Marketing Mondays: Help for Artists After the Storm

"The fundraising has been surprisingly easy,
even joyous."
--Artist Julie Torres on her project to help another artist
When electricity was turned back on in Chelsea, the galleries otherwise unaffected by superstorn Sandy opened their doors and have returned to showing and selling art. Affected dealers are still repairing damaged spaces, replacing business documents, filing insurance claims, and seeking conservation of damaged work. Most hope to be back up and running after the first of the year.

But what of the artists who lost a lifetime of work when high waters damaged their studios in Brooklyn? What of the artists who lost tools, equipment and supplies? Most did not have insurance. Those who did may see coverage of equipment, but it is a rare artist whose artwork losses are covered by insurance (in large part because art insurance for artists is so expensive for so little in monetary value.)

Today's post provides a some links for artists who need help and suggestions for those who wish to provide some assistance.

How one artist is helping another: Julie Torres,  a Brooklyn-based painter, is selling these postcard-size paintings for $20 each to help fellow Brooklyn artist, Rachel Beach.
Specific info farther down this post

Foundation Help
. NYFA Emergency Relief Fund
"The Andy Warhol Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Lambent Foundation (a project of the Tides Center) have established an Emergency Relief Fund, administered by NYFA [New York Foundation for the Arts] to assist artists with damages and losses as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Eligible artists can be working in any discipline and reside in Connecticut, New Jersey or New York." 
Grants are expected to range from $1000 to $5000.
Guidelines are on the NYFA site now. Application info will be posted on the NYFA website on November 21

. Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Emergency Grants
"The Emergency Assistance Program is intended to provide interim financial assistance to qualified artists whose needs are the result of an unforeseen, catastrophic incident, and who lack the resources to meet that situation. Each grant is given as one-time assistance for a specific emergency, examples of which are fire, flood, or emergency medical need."
Grant range: "The maximum amount of this grant is $10,000; an award of $4000 is typical."

. Alliance of Artists Communities Emergency Rellief Program
"In the event of an emergency, the Alliance can offer support for artists by connecting them with our diverse network of residency programs across the country. By providing the time, space, and support that residencies offer, artists can focus on their work, reflect, and renew their creative practice during an especially challenging time."

. Joan Mitchell Foundation Emergency Program
"The Joan Mitchell Foundation provides emergency support to artists working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, and/or drawing after natural or manmade disasters that have affected a community. Artists who have suffered losses due to catastrophic situations of this nature can apply to the Foundation for funding. Please contact the Joan Mitchell Foundation for additional information at

"Deeply concerned for the welfare of artists affected by the Hurricane Sandy disaster, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation is currently accepting emergency requests for grants to professional visual artists, which will be expedited under the Foundation’s guidelines.
"Artists are encouraged to visit our Foundation’s website, where we have an online application. If you do not have access to the internet, please contact the Foundation by telephone (212-517-5400) or fax (212-288-2836). All requests will be promptly addressed. A completed application form, cover letter, exhibition history and ten images of your work (jpegs or photos of work will be accepted) will be needed to be considered for our emergency grants."

Conservation Help
From friends via Facebook: Conservator Rustin Levenson will give a free seminar/demonstration on caring for wet/moldy paintings on canvas or wood. Artists and collectors can bring one (preferably small) painting. Limited supplies will be available, along with a supply list, website list, and printed instructions. The seminar will be from 4-6 PM on Tuesday November 20th at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
For exact location or questions about the seminar, email
The location will also be posted on our blog at
(Rustin Levenson is an acclaimed art conservator. After Hurricane Andrew in Miami she rescued over 5000 works of art.)

Personal Help
Some suggestions. Feel free to add yours in the Comments section.
. If you have extra storage space, even a small space, offer it to an artist for temporary storage
. If you have a studio that you work in only during the day, offer the use of it--or even a clean section--to a temporarily studio-less artist who would work at night
.Do you have a house within commuting distance? Does it have a barn or garage that could serve as a temporary studio for an artist who has lost hers?
. Do you have a laptop you're about to get rid of? If it's still in decent shape, give it to an artist or art group, since online applications for help grants, residencies and exhibition entry are now standard
. Offer to help one artist, or a small group, with grant applications
. Offer to photograph or Photoshop an artist's images
. Run errands for an artist who is busy cleaning or rebuilding a studio space
. Offer daycare for one time or on a temporary regular basis to a friend's child
. Have an artist or a group of artists over to dinner. If you can afford to do so, turn it into a "salon" so that you're not only feeding your needy friends but offering them a respite from the hard work of repairing or relocating a studio. Invite a few folks who might also be in a position to help
. Forget the food basket for a friend. Find out where s/he shops and offer a gift card in an amount from $25 to, well, whatever you can afford
. Set up a supply fund so that a group of artists might come over and select from what you have gathered. This might be office supplies or basic studio stuff like drawing implements, sketchpads, brushes, paintspalette knives, an easel.

Individual Financial Initiatives
I was very impressed with what Julie Torres did to help a friend. She created 100 small paintings (a selection of which is shown in the image that opens this post), which she is selling for $20 each, checks to be made out to Rachel Beach, an artist who lost much in the flood. Torres's act of generosity has created a win/win for artist and collector. If you want an original Julie Torres, you'll have to friend her on Facebook, because that's how she's promoting her fundraiser.

Torres told me me how the fundraiser came about and how Beach came to be the designated recipient:  "When I lost my job last winter I was broke and panicked, and held a 'studio sale' out of desperation. Though I didn't know Rachel very well at the time, she came to my sale and was especially generous and kind. Along with a few others, she helped get my rent paid, and she did it with a big, beaming smile. So when I saw the photos of Rachel's damaged studio after the storm, I knew I had to do something. Rachel is an uncommonly warm and talented person. The loss of her work is devastating. I am thrilled to be able to help her in this small way. And people have been incredibly generous. The fundraising has been surprisingly easy, even joyous."

This, it seems to me is a model for how many artists might help others. For instance:
. Hold your own Facebook fundraiser for a designated artist
. Get a group together and do something similar for a larger group of artists (or something really big for one artist)
. Raffle an artwork. Figure out what would be a reasonable ticket cost and ask your frients to take a change on winning this artwork while also helping an artist in need.

And, of course, there's the old standby: money. My friend David read of an artist's plight and was so moved he impulsively stuffed money into an envelope and sent it to her, someone he didn't even know. Inspired by David's generosity, I sent a check to an artist whose work I admire. She lost all her tools and equipment when the floodwater surged in and swept much of it out.

You know I'm a curmudgeon when it comes to being asked endlessly to donate art for good causes. But we all have our exceptions, and helping other artists during a difficult time would be a wonderful exception.

Packages leaving Julie Torres's studio
Both photos via Torres's Facebook page

How are you helping? What would you add to this list?


Anonymous said...

It is expensive if you insure every work of art that you have made. That is why, at the least, you should cover your major works.

That can amount to an extra $2 (or less) for every $1000 the artwork is worth. So depending on where you go, you can cover your $1000 painting for just $2 (or less) annually. It is often added to other aspects of home or renters insurance.

Susan Schwalb said...

Is there a clearinghouse or organization that one can donate to in order to help an artist who lost work/studio etc.? I have been reading about all of this but don't know any artists personally or how to contact them. I made a donation to the Kentler
International Drawing Space whose basement was flooded (thankfully no art damaged). I'd like to do something. Thanks.

CERULEAN said...

There's is a nice example of help on the altered page:

Susan Schwalb said...

I just bought a postcard from Julie, thanks for posting about her fundraiser.