Friday, March 30, 2007


I'm delighted to learn that I successfully bid for what's the latest addition to Galatea's walls: "Bangka", a work on paper by Jenifer Wofford. Yay.

I'd purchased the work through a fundraiser for Intersection for the Arts. As it turns out Jenifer is also a blogger and so an image of "Bangka" is available on her blog where she also discusses the work as being the first of a series of images stemming from photographs she took of bangkas, or Filipino boats: "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."

In the same blog post featuring "Bangka," Jenifer also had this to say about a topic close to moi heart: "the problematics of art auction fundraisers", to wit:

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.

There is, indeed, a lot of untapped potential for local arts patronage in the Bay Area. Let me say two thingies:

1) One of the things that shocked me about the Bay Area art scene when I first moved here from New York was how the immense wealth here does not translate to a more thriving art gallery scene (and, extending the logic, a larger support of the local art scene).

2) It seems that in some nonprofit organizations -- not just visual art but poetry nonprofits -- the artists (who often serve on the Boards) are reluctant, deep down in their hearts, to court potential angels as if there'd be a finance-based takeover (puns intended) of the aesthetic curatorial activities (and so the nonprofits keep relying on grants from increasingly scarce sources).

Both of these factors are related, moithinks, as regards why the wealth ain't supporting the arts as much as they could in the Bay Area. And of course there are other reasons....

It's a shame because there is humongous local talent. When we moved to the Bay Area, we thought to dedicate part of the collection to Bay Area based artists and learned quite quickly how there's so much here that satisfies the eyes. Galatea is now blessed with the works of such locals (or intermittent locals) as Clare Rojas, Manuel Ocampo, Stella Lai, Julio Cesar Morales, Stephanie Syjuco, Lisa Solomon, Mark Mulroney, Kara Maria, Laurie Reid, Evan Ellsworth-Jourden, Michelle Weinberg, Ulrike Palmbach, Chris Oliveria, Kathryn Spence, Chester Arnold, Jessica Snow, John Patrick McKenzie, and the Mail Order Brides as a group and its individual members Reanne Estrada, Jenifer Wofford, and Eliza Barrios, among others. Which is to say, there's a wealth of fabulous contemporary art being made by Bay Area-plus denizens, many of whom blow away the stuff I saw whenever I went through Chelsea in New York during the past few years.

We also were able to help place some of Michelle Weinberg's paintings (Michelle, then a 22-year-old freshly minted art graduate) on the walls of the hubby's law firm. And, really, someone should set up or propose a program to local businesses large or small on helping their community by putting up the works of local artists on their walls instead of refried prints (and when it comes to emerging art, this may not cause that much more money than what you'd allocate for corporate interior design anyway...).

I used to think about this a lot -- at one point, I had the desire to start up a gallery or art consultancy and so had a reason to look at the playing field here. But time passed and the Muse got more onerous and I had to birth all these books and other poetry projects and yadda yadda yadda...