So some of y’alls missed a really nice little opening at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art! The show is gorgeous, and it was a lovely pretext for a sweet reunion of some sweetly familiar faces. The DJ was playing some phenomenal tunes outside in front of the museum: we were dancing (which perhaps looked more like jumping up and down in place) in the brisk evening breeze as the sun set on this blissfully daylight-savings’ed event. Kate Eilertsen, the director of MOCFA, said that this was the first time that they’ve undertaken a contemporary arts show in their space, and she was hoping to do more in the future. Not that I think that contemporary art needs to dominate all venues, but any time an institution takes a risk with new programming, it’s worth supporting. OK, maybe not any time, but certainly this time. Check out the show to let Kate know she’s made a great choice: it’s up until April 29th.
After going to the Beats Per Minute opening at MOCFA, Megan and I headed over to Intersection for the Arts for the preview reception they were having for their annual fundraiser! (I’ll continue with my shameless plugs for Galleon Trade artists Mike Arcega, Jaime Cortez, Julio Cesar Morales, Megan Wilson and Christine Wong Yap, all of whom have donated work to this auction.) Matt Gonzales even donated a piece to the cause. Swoon…
I donated the piece below, myself:
Bangka, 2007, ink and gouache on paper, 12″ x 9″
I made this just last week: initially, it seemed to be part of the series of narrative images I’m working on for my Berkeley MFA Thesis Show (more on that soon), but this one seemed to be moving into its own direction.
I was going through archives of photos I’ve taken in the Philippines over the years, and I got stuck on some close-ups I’d taken on local boats I’d been on. I really loved the weird formal tension of the bamboo and wires lashed together on these bangkas, so I thought I’d try a slightly abstracted study of one.
I confess that I kind of wanted to hang onto this since it’s so fresh, but I think that it’s the first of a small series of bangka studies, so I can let this go on into the world. Anyway, it’ll do Intersection more good than it’ll do me.
There was an interesting article in the NY Times last year about the problematics of art auction fundraisers: artists are often asked to donate their work to help raise money for an organization. Artists are also, however, usually, in the economic category of “bleeding-heart least able to financially afford to give work away”, so this sets up a bit of a stinger. And I know a few artists who absolutely refuse to donate to auctions, as they believe it devalues what they do. Personally, I find that attitude pretty selfish and market- centric, but at the same time, I’ve even had to start limiting how much I donate to auctions, myself. There’s only so much an artist can just give away. As it stands right now, I sell little of my work on my own, outside of to a handful of friends, so the few times my works sell in a public venue, I see none of this potential income.
On the other hand, I see all of the benefits of enjoying the causes I’m donating to. The organizations that I have donated to are either ones that I have directly benefitted from in many, many ways over the years (Southern Exposure, Kearny Street Workshop or Intersection‘s fantastic arts and community programming), or are run by good friends who have shared with me the value of what they’re doing (Jonn Herschend‘s work with the SF Bike Coalition, for example). I believe in them, I want to see them grow and thrive, and it’s a pretty small gesture to give a piece of art to them so that they can keep doing a lot more good locally than I’m doing on my own. (And lately, breathing down my neck is my fear that these Galleon Trade grants I’ve written might not be approved, which will necessite Galleon Trade having its own fundraiser, where I may finally be the person asking for this kind of help from friends, myself…)
There are so many worthwhile organizations in the Bay Area that deserve support: art auction fundraisers are effective (not to mention pretty fun parties), but these have to be part of a larger, more sustainable income stream. Most organizations know this, so it’s not like I’ve just come up with some phenomenal epiphany here, but until we (ie, folks in the Bay Area with the wherewithal) develop a more comprehensive culture of patronage (ie, more young white-collar types start investing in the arts instead of new Playstations), I’m a little hazy on how folks with little money donating work to organizations with little money to be bought at discount rates by other folks with little money is a sustainable solution.
I’ve been part of this system forever, and I understand it to degrees, but I confess to being unclear about some of the details. For example, I really wanna know who’s out there cultivating this new generation of patrons. I’ve been deeply ambivalent about the market aspects of the art world forever and a day, so when I say patrons, I don’t necessarily mean buyers and collectors: I mean people who will sit on the boards of nonprofs, help them stabilize, be their angels, and get them the funding and infrastructural support that they so richly deserve. It’s definitely happening, and Intersection is a great example of a worthwhile, sustainable arts organization, but with all the money and potential in the Bay Area, I’d love to see it happen more.
Anyway, enough about that! Phew! Ultimately, I still donate to auctions because I do believe in them. I’m not able to donate my time or other resources yet, so if this is all I gotta do to help out, it’s a miniscule price to pay.
Intersection for the Arts
2007 Auction Fundraiser
exhibition: March 14-28
auction: Wed, March 28, 7pm
(live auction starts at 8:30pm)
$5-20 sliding scale admission