I Believe in Art Saints by Ana Flores
Audio version <a href="http://ripr.org/post/connection-art" target="_blank">www.ripr.org</a>
I know people who’ll make courageous innovative efforts to have art in their lives. They’ll eat peanut butter for a year in order to pay off an artist month by month for a piece they’ve bought. They believe art is necessary food for their soul. As an artist, I love these kind of people, I call them art saints and this year I’ve been lucky enough to have a few in my life. Andrew, a new friend, called last summer six weeks before his second marriage to speak to my husband and me. “Friends keep asking us about a wedding registry and Megan and I’ve decided we don’t need another blender so we’d like to list your web sites as our registry. With the funds collected we’ll commission a work by each of you. What do you think?” I paused, stunned. “We’d love to create pieces for your new home and what a great idea- registering with artists instead of pottery barn!” Over the next three months fourteen friends registered and a “village” of patrons blossomed ea- ger to see the work we’d make for the unique spaces that he and Megan had designed together.
Luli is another saint. “I’d rather invest in something I love rather than the stock market,”she told me as we sat in her terraced garden. She’d spent a decade transforming this overgrown hillside along the Hudson River. “I want to see one of your pieces there”. She pointed to a space be- tween two trees. “The cost of bronze is like gold these days.” I warned. She was unfazed, excited instead by the prospect of watching the sculpture grow. Unfortunately there’s not enough saints to go around for so many artists, but an art collecting idea I learned about when we lived in New Zealand might offer a template for collecting on tight budgets. While there I met the Stitchbury club, fifteen women from Auckland whose focus was contemporary three dimensional work ranging from jewelry to outdoor sculpture. Each contributed a set amount annually to their art bank. Every month - like a book group–they gathered to learn and talk. Twice a year they traveled directly to selected artists studios then voted on works to purchase.
“This year we bought one big outdoor sculpture, moving it from site to site has been a grunt. But the more challenging the piece the more we seem to love it,” one of the member’s told me with a big smile. And I sensed they were loving everything they were doing: their camaraderie, artists friendships, and last but not least – living with the art as it rotated through their homes.
I believe there are many innovative models for commissioning and collecting art just waiting to be planted so they can blossom, grow and feed our souls. What’s yours?