ‘improve’.  The art community is weak in its ability to offer the kind of support necessary to develop the voices of those emerging photographers who show promise and then sustain them.  The greatest opportunity for the photographer is to have a life full of incredible experiences and to meet incredible people along the way; for most to be forever changed by allowing curiosity to direct their path will be the only tangible reward they will ever receive.  The result of following that path is also the great opportunity for the art community.      

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

This begs the question as to whose job it was to "educate" in the first place and whose it is today. In my view (although we do it in one form or another all the time) it is not the job of the photographer to educate.  The production of great work requires focus and research in depth of the material being collected.  Rarely are we so fortunate to be presented an audience that views, understands, and is "educated" on a subject that we have spent great deal of time producing.  In it's purest form - the acceptance or rejection or education of (for the purpose of convincing) an audience is the last thing the creator of a body of work wants to be involved.  More often than not, the material was never made for the "audience", necessarily.  Some of the best work was made seemingly because of a desire on the part of the artist to experience the subject in depth or because he or she felt they had little choice but to the pursuit of the subject.  And while this intimacy causes a storyteller to wish for greater exposure for the communities covered, along with the issues those communities face, they are rarely the best suited to play that role.

Until recently, it has always been the role of the museum, magazine, or galley to bring the work to the public.  It was the reputation of those institutions over time with a "voice" of their own on the taste of an editor or curator that convinced and educated the public to the point of view of any particular artists' work being worth seeing.  Again we find ourselves faced with the question of what happened to them...Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post...where are they now in the mix?  In many but certainly not all occasions, gone is the back and forth and face to face conversations with those who contributed to the voice of an artist being developed because of an underlying talent that was recognized by an educated, experienced layer between the artist and the audience.  

So, is it really down to the fact that the artist is responsible for the concept of the material, the creation of the material, the production of the material, occasionally educating the curator or editor before taking on the role trying to educate the public too?  It may be a requirement in the digital age and perhaps there are legitimate opportunities to build a market online, but the photographer still needs to be afforded the space, time, and support to make thoughtful pictures; that’s a pretty tall order for most.  Learning my own limitations is why I’ve sought to collaborate with educational institutions such as schools, universities, and now libraries.  Working in concert with educational professionals to place my work into the context of their communities and their curriculum has helped people connect with my pictures in meaningful ways.  It’s also allowed me to replicate my own efforts for outreach.         


Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

I think that people find anything that they don't necessarily understand somewhat intimidating.  Photography has always been a technical medium from the devices to the chemistry of analogue processes, which has, until late, prevented it from being a universally shared experience the way that drawing and painting are.  Many children have the opportunity to draw and paint growing up, yet few become working artists as adults.  I would venture to say the majority of adults would likely come down of the side of admitting they couldn’t draw to save their lives, but yet this shared tactile childhood memory leaves a trace latent appreciation for art and design - forever a means to communicate universally, if only awkwardly, in the way that two foreigners might be forced to rely on body language for the first time to communicate.  As technology has lowered the bar to entry for the medium of photography, the medium is becoming increasingly democratized.

I, for one, believe the barriers to collecting photography are also lowered as a function of this process because a greater portion of humanity is creating, sharing, and consuming images more than ever.  This trend is growing exponentially and will for the foreseeable future.  This broader participation is likely yielding a broader literacy of the image and hopefully an appreciation for quality work.  I predict this will usher in an exponential growth in the collector base of the medium of photography as a much larger share of humanity becomes involved in the making of images, even if they are created and consumed on a mobile device.  I have this faith because I sense there exists some innate human yearning that drives us to fight back against entropy and the fleeting nature of our bodies and our lives; that of all living things; that this forces compels us to strive for permanence, which will lead to a vast expansion of the market for photographic books and prints is in our near future.

Like this idea? Vote here for your favorite and the winner receives $1,000!

Comment

Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: Operation Art: Connecting the Military Community

Operation Art: Connecting the Military Community is proposed by Stephanie Shively

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I first became aware of Crusade for Art through Society for Photographic Education. The website and past submissions motivated me to submit a proposal for the Crusade Engagement Grant. I was particularly inspired by the language - “…to create unique approachable programs that bring new audiences to photography and allow them to engage with art in a meaningful way.” As a military spouse of five years and an artist for most of my life, I have noticed the need and potential demand for art within the military community. Military installations, particularly army bases, are often located in remote areas where hubs of art and culture are not readily accessible. The military lifestyle can be isolating, frustrating, and stressful at times. I have found that creating and viewing art related to this experience can be therapeutic and cathartic.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

I developed the concept for Operation Art from the isolation I’ve experienced as both an army wife and an artist. I felt caught between two very different and disconnected worlds. My MFA thesis exhibition, All Requisite Parts, explored this experience and communicated my struggle to balance the roles and expectations of a mother, army wife, and artist. Through showing this work, I learned that even though military life is relatively unfamiliar to most people, it is not completely beyond comprehension. Universal feelings and sentiments connect us all, regardless of occupation or lifestyle. I hope that by bringing photographic art that explores the human condition onto military bases, a connection will be fostered between visual artists, the military community, and the general public.  

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

I think education about art is extremely important. Intention, detail, and the overall experience of art is lost in translation when solely viewed on a computer screen. It is our responsibility as artists to share our work and explain why and how we make it. We must bring our art and information about art to communities who would benefit from it. Whether it is a workshop or class, open studio event, panel discussion, lecture, anything, to engage the community, cultivate connections and spread awareness.  

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

Things that are unfamiliar are often intimidating. I think many people find art intimidating because it may not be readily accessible to them. Perhaps they feel ill-equipped to judge or understand something that is uncommon to them. I think transparency and education are key in lowering the perceptual barriers of art collection. Having a website, marketing oneself online, and exhibiting at galleries and traditional venues is great, but to broaden our audience and gain potential collectors we need to think past the norm. Art is still shrouded in mystery, especially for people who are very much removed from the art world. Programming in non traditional venues like schools, community centers, military bases, rehabilitation centers, etc. would deconstruct barriers. The programming, such as artist talks, panel discussions, and workshops could focus on development of ideas, the process of art making, and the role and responsibility of art/artists. These events could foster personal connection, enabling art collection to become more of a transaction and interaction between artist and audience rather than the exclusive, pressure filled environments of auctions or gallery openings. 

Like this idea? Vote here for your favorite and the winner receives $1,000!

Comment

Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: Nomadic Bookshelf

Nomadic Bookshelf is proposed by Caitie Moore

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

Nomadic Bookshelf was founded two years ago after a dinner conversation with Greer Muldowney and Paula Tognarelli. I had just stepped down from a role in a publishing companyand needed a new project. With the renewed interest and dialogue around the book, I started to wonder why we as a creative community weren’t also discussing the antiquated bookstore format. (Gotta have someplace to sell your books once you make em!) Nomadic Bookshelf is my response to the changing market. Rather than waiting for customers to come into a fixed location, Nomadic Bookshelf is more nimble and can seek out new customers. In general it’s challenging to sell artwork by an unknown artist to a new crowd. Knowing that it was easier to sell books in person, I chose to make the store nomadic. The thought was to bring books to new communities and encourage folks to interact and flip through them. I could then talk to my customers about the book, or artist, or process and project, and effectively sell more books simply by connecting my customers to the products. The shop instantly makes collectors out of folks who may have never considered collected art before.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

I’m a big fan of trading artwork. I went to an interesting exhibition earlier this year that was called Insider Trading. All of the artists were hand selected for this exhibition and commissioned to make one piece of artwork to donate to the show. At the end of the evening, all of the work was raffled to the other artists in the show — each artist came and left with a different piece of art work.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

The Internet

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

I think a lot of people do not have a literacy or extensive understanding of art or art history,  and the thought of feeling dumb in public is really intimidating. When I go to book fairs, I tend to watch the way that people interact with the books. Books are great, unlike a museum, they are not very judgmental. You can flip through a book and no one will judge you. Often at a museum there’s this unspoken understanding that you have some kind of understanding or background knowledge about the art to begin with. It’s a very intimidating thing. I try to explain my products to people in a very personal way. For me, there’s nothing more exciting than taking the time to talk to someone about one of our books, to later watch them come with friends, as new experts on the subject. Instilling that excitement about art and giving folks the tools to share with others is so incredibly satisfying.

Like this idea? Vote here for your favorite and the winner receives $1,000!

Comment

Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: New Orleans Experience: Pop-Up Photography Festival

New Orleans Experience: Pop-Up Photography Festival is Proposed by New Orleans Photo Alliance

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

Louisiana, and New Orleans specifically, has really mastered utilizing festivals and celebrations to showcase our art and culture. We draw hundreds of thousands of people to our celebrations and it is easy to forget that that mass of people is actually comprised of individuals seeking out a cultural interaction. We wanted to explore the intersection of the mass audience with an individual experience and the idea of a Pop-Up Studio in the middle of the action was born.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

Each December, the New Orleans Photo Alliance produces a festival of photography, PhotoNOLA. One of the highlights of the festival is the PhotoWALK. During this event, participants in PhotoNOLA’s portfolio review open their work for the general public to see, free of charge. Hundreds of people come from every corner of the community to interact with photographers and be inspired by the amazing. It’s a truly magical event and is eagerly anticipated by the local community.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

In any and every way possible! There are as many answers to this question as there are artists creating work. Use the resources that are available to you and just start communicating. Get together with other artists and pool your resources – create a community gallery space, partner with local nonprofits to display work in their project space, use social media, create events to attract local media coverage. Get on a platform and communicate why art is important in your life, what inspires you, and keep talking! We need to make a lot of noise, individually and together.

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

People like formulas and sure bets. Art doesn’t follow conventional rules so people don’t understand how to evaluate quality and are afraid to make a bad choice or bad investment. We need to reinforce the global concept that public art elevates the community and then on an individual level the idea that the art you collect is a joy and a gift to live with each and every day.

Like this idea? Vote here for your favorite and the winner receives $1,000!

Comment

Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: Elevazioni/Elevations

Elevazioni/Elevations is proposed by Francesco Amorosino

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

In Rome, many people live in condominiums and the elevator is sometimes the only place where neighbors can interact. In the entrance of my place there is a board where people can stick notes and invitations to events. Since the past months, someone transformed the little table in the hall where advertising materials are left in a book crossing spot. This led to the idea of providing people who take the elevator an occasion to encounter art in a non conventional place and an excuse to talk with neighbors about something different and happy.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

I’m not new on organizing engaging art events: I’ve curated for three years Photox1000, a collective photo exhibition of one thousand pictures coming from more than 500 photographers from all over the world. The visitors could adopt one picture and write to the photographer to tell him or her their thoughts. I’ve also been the coordinator for Rome of the IParkArt project, where we used to place art installations in regular parking slots after paying the ticket.  

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

For me teaching to adults and children is essential. I teach in some schools in Rome and I always emphasize in photography the technical aspect is just the start and it’s not the most important thing. I invite people to consider their art as a “medicine for the mind” or a tool to find inner balance and to sublimate their pain. If you manage to do so, other people will see it and get interested in art. Unfortunately, in Italy art is taught mainly with a focus on history and not as a platform for conceptual analysis. Working with communities on engagement projects is crucial in getting art closer to the public. That’s also why I really appreciate good street art.

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

For many people art is just about the authors they studied at school, such as Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci or Van Gogh and Picasso. What we have to make people understand is that art is now, it is everywhere, and everyone can do art. Whether it is "good art" or "bad art" it is something to discuss.  People say they don’t understand art, but art is not about understanding: it’s about emotions. People start collecting when they see that art is making their soul feel better. 

Like this idea? Vote here for your favorite and the winner receives $1,000!

Comment

Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: The Storyteller Series

The Storyteller Series is proposed by Judy Walgren, in collaboration with SF Camerawork

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I saw the Crusade for Art grant posted on Facebook, of all places, and thought - "What an amazing idea that is totally in line with what we are trying to do with ViewFind - get photographers' work out into the world in new and innovative ways to drive new streams of revenue for them as the traditional media budgets and outlets dry up." I liked the shorter entry requirements for the first round for the grant, as well. That made it much easier for me to apply.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

I have worked on and off for newspapers and print media for the past 30 years, which has been a wild ride. I was around for the heyday of newspaper making and traveled the world covering the most amazing stories one can imagine and I also worked for a newspaper, The Rocky Mountain News, that was shuttered by its parent company. I had a great time working as the Director of Photography at the San Francisco Chronicle, after I finished my MFA, I knew that it was time for me to embark on a new adventure and try and disrupt the downward spiral for work directed at documentary photography. That is why I joined ViewFind as the Editorial Director - a visual storytelling start up aimed at disrupting and enhancing monetization pathways for photographers who tell visual stories. When Glen Graves, the founder of PhotoArts Marin, approached me about his idea to start a visual storyteller series with Heather Snider, the executive director at SF Camerawork - it was a no-brainer for me. The goal is to support visual storytellers, get their work out in front of a broader audience such as collectors and editors, and give them a platform to talk about their work, their passions and their processes. I know from experience that audiences love to be connected to visual storytellers to hear about the why and how they do what they do and the also appreciate the chance to ask questions and engage with the photographers. We decided to have an up and coming photographer paired with a well-known photographer - to give exposure to those trying to break into the industry. For our first presentation - I invited Leah Millis, a young photographer who I have mentored for the past 6 years and hired at the Chronicle a year ago with my dear friend, Todd Heisler, a Pulitzer Prize winner and staff photographer at the New York Times. He agreed to do the talk for no honorarium, I used miles for his plane ticket and he stayed at my house. Leah lives here. I have a lot of friends who will do this for me - but am running out of miles. We are doing something similar for the second talk coming up May 24th. Artist Suné Woods is coming up from LA and Wesaam Al-badry is a student at SFAI and lives in San Francisco.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

I think the most interesting and engaging art collecting event I have been to is the SF Camerawork Benefit Auction - their largest fundraising event each year. They showcase a incredible selection of photographic artwork that is donated by local, national, and internationally renowned artists to be auctioned off to attendees. Collectors, members and supporters of SF Camerawork and the photography community come out of the woodwork to check out the extremely high quality prints and have a great time connecting with the community as they bid away.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

The greatest struggle facing artists today, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, is housing and studio space - both in terms of their own living situation and studio space as well as the ability for galleries and other outlets that monetize their work to also maintain a location in the city centers. It is a huge problem in San Francisco and Oakland and artists are being forced out in droves - draining the cities of the people who helped the Bay Area become a formidable International hub for creatives, the people who comprise the soul of these cities, to be honest.

The opportunities available are also amazing! There is literally no barrier to entry to have your artwork displayed and distributed to the public through social media and websites that are easily updated by the artist, herself! And as you know, humans have always been telling stories visually - think about the cave paintings. And now, more than ever, humans are engaging through visual imagery which is also increasing the visual literacy worldwide - to some degree. I would say that humans are becoming more and more aware when a GREAT image comes their way now as the 1000's of innocuous imagery passes by them unnoticed. I think people are appreciating great visual art now, more than ever, to be honest. Whether they are buying or not - that is another question...

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

This is a great question and really the reason why we started the Storyteller Series - artists - at least most artists - can speak passionately and articulately about their work, their research - about what drives them to create. And the audience - whether adults, teenagers or children - are most times overwhelmingly engaged in these discussions - whether in person, on webinar panels, on hangouts - wherever! I am giving a lunch-time gallery talk at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco on Friday - a 20-minute talk in front of a few photographs by Roman Vishniac. The response has been incredible and it is such a great idea - an easy way for the public to engage with art over a lunch break!

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

To be honest, the public today is not the same group of people from 50 years ago. The art, as well as the artists who create the work, is more diverse in concept and creation. The artists and their work are both more approachable and less reliant on the mystic of artistic genius to determine the worth of the work. More and more work is being created through social practice and inspired by the notion of changing bigoted perceptions, stereotypes and other discriminatory legacies. Subsequently, audiences are connecting through commonality of purpose, as well as aesthetic alliances and appreciation.

Ways to lower the barrier to entry for collecting work is through events like the SF Camerawork auction - both brick and mortar auctions and digitally produced auctions, through pop-up shows in non-traditional gallery settings, through First Friday events and Open Studio events in artist communities. Lowering the overhead costs can significantly lower the overall price of the work and the funds go directly to the artist, as well.

Comment

1 Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: The Art of Trade

The Art of Trade is proposed by Bruce McKaig

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I was inspired to propose building a barter network for the Crusade for Art grant because I see no shortage of artists, no shortage of people interested in having art, but bringing them together remains elusive. Art events can be so eclectic; it is almost comparing apples and oranges. Two commonalities across the board: artists are providing more work than artists are earning and people who want and could afford art are doing without.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

I have been privileged to work on numerous community art projects in the last fifteen years and working with communities my attention and my art came to focus on issues of work and living wages. As I learn about the fight for 15, or personally live the adjunct faculty challenge, I see artists, including myself, as an additional labor group that struggles to earn a livable wage.

With my background as a visual artist and my academic training in economics and international affairs, I advocate for more humanitarian working models for artists. I am a 2016 Fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies in their New Economy Maryland program. This institutional support provides intellectual resources and rich human contacts for the work. I am turning to the Crusade for Art grant for the necessary resources to build the first working model, in real time, with real participants, real art, direct exchange of goods and services. 

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

Starter Plus is an organization in Paris that opens theater seats to interested viewers in a very clever way. Starter Plus works with theaters to book seats for people for shows that are still running but not to full houses. The seats can be half-price, free, or for two. They mail out availabilities and people call them to book. They reserve with the theaters and people just need to show up. Theaters have increased presence for performances and people who would never have gone discover theater, performers, playwrights, spaces. Unlimited use, it costs about $140/year. Some single tickets cost more than that. People can be risk takers and discover new things without committing a few months spending money. It’s a win-win.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

The arts are not immune from the greater struggles facing our culture today: what ways will we define and measure work and compensation? Caretakers, educators and adjunct faculty, fast food workers, are just a few. We operate and analyze with tools developed at the great depression when industrialization was the prevailing dynamic. Now, we are waist deep in the information economy, and the industrial definitions and practices are not keeping pace.

This presents a great opportunity for the arts to take on a leadership role in an evolution that has begun and needs traction.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

I think this is a very personal thing. Some artists will be more revealing and discursive about their work, which is great. Others less so, and this is to be respected as well. The Internet provides plenty of opportunities to put out statements, images, videos, commentary. Whatever the format or vehicle, maybe the most helpful thing would be to avoid assuming ANYONE you interact with doesn’t want to engage with the arts. I’ve never landed in a community where I was expected to “bring in some art,” that wasn’t already celebrating the arts in many ways without anyone’s help.

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

History and culture currently have the artist niched in a very strange position. On the one hand, artist means transcendental, otherworldly, a portal to vision, enlightenment, problem solving skills – holier than everything else combined. On the other hand, elitism is dead so anyone can do it. Holier than thou means it’s priceless. Anyone can do it means it’s worthless.

I think the better we are at linking the labor of an artist to the general issue of labor, qualifications, and compensation, the more obvious and fluid the links will be between artist and viewer. The drives are there. The mechanisms are outmoded.

Like this idea? Vote here for your favorite and the winner receives $1,000!

1 Comment

Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: Increasing Exposure to Art Photography in the Bakken Region

Increasing Exposure to Art Photography in the Bakken Region is Proposed by Meghan Kirkwood

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I learned about the Crusade for Art grant last year from a colleague. I was intrigued by the concept and spent some time on the website looking at (and being inspired by) projects from previous finalists. The grant’s emphasis on reaching and connecting new audiences to photography is different than many public arts grants, which are often geared towards supporting known outreach strategies. The particular challenges to artists in the Crusade for Art grant were what inspired me to propose my project. In the Bakken region of western North Dakota there are numerous institutional and perceptual barriers that limit how audiences access and perceive visual arts, and new, creative strategies are needed to move beyond the limitations they impose.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

I came up with the idea for my project by thinking through challenges I have faced working in western North Dakota. The Bakken region is huge, and comprises many different communities, some of which have been in the area for centuries and others that only arrived after the most recent oil boom. As such, connecting with “local audiences” is not an easily defined endeavor, and I have been challenged to think about what it means to make work that is both relevant and accessible to a particularly diverse set of residents. I believe that photography can uniquely contribute to and inform ongoing reflections on natural resource extraction and its attendant impacts among the various communities in the region, but to do so, it needs to draw upon a non-traditional venues/distribution modes (especially in an area that has few to no galleries or arts institutions).

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

The “job” of the artist has changed so much in the past few years (artists must be excellent makers, designers, writers, marketers, and personal advocates), that I’m hesitant to offer suggestions on what role artists should play in educating the public about their art. That said, I do think artists have a responsibility to think about who their audience is when they design long-term projects. If artists (like so many of us do) want to take their work beyond the white cube, we need to do more than find a new, more public “cube” to show our work in after we’ve finished it. Rather, we need to develop new strategies to integrate art into the public sphere (where it can reach a completely different set of audiences), and these strategies need to be a part of our working process from the outset.

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

I think many people find art intimidating because they’ve had limited opportunities to interact with it.  If you’ve never had the chance to study art, work with an artist, or view art made from and about your community, how do you learn what art can do? How do you know that art can be relevant to you and your life? Moreover, I think many people associate art with a specific set of venues and events, which may be places or occasions that they do not themselves feel drawn to. To encourage more people to engage with photography, artists need to find different ways to meet audiences where they are at and – through their work – show them what art is capable of. We (photographers) were all lucky enough to have had some experience that created a desire in us to make and collect images; we need to think of ways to create such experiences for audiences who haven’t yet had the same opportunity.

Comment

Comment

2016 Grant Finalist Interview: The Curated Fridge

The Curated Fridge is proposed by Yorgos Efthymiadis

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

After returning from a portfolio review, I gathered all the promotional pieces from fellow photographers and arranged them on my fridge. I then posted some snapshots on social media and the response was enthusiastic. Some requested there be an opening reception to celebrate the works and the discovered space. Some sent magnets!

A couple of months down the road, The Curated Fridge was born and the first call for entry opened. Photographers from all over the world sent their prints and digital files. The guest curators (Refridgecurators) juried the work in my kitchen. A year later, the shows are running on a bimonthly basis. The accepted images are posted on social media and the dedicated website. This promotes the work of the photographers and creates connections and long-lasting friendships between the artists.

Since last December, the project has evolved. The Photographic Resource Center (PRC) in Boston invited The Curated Fridge to participate in one of their exhibitions. Three images of the fridge were mounted on the PRC’s gallery walls and a whole new idea was born. What if we could use The Curated Fridge shows as a starting point to break "gallery" limits, making photography more accessible for a wider audience?

The proposal is to print life-size photographs of The Curated Fridge show every two months. In collaboration with schools, colleges and universities, the prints are mounted on their walls. The aim being to reach out to a young crowd while educating them visually and introducing the world of fine art photography.

In addition, a contest will run, where students could write a short statement about their favorite featured photograph (e.g. why where they drawn to it, what do they like about it, what does it mean to them) and the winner from each school, selected by the guest curator, will win a small print of the photograph. Finally, students will be prompted to curate their own fridge at home, photograph it and email the files to The Curated Fridge, where they will be posted on the website and social media.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

Unfortunately, most people don't have the time to slow down and appreciate art. By bringing photography closer to audiences at a younger age, we can build a stronger connection between the younger generation and fine art photography. The Curated Fridge was born in a kitchen, then there were opening receptions (in the same kitchen!) and it even traveled to a gallery. It’s a quirky project, fun and cool, that never took itself too seriously. Because it’s unconventional and alternative, it connects easier with the audience.     

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

In my opinion, people find art intimidating because there are no boundaries or rules; anything can be art, good or bad. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be but the general audience needs to understand and appreciate this, through education. By doing so, all the barriers that one might have will be removed because when something speaks to the heart it's price doesn’t matter anymore. Art becomes priceless, therefore affordable to the right audience.  

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

It has to be the Instantly Yours exhibition at the PRC in Boston, where all the members brought their Polaroids or created some prints with the Impossible Project for the audience to collect. It was a very successful exhibition that ran through a whole month, with gallery talks about instant photography, events and lots of sales!

Like this idea? Vote here for your favorite and the winner receives $1,000!

Comment

Comment

Atlanta Gallery Owner Takes New Focus to Promote Photography

Atlanta Gallery Owner Takes New Focus to Promote Photography by Howard Pousner December 22, 2013

Jennifer Schwartz has shown herself to be an out-of-the-box thinker since opening her self-named gallery in 2009.

AJC
AJC

Then she literally got out of the box, closing her Westside space last year in favor of pop-up shows and, most ambitiously, undertaking a tour to 10 American cities in a VW bus-turned-gallery on wheels this spring. The idea of the Kickstarter-funded Crusade for Collecting Tour was to recruit a new generation of art collectors by taking the photography to them rather than waiting inside a bricks-and-mortar space hoping someone might visit.

Now Schwartz is on to a new photography crusade. She has announced that she is shutting down operations of the for-profit Jennifer Schwartz Gallery by the end of the year and launching a non-profit, Crusade for Art.

Its mission, according to a recent announcement: “to build artists’ capacity to create demand for their work.”

Schwartz said the Crusade for Art will take a two-pronged approach: mentoring photographers to achieve higher levels of creative and professional development; and “incubating” solutions to connect them with audiences.

Crusade for Art’s programs will include:

  • Crusade Engagement Grant, an annual $10,000 award that will be given to an individual artist or artist group with the most innovative plan for increasing his/their audience and collector support. Applications are to open in March.
  • A CSA (Crusade Supported Art program), modeled on agricultural CSAs and similar to WonderRoot’s successful art CSA program. Fifty “shareholders” will invest $350 each to commission six photographers to create an image in editions of 50. Shareholders will receive two original, signed photographs in the mail three times yearly.
  • Fee-base mentoring as well as six-month mentorship programs awarded to 10 photographers per year through a competitive application process.
  • Crusade chapters being established in cities including Chicago, Pittsburgh and Portland, Ore.

“I will still be doing my favorite things — working with photographers and developing programs to create demand for art — in this new venture,” Schwartz told the AJC, “but I will miss working one on one with new collectors.”

She expects individual donations to fuel the non-profit’s launch and plans to solicit corporate donations and grants. While she awaits official 501c(3) status declaration from the IRS, the crusade is able to accept donations through fiscal sponsor New York Foundation for the Arts. To find out more: www.crusadeforart.org.

Comment

Comment

Do We Need to Become Our Own Arts Advocates?

In a word, yes. Although I later learned this photo was misleading (apparently the sign was in the wrong spot), walking by this empty booth got me thinking about the importance of the mission of Crusade for Art.

We are at the precipice of a crisis in our art.  Prodigious effort is going into programs and initiatives that create supply – opportunities to educate artists and help them create and exhibit work – which is resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of fine art photographers and huge volumes of their art.  Little support focuses on creating a demand for this art.  Demand is not keeping up with supply, and if not corrected, will create a huge imbalance where there is an abundance of art but no audience for it.  Crusade for Art is dedicated to cultivating demand for art.

Artists are on the front lines and are best positioned to be change-makers.  Crusade for Art aims to educate, inspire, and support artists to create unique, approachable programs that bring new audiences to art and allow them to engage with art in a meaningful way. By inspiring, mentoring, teaching, and funding, Crusade for Art will empower artists to focus on creating demand for art and thereby encourage systemic changes to create a new crop of art lovers, patrons, and collectors.

Comment

Comment

Crusade Tour Featured on FStoppers

The awesome Joseph Gamble interviewed me for this article on FStoppers. Love the Joseph, love the FStoppers.A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartz’s Photo Road Tripby Joseph Gamble, published on FStoppers on September 3, 2013

Ten thousand miles, ten cities on a coast to coast ramble in a 1977 vintage VW bus all for the sake of promoting photographic art. From April to June of this year, gallerist Jennifer Schwartz was behind the wheel of her microbus on a two-fold mission: to promote photographers and create collectors. Working with five photographers in each city on the tour, she orchestrated pop-up events and curbside photo exhibits designed to educate and engage communities regarding photographic art and the value of starting a collection.

An avid photographer and collector, she launched the Jennifer Schwartz gallery in March 2009 in Atlanta with the hope of reaching collectors and providing an immersive art buying experience. One of the cornerstones of her early success was placing photographers in front of an audience of interested collectors. As she explained, her role was not just to sell work but also to foster a community of collectors.

Brooklyn bus 710x473 A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

Lady Blue replica model in Brooklyn, New York when the van was under repair.

Route map with dates 1024x682 710x472 A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

The Map of the trip.

“In my Atlanta gallery, I discovered the most successful programs to get new people interested in art involve meeting the artist and making a personal connection,” said Schwartz. “They lure people who have had only a limited relationship with art to have a unique, fun experience where they engage with photography and the artists in a thoughtful way. They look, and in a lot of cases, they start to believe in art.”

While the gallery experience created a local nexus for artists and enthusiasts to gather and view work, the space felt limiting as she was only reaching people in Atlanta. Thus, she came up with the idea of a mobile arts promotion traveling across the country in a wide loop from Atlanta to Los Angeles and up the West Coast to Seattle before heading east to Chicago and New York and then down the East Coast.

The trip wasn’t an unplanned, off-the-cuff road show. Schwartz staged pre-trip events in 2012, one at the High Museum of Art and the other in December at PhotoNOLA in New Orleans. These initial stops were instrumental in preparing for the three-month journey that began in April, which she named the Crusade for Collecting.

The idea was grassroots and simple — take the gallery experience on the road, interface with local photographers in each of the tour stops and then bring the photographers and their work directly to people on the street. In essence, breaking down the gallery walls and the exclusivity that exists in the art world. Photographers seeking exposure would give away ten of their photographic prints (between 6 x 9” and 8.5 x 11”) signed copies of an image freely in exchange for the exposure and opportunity of sharing their work and being a part of the tour.

MG 5054 710x473 A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

Pop-Up Event in Cleveland, Ohio.

LA popup 710x532 A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

Los Angeles, California Pop-Up event.

“I felt that if I could give people a fun, disarming art experience in an unexpected way – that if they had an opportunity to meet artists, learn about their work and connect to an original piece that became theirs – it may be transformative and put them on a path to loving, supporting and collecting original art,” said Schwartz. “And what could be more fun than walking by a turquoise 1977 VW bus with photographers standing in front giving away original, signed photographs to someone who wanted to chat about them?”

2013 04 13 14.40.16 710x710 A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

San Francisco Pop-Up Event

To fund the purchase and outfitting of her bus, nicknamed Lady Blue, Schwartz, like many project-driven photographers profiled on Fstoppers, launched a Kickstarter campaign. It wasn’t an easy prospect so her efforts were buoyed by additional sources including sponsorships, a local fundraiser, private donations, and the Collectors Building Collectors program that she developed with an Atlanta collector.

“When I launched my Kickstarter campaign, it still seemed fun and new and I had only known a couple of people who had run a Kickstarter campaign but I did have 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,’” said Schwartz. “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.  On the flip side, there is a significant amount of Kickstarter fatigue.  If you are going to do it, I think you have to be very strategic about it.  I wrote a blog post offering tips to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign, based on my experiences.”

Lady Blue, like many Volkswagen microbuses from the past, wasn’t the most reliable choice of vehicle considering she would be subjected to a bi-coastal odyssey. Once on the road, Jen quickly learned to speak ‘conversational mechanic’ and now counts several mechanics around the country as good friends. “Fewer breakdowns would’ve been nice…” she said.

IMG 7014web 710x946 A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

Mechanics and Sean Dana (photographer who traveled with the tour from San Francisco to Portland) diagnosing Lady Blue. Photo by Kurt Simonson.

There were some detractors who felt that the concept of giving away work was devaluing the photographic medium and the work of the artists. Participating photographers were given an opportunity to showcase their work and reach out to new people who might take an interest in their future work. “But the goal was to give people an opportunity to connect with a piece of art, own it, hang it, to recognize value in that experience, and to want to replicate it going forward,” said Schwartz. “The hope was that the engagement would be transformative.”

Overall, the three-month saga was “a blur of awesomeness.” Photographers often came aboard and drove sections of the trip and kept her company. Social media resources including facebooktwitterinstagramand youtube proved to be immeasurable as she documented the entire experience with blog posts and video updates. It was an organic way of keeping up with new contacts from cities past and to forecast and prepare for her arrival in a new city. A few highlights of the trip include: an unplanned stopover in Cleveland with assistance from the Cleveland Print Room, a private tour by Fred Bidwell of the Todd Hido show at Transformer Station and presenting to a sold-out crowd at FotoWeek DC, the final stop on the tour.

DC photogs 710x473 A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

DC pop up with photographers Frank H. Day, Hannele Lahti, E. Brady Robinson, Jennifer Schwartz, Alexandra Silverthorne, James Campbell.

DC bus A Crusade for Collecting: Jennifer Schwartzs Photo Road Trip

Lady Blue in front of the White House. 

Although the Crusade tour is over, she is developing Crusade for Art, a non-profit organization with a mission to educate, inspire, and support artists to create unique, approachable programs that engage new audiences with art in meaningful ways. She has a variety of opportunities for photographers that are in the works and will be announced at the end of the year.

“This tour was not about a road trip, it was about starting a conversation about art,” said Schwartz. “It is nice to know the conversation not only started, but also continues.”

You can keep up with Jennifer Schwartz by sign up for the email newsletter and following her online at Crusade for Art or check in on her gallery work at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery.

Comment