December 26, 2018

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription

In this issue:

Dürer used his famous Praying Hands drawing to advertise his talent
Italian court says Getty Museum must surrender prized bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth
Family Reunited With Lost Works By Local Artist
Embracing the Snowman Within: Painting Snow
Walmart Is Now the Owner of the World’s Largest Art Retailer
National Gallery of Art in Washington hires its first female director
SCAD turns 40
New Study Says Americans Twice as Likely to Vote for Candidates Who Support Arts Funding Than Not
Can Artists Organize? The Story of WAGE
Overlooked in Atlanta, Black Female Artists Try Miami





Dürer used his Famous Praying Hands Drawing to advertise his Talent
Chief curator of Vienna’s Albertina argues that the work, which shows the artist's own hands, was a finished work rather than preparatory drawing

Albrecht Dürer’s Praying Hands (1508) was not, as has been assumed for centuries, a preparatory drawing for a painted altarpiece, but a finished work made as an advertisement for the master’s talent. This revolutionary theory will be put forward by the chief curator of Vienna’s Albertina in a major Dürer exhibition late next year (Albrecht Dürer, 20 September 2019-6 January 2020).

The Albertina’s Christof Metzger also argues that the drawing depicts the actual hands of the artist. If so, this raises intriguing physiological questions about the hands of the greatest artist of the northern Renaissance.

Praying Hands is now among the most famous drawings of all time. Metzger suggests that it is more widely recognised than any other, with the possible exception of Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man (around 1490). More than five centuries later, reproductions of the work still adorn the homes of millions of people, as a religious icon.

Since the 19th century, it has been assumed that the work was made as a study for an apostle in the lower-right corner of the central panel of the Heller altarpiece (completed 1509), named after the Frankfurt merchant who ordered it. The original panel was destroyed by fire in 1729, but a good copy by Jobst Harrich survives and is now at the Historisches Museum in Frankfurt.

Art historians have always believed that Praying Hands was a preliminary study for the altarpiece. This argument was put forward most recently in two important exhibitions in 2013: at Frankfurt’s Städel Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (where the catalogue entry was written by Heinz Widauer, Metzger’s curatorial colleague at the Albertina).

Metzger says that scholars are wrong: he asks why Dürer would have gone to the trouble of making a highly finished drawing only for it to be scaled down for a tiny detail in a painted altarpiece.

“The work represents a miracle of observation and it is too ambitious to be merely a preliminary study,” he says. “Dürer made it as a ‘master drawing’ to show to visitors in his workshop, as an example of his God-given talent.”

According to Metzger, Praying Hands and a few other associated drawings were produced “to advertise Dürer’s talents”. They would have been brought out to show a range of prospective clients the quality they could expect from a commission from the artist.

He also argues that the drawing depicts Dürer’s own hands. “The very delicate fingers and hands are reminiscent of those in the 1500 Munich self-portrait. The little finger of the partially hidden hand on the left in the drawing seems to have a curvature or stiffening of the joint, which appears in other self-portraits, such as the 1493 drawing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Art Newspaper


Spain, California Family go to Trial over Disputed Nazi Art

Seventy-nine years ago a Jewish woman named Lilly Cassirer surrendered her family's priceless Camille Pissarro painting to the Nazis in exchange for safe passage out of Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.

On Tuesday her great-grandson will walk into a U.S. courtroom for the latest round of what has been a nearly 20-year battle to get it back.

After years of appeals by both Lilly Cassirer's descendants and Spain's Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, where the painting has hung for 25 years, a trial to decide its rightful owner is scheduled before U.S. District Judge John F. Walter.

Neither side disputes that Cassirer handed the painting over to the Nazis in 1939 in exchange for safe passage out of the country for herself, her husband and her grandson.

But the Madrid museum has argued that she forfeited her ownership rights when she accepted $13,000 from Germany in 1958, after the German government concluded the painting was lost forever. The museum also has argued that it acquired the work in good faith and has never tried to hide it.

"There's no dispute about the painting's complete history. The court examined all the evidence and determined that the museum is the rightful owner," Thyssen-Bornemisza's U.S. attorney, Thaddeus J. Stauber, told The Associated Press in 2016 after Walter initially dismissed the case.

The Cassirer family successfully appealed last year and their lawsuit was returned to Walter for trial.

The family's attorney, David Boies, says the matter now boils down to Spain doing what's right and surrendering the painting.

"It's unusual for a modern liberal democracy to be trying to hold onto Nazi-looted art," he said Monday as he prepared for trial. "Every other civilized country in the world is committed to returning Nazi-looted art to the rightful owners."

The painting, "Rue St.-Honore, Apres-Midi, Effet de Pluie" has been valued at $30 million or more.

Pissarro created the stunning oil-on-canvas work of a rainy Paris street scene from what he saw out the window of a hotel room in 1897. Its title translates to English as "Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon, Effect of Rain."

Lilly Cassirer's father-in-law bought it directly from Pissarro's art dealer and left it to her and her husband when he died.

For more than 70 years her family believed it was lost. Then in 1999 a friend of Cassirer's grandson, Claude, who had fled Germany with her, saw a photo of it in a catalog and contacted him.

"And he was completely stunned because we thought the painting was gone," Claude Cassirer's son, David Cassirer of San Diego, told The Associated Press in 2016.

It turned out the work had been sold and resold several times before Baron Hans-Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, one of the 20th century's most prominent art collectors, bought it from New York gallery owner Stephen Hahn in 1976.

Thyssen-Bornemisza, who died in 2002, sold the painting and hundreds of other works to Spain in 1993 and they now form the core of the museum named for him. WSB


Italian Court says Getty Museum must Surrender Prized bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth
The Los Angeles institution counters that it will keep on fighting to maintain the linchpin of its collection

Italy’s highest court has ruled that the J. Paul Getty Museum must surrender a linchpin of its collection, the bronze Statue of a Victorious Youth, to Italy. But the Getty vowed today (4 December) to resist, saying that the statue “is not and never has been part of Italy’s cultural heritage”.

The ruling by the Court of Cassation was handed down Monday after a long battle over the ancient Greek bronze, which was found by Italian fishermen off the Adriatic coast in 1964 and purchased by the Getty in the UK for almost $4m in 1977. The court was rejecting the Getty’s appeal of a ruling in June by a lower court in Pesaro stating that the statue must be returned.

Despite earlier decisions to the contrary, the lower-court judge had ruled that the statue was found in Italian waters­—and stated that even if the waters were not Italian, the discovery was made by individuals aboard an Italian ship, using the ship’s fishing nets, which he said would represent state territory and make the statue subject to Italian cultural heritage laws.

The Getty counters that the statue was discovered in international waters, which voids Italy’s claim. “The statue is not and never has been part of Italy’s cultural heritage,” says Lisa Lapin, the vice president of communications for the J. Paul Getty Trust, in a statement. “Accidental discovery by Italian citizens does not make the statue an Italian object. Found outside the territory of any modern state, and immersed in the sea for two millennia, the bronze has only a fleeting and incidental connection with Italy.”

“We will continue to defend our legal right to the statue,” she says. “We believe any forfeiture order is contrary to American and international law.”

Asked what legal avenue the Getty could now pursue, Lapin replied by email: “We are told it will be some weeks or months before we see the written explanation from the Court of Cassation. As such, it would be premature to determine our specific next steps.”

“While this ruling does appear to conclude the legal activity in Italy, there are potentially other options within Europe and of course within the US,” she added. “It would be too early for us to speculate which direction we would take.”

Given the Getty’s refusal to turn over the statue, “I imagine that it’s up to the Italians to pursue the case in US courts,” suggests Patty Gerstenblith, a professor at the DePaul University College of Law who specialises in museum and cultural heritage law. In that case, “they would have to file in federal court in Los Angeles.”

Since 1978, the statue has been on display at the Getty Villa in Malibu, California. Dated by the museum to 300 to 100BC, it is thought to have been removed from Greece by the Romans and to have been lost when a ship carrying it sank on its journey home. Possibly a tribute to a victory by a Greek athlete at Olympia, the life-size piece is considered a rarity.

In its statement, the Getty emphasises that any prosecutions in Italy of the individuals who sold the statue were dropped for lack of evidence. It also cites a 1960s decision by the Court of Cassation that there was no evidence that the object belonged to Italy.

In 2006, the Italian Culture Ministry launched an initiative to secure the return of the bronze. Since then, says Gerstenblith, “there seems to have been a switch. Fifty years after the original event, they’re saying that it was found in Italian waters.”

“If it’s found outside of Italian territorial waters, Italy doesn’t have a claim.” The Art Newspaper

Family Reunited wth Lost Works by Local Artist

Irma Freeman was born in 1903, in Germany. She died in 1994, in Pittsburgh, having established a name locally as a self-taught artist.

Her memory has been kept alive primarily by her granddaughter, Sheila Ali, who storehouses some 500 of Freeman’s paintings and drawings and in 2009 founded the Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, an arts center in Friendship, in her honor.

Back in May, Ali got an email from Donna Palermo, of Bloomfield. One rainy day, something caught Palermo’s eye by the trash pick-up of her apartment building. It was a stack of works on paper, some labeled on their backs with names and addresses – including one on nearby Ellsworth Avenue. The handwriting on the labels precisely matched that of Palermo’s aunt. She brought the papers in to dry. The names, she said, were Irma Freeman and Ruth Freeman.

“It took me about an hour to decide what to do,” says Palermo. “I thought, ‘No, I can’t throw them out.’”

She started Googling.

Ali, who lives in neighboring Shadyside, made it over to look at the art in July. She brought along her brother, Robbie Ali, and Ruth Freeman, who is her aunt and Irma Freeman’s daughter. Approximately 50 works were stacked on Palermo’s kitchen table, and there was a faint musty smell in the room as the family sifted through them.

Most of the works turned out to be Ruth Freeman’s. The Peabody High School graduate, now 78, studied art at Carnegie Tech, the precursor to Carnegie Mellon University. Her earliest piece here was an award-winning 1957 landscape including the old East Liberty Sears department store that she did as a teenager. She later taught art in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and did freelance artwork and page design for area publications; long retired, she now has a sideline in selling her artwork on eBay and Etsy as Mono Ruth Art House (some of her work also ended up onscreen on Louis C.K.’s old TV show Louie.)

Ruth Freeman’s career was entwined at times with that of her mother, who in the late ’50s and early ’60s sometimes sat in on Ruth’s art classes at Carnegie Tech. Irma Freeman had a life-long love of drawing and painting. Sheila Ali says that when she was growing up, in the 1960s and ’70s, her family bonded over art. “We all drew and sketched around as a family, with my grandmother, with each other, or wherever we went,” she says

Irma Freeman was married to Louis Freeman; the couple had three children and never had much money. She didn’t really get going with her art – mostly colorful landscapes and still lifes -- until she turned 70. And it was only after she turned 80 that she started showing her work publicly, at venues including the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and sometimes in “mother-daughter” shows with Ruth, at local galleries.

In the early ’90s, Ali helped Irma Freeman’s work reach a new generation of artists and art lovers by arranging shows at now-vanished venues like Garfield Artworks and Wilkinsburg’s Turmoil Room. And she’s continued showing it occasionally at the Irma Freeman Center, a gallery and educational space.

“When I think about the way she was in her 90s, she painted from morning till night,” says Ali. “She was one of the most inspired people I’ve ever met. And she was inspiring.”

Freeman’s work isn’t much known outside Pittsburgh, but she has her fans.

“When you see an Irma Freeman, you’ll say, that’s her style,” says Pat McArdle, a Pittsburgh-based collector who specializes in work by artists who are self-taught and work outside the commercial gallery scene – so-called “outsider artists.” “When you see the figurative work and these colorations that she uses, it’s unique to her.”

At Donna Palermo’s apartment, Ruth Freeman seems pleased to be reunited with works of hers from decades ago. “Some things are nice to see, the old projects,” she says. She is unsure how they all ended up in a building she never lived in. (Reached by phone, the landlord, Julio Pampena, says the art was in the basement when he purchased the building at a tax sale, in 1997; he said the art was thrown out by accident. Ali thinks it’s likely that her aunt left the papers behind when she vacated her old apartment on Ellsworth in the 1980s, and that an old roommate then took it to the Bloomfield address.)

At Palermo’s apartment, the search for Irma Freeman’s work takes about 10 minutes. “Wait a second, this looks like an Irma Freeman,” says Sheila Ali, spotting a colorful pastel portrait of a seated young woman.

“Yes, that’s hers,” says Ruth Freeman. “That’s definitely hers.”

“There’s her signature and a date, 1964,” says Robbie Ali.

There are five signed Freemans in all, including a couple of nude sketches, and another work that’s probably hers, says Ali.

“Thank you for making the effort to rescue this obscure art and track down the owners,” Ali told Palermo.

“I just had to return it,” said Palermo. “I felt it needed to go back to the owners.”

At this week’s Unblurred gallery crawl on Penn Avenue, the Irma Freeman Center will open “Impressions and Found Work,” a show of Freeman’s art including several of the rediscovered works. The show also features paintings by local artist Laura Rossner.

Freeman’s paintings are not for sale, says Ali, but she is selling unframed high-resolution prints of some of her works.

“Impressions and Found Work” opens with a reception Friday -- a week before what would have been Irma Freeman’s 115th birthday. WESA


Embracing the Snowman Within: Painting Snow

As we enter the winter season, I imagine much of plein air painting will cease. Oh, there will be a few hearty souls who will bundle up and trudge through the snow with their equipment, but I’m guessing many more are like me . . . basically fair-weather painters.

I do paint winter scenes from life, but they’re usually done looking through a window while sitting in the warmth of my studio or from the front seat of a car. My hands, injured many years ago from prolonged cold, cannot tolerate even cool temperatures, so the ideal winter plein air experience for me would be a brilliant sunny day, a foot or so of unmelting snow, and a temperature of 72 degrees. I don’t imagine that’s going to happen anytime soon unless God again displays that nothing is impossible in Him. In the meantime, through a window it will be.

Fortunately, there are some serious painters who thrive on experiencing fully all that winter has to offer. Aldro Hibbard (1886–1972) was one of those. Contemporary painters Stapleton Kearns and Joe Paquet are a couple of others.

So, if you’re one of those purists who must stand in the snow to paint, these guys offer helpful advice.

Joe Paquet layers up to the point of overheating before going out. He too experienced early damage to his hands, so they get cold faster than normal. Despite this, he still wears only a pair of thin gloves, because he needs delicate control of the brush, and he also carries some heat packs with him.

Stapleton Kearns says, “If you want to paint snow, go outside and do it. Photography won’t tell you enough about the structure of the snow to make a painting. It is hard to get the feeling of winter without feeling the winter. If the idea of working out in the cold doesn’t appeal to you, maybe another subject might be more suitable. To paint snow well, you must love winter. People who paint boats well, love boating.”

Aldro Hibbard often visited the site beforehand and composed the picture mentally and memorized the impression it made on him. He’d set up the easel and during the first day make a layout on a large canvas. This was painted very thinly with plenty of turpentine, almost a watercolor technique, with colors that approximated the probable final scheme. If the desired effect was a fleeting one, he had several small canvases ready for very rapid sketches when the sun reached its appointed place. He would make several such sketches at different times before being ready to finish the large canvas. Sometimes the large canvas was completed in the studio, but his general practice was to complete them on the spot.

Often, he would paint on a picture outdoors all day, spending the morning and midday on layout or underlay and waiting for the late afternoon to make the final color adjustments. Spending too long on one painting under rapidly changing light, he considered dangerous. When the effect is transitory, he preferred recording impressions in small sketches and relying upon them for the final painting.

To overcome glare reflecting from the snow upon the canvas, he placed a piece of black cloth under his easel and feet. He liked to say the picture has to be painted on the palette. Unless the artist can judge the right color before it goes onto the canvas, he is lost.

Kearns and Paquet each “prepare” their white paint for winter painting. Joe mixes cold-pressed linseed oil into his lead white before going out. Stapleton squeezes out a doughnut of white onto his palette and adds medium into the hole in the middle, whipping that together with a palette knife.

Paquet uses New Traditions half-inch panels mounted with Clausens Linen (Type 15 for large works) and tones the surface prior to painting. He prefers this surface because it never goes slack, they’re lightweight and very rigid, and the sun doesn’t shine through them. The downside . . . they can become sails in strong winds.

Kearns offers further advice: “We’ve all heard that snow is not white. So, what’s that leave? Red, yellow, and blue. Adding white to these three will enable you to achieve the high values you’ll need to make snow. Snow is opalescent. I’ll lay in a field of snow using a very high-key mixture of cobalt violet (red and blue) and then drive a high-key mixture of cadmium yellow and white into it (there’s the yellow). Forms are modeled by controlling how much yellow is added. Where the sun hits the forms, I’ll use more; as they turn away from the light, I use less. Violet can be added to describe forms as they turn away from the light. Don’t paint your snow in too high a key. Just as a photograph will lose its detail or modeling if it is over exposed, using too much white in snow will prevent you from modeling it. I suggest you drop the value down a bit from the way it appears on location.

“The shadows on snow are the opposite of the color of the light, but that’s a generalization. Be careful to observe what is actually taking place before you and use that while looking for the complement of the light. I like to paint my reflected lights warm. Cadmium orange works for that. If your lights are warm, generally your shadows will be cool.

“It is almost always best to err toward warmth in a snowscape . . . maybe in any picture. Cold pictures are less welcoming. Just because it is a snow picture doesn’t mean you have to paint it ice cold. If we like a person, we might say they are warm and friendly. If we say they are cold, that is just the opposite. Likewise, we are attracted to warm paintings. Warm golden lights and blue shadows make for a lovely painting.”

In closing, Joe Paquet says he is careful never to rush in order to finish a painting in the field. “Patience is a real virtue. I endeavor to work the whole canvas together in order to find the specific harmony in front of me.”

I can see what he means. Because of the cold, the normal thing would be to rush the work in order to get out of the cold as soon as possible. Not a good idea, Paquet says.

In speaking with Stapleton, I was surprised that he does not call himself a plein air painter. He begins every painting on location, but like his important influence, Aldro Hibbard, he is not opposed to finishing each painting in the studio if need be. Joe Paquet also is not opposed to adding a touch or two in the studio if, as he likes to say, the painting starts “speaking” to him, telling him what needs to be done. Outdoor Painter


Walmart Is Now the Owner of the World’s Largest Art Retailer
Adding another powerful online brand to its purse, Walmart recently announced the acquisition of, which calls itself the “world’s largest online specialty retailer of high-quality wall art.”Leave no stone unturned, even if you end up in the art business.

In the mega-retailer’s ongoing quest for wholesale domination, Walmart announced last week that it will acquire for an undisclosed amount. According to a source who spoke with CNBC, the website, which bills itself as the “world’s largest online specialty retailer of high-quality wall art,” is said to have brought in more than $300 million in annual sales annually.

Reportedly, the acquisition’s cost is comparable to Walmart’s other recent e-commerce purchases, like its $3 billion bid on in 2016. The high price of, however, may be counterbalanced by the market data and technological buildout that the digital company has to offer.

In a press release, Walmart said that it would soon upload’s database of 2 million images to its website, ranging from posters to limited-edition prints on paper, canvas, and wall décor.

“As we think about the future right now, art will be one area where we will leverage augmented reality,” Anthony Soohoo, the senior vice president of Walmart’s online home business in the US, told CNBC. According to Soohoo, 25% of’s customers use a feature on the platform called ArtView to envisage what an artwork would like on their walls before buying. Walmart expects to “leverage that expertise” about augmented reality into other categories of its business, Soohoo added.

Marc Lore, head of Walmart’s US e-commerce business, has previously expressed the company’s desire to own upwards of 40 digitally native brands. Alongside its deep dive into the art business, the company has attempted to break into the high-end market with a recent partnership with the department store Lord & Taylor. will join the home-furnishings brand on Walmart’s roster of wall decorators, which the company says is a $10 billion market in the United States. The deal is expected to close early next year. Hyperallergic


National Gallery of Art in Washington hires its First Female Director
Kaywin Feldman, to begin in March, currently leads the Minneapolis Institute of Art

For the first time since it opened in 1941, a woman will lead the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington—the second-most attended art museum in the US—with the appointment of Kaywin Feldman as its next director, announced today (11 December). “I’m a feminist, and I have long advocated for gender equality, so it’s really exciting for me to be able to lead the nation’s art museum,” says Feldman, who has been the director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) for a decade and is due to begin her new role at the NGA on 11 March. She replaces Earl “Rusty” Powell, who has led the NGA since 1992 and announced in November 2017 that he would step down in 2019.

The director search was launched last April by a five-member committee co-chaired by the NGA’s president, Frederick Beinecke, and board chair, Sharon Rockefeller. “I really have to applaud the trustees of the National Gallery who from the beginning [of] their search process, set out diversity, equity and inclusion as one of their primary goals,” Feldman says. “They’re walking the talk.” (Diversity has been listed as a major consideration for other high-profile museum director jobs that nonetheless went to white men this year, with Max Hollein, for example, appointed director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the most attended art museum in the country.)

“Kaywin Feldman is a dynamic and highly principled leader, a gracious collaborator and an innovator with the skills and vision to lead the National Gallery of Art in the 21st century,” Beinecke said in a statement.

Feldman was previously the director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee from 1999 to 2007 and has served as the president of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the chair of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). In her new role, she jumps from leading an institution with an annual operating budget of around $25m and around 250 staff members to an institution with a $190m annual operating budget (of which around 75% comes from federal funds) and around 1,100 staff members. The NGA comprises not only 12 curatorial and conservation departments and an annual programme of 20 to 25 exhibitions, but also the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), a major art historical research library and an active publication department. The NGA­­­­ has more than 5.2m visitors annually. Under Feldman’s leadership, Mia’s annual attendance doubled to 783,000 visitors in 2017.

At Mia, Feldman also established Mia’s contemporary art department, founded the Center for Empathy in the Visual Arts and introduced free admission (which the NGA also has). She has been a community-focussed leader; for example, the museum, in a neighbourhood with many immigrants, now offers classes to prepare them for the naturalisation exam, using Mia’s collection as a teaching tool.

“Certainly, my greatest moments of happiness throughout my 25-year career as a museum director have been watching the impact of work that the museum does on the community, and so I’m really excited get to know the greater Washington community better and understand [their] needs,” Feldman says. The majority of the NGA’s visitors are from the DC metropolitan area.

“But it’s also the nation’s museum, so it’s a different kind of community, and that’s quite honestly one of the things that really drew me to the opportunity,” Feldman adds. “It’ll be a new experience for me and one that I’m really excited to learn more about.”

Feldman herself has benefited from the NGA’s community programmes. She attended high school in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland, and says she is “the product of education programmes of the National Gallery”. Feldman recalls being in Washington when the museum’s East Building, designed by I.M. Pei, opened in 1978, and being taken to visit the NGA’s collection of French paintings each year by a French teacher. “It definitely made an impression,” she says.

The NGA director job description also says the leader must “define the aesthetic standards of the Gallery and its collection”—currently 152,000 objects, mainly European and American art from the Renaissance to the present—and “ensure that acquisitions are of a high standard”. Having studied Dutch and Flemish art for her master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute in London, Feldman says she is “enamored with the collection”, which includes the largest group of Dutch and Flemish Baroque paintings outside of the Netherlands.

Feldman’s previous focus on digital initiatives, which she sees as an opportunity to “expand the footprint of the institution”, aligns with the job search’s call for a leader to “develop and implement a digital strategy”. According to an article published in the Washington Post in August, 8.2m people visited the NGA’s website last year (versus the Met’s 38.3m visitors) and the museum had around 1.3m followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (versus the Met’s 8.8m).

Based on staff interviews, the article also identified concerns about “poor management”, “long-standing problems of sexual harassment”, “haphazard handling of [sexual harassment] complaints” and “retaliation and favouritism” at NGA. The museum has declined to comment on the article. When asked about working with staff, management problems and establishing trust, Feldman says: “It’s too early for me to identify anything specific, but what I would say is, I will do the same thing at the NGA as when I first came [to Mia], which is to dedicate the first year to doing a lot of listening.” She is due to meet with museum staff tomorrow (12 December).

With the challenges facing her in her new job, what is Feldman most concerned about at this moment? “I can tell you what it is—absolutely, moving my two cats,” she says. “They are individuals, and I still am traumatized by moving my prior cats to Minneapolis. So that’s what’s keeping me up at night.” The Art Newspaper


SCAD Turns 40

More than 40 years ago, a twenty-something teacher at Sarah Smith Elementary School had a big idea. She wanted to start her own school, a college maybe, where students who had a passion for art and design could thrive. She had hoped to open the school in Atlanta but decided her hometown had more than enough educational institutions. So Paula Wallace and her family headed to Savannah to open an arts college that was fueled by their dreams and funded by her parents’ retirement account.

The Savannah College of Art and Design greeted 71 students in the fall of 1978. Today SCAD has over 55,000 students and alumni. Wallace’s mission was to develop an institution that is professionally focused, intellectually rigorous, and student-centered through academic programs at four campuses on three continents, as well as an accredited online eLearning environment. In 2005, Wallace fulfilled her desire to open a school in Atlanta with the establishment of SCAD’s Atlanta campus. Here is a look back in photos of how the global university has evolved (All images courtesy of SCAD).

Paula Wallace was teaching elementary school in the Atlanta Public Schools system when she decided to found a new school, an art and design college called the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). As she wrote in her 2015 memoir, “The Bee and the Acorn” -- “By teaching young students how to create new stories and songs and art, I’d begun to create my own new story.”

Poetter Hall, the first SCAD building, was acquired by the university in 1979. The building dates back to 1892 when it was the Savannah Volunteer Guard Armory. Poetter Hall, located on in Savannah, is named in honor of Paula’s parents, SCAD co-founders May and Paul Poetter.

The first SCAD graduating class in May 1982 included eight students who earned baccalaureate degrees. SCAD now enrolls nearly 15,000 students from more than 100 countries and offers more than 100 academic degree programs across its locations in Atlanta and Savannah; Hong Kong; Lacoste, France; and online via SCAD eLearning.

This early iteration of SCAD’s mascot, Art T. Bee, dates to 1984. As Wallace wrote in SCAD: Architecture of a University -- “The bee represents more than endurance and movement—it represents the miracle that is SCAD. Bees are known to defy expectations. With their small wings and relatively hefty bodies, they should not be able to fly, yet they have proven to be among the most productive creatures in the world. Bees also make honey and they never stand still, much like SCAD.”

The Queen Anne-Victorian style Ivy Hall was designed by noted architect Gottfried L. Norrman in 1883. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Ivy Hall currently serves as a literary hub for distinguished scholars-in-residence and Ivy Hall Writers Series guests including Margaret Atwood, Colson Whitehead, Bret Easton Ellis, Gary Shteyngart, Augusten Burroughs and Karen Russell.

SCAD Atlanta opened its doors in 2005 with 77 students in one building. These students pictured in 2006 were among the first local graduates. Today, SCAD Atlanta has over 2,500 students. A year after its opening, SCAD Atlanta held its first Open Studio Night. Open Studio Night is now an annual event, showcasing of the best painting, photography, illustration, printmaking and sculpture by SCAD students, faculty and alumni, with all funds going to SCAD students, directly or through scholarships.

Over the years, SCAD has introduced a number of innovations including SCADpro, a design shop that combines the brainpower of talented students, alumni and professors to produce creative business solutions for influential brands, including NASA, BMW, Target, L'Oréal, Amazon, Delta, Disney and Google. The SCAD Digital Media Center (pictured), which opened in Fall 2009, houses academic majors within the School of Digital Media and the School of Entertainment Arts, including animation, interactive design and game development, motion media design, visual effects, and television producing. The 60,000-square-foot facility, formerly the WXIA building, enables students to work and learn in a real-world studio environment.

Since its inception in 2010, the SCAD Buzz Bus program, established by SCAD president and founder Paula Wallace, has positively impacted the lives of more than 15,000 children. The SCAD Buzz Bus makes frequent surprise visits to local schools and other youth-centered organizations in Atlanta and Savannah to promote art education through workshops, readings, musical performances and art-supply donations.

SCADpad embraced the “tiny homes” concept, as implemented in the SCAD Atlanta parking garage. Students from twelve programs worked collaboratively to design and build three units the size of a parking spot, and SCAD supporters had the chance to live in the spaces during a 90-day period. SCADpad won the 2014 AIA Georgia Design Award and World Architecture News’ Urban Design Award.

SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film celebrates fashion as a universal language, garments as important conduits of identity, and film as an immersive and memorable medium. Located at 1600 Peachtree St. NW, SCAD FASH brings international designers to welcome visitors of all ages to engage with dynamic exhibitions, captivating films and educationally enriching events. SCAD also hosts, SCAD aTVfest which is devoted to the latest in design, creativity and innovation in television and media production. aTVfest draws industry-leading producers, directors, writers and actors to SCAD venues in midtown Atlanta.

SCAD Art Sales is a full-service art consultancy and online gallery platform featuring work by over 300 SCAD artists. Recent SCAD Art Sales clients include The Art Collection at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Facebook’s Atlanta offices, and Sotherly Hotels. SCAD Art Sales operates showrooms in both Savannah and Atlanta. Atlanta Journal Constitution


New Study Says Americans Twice as Likely to Vote for Candidates Who Support Arts Funding Than Not
The wide-ranging report from the nonprofit Americans for the Arts also affirms near-universal support for arts education and illustrates that 52% of Americans do, in fact, sing in the shower.

Americans believe more strongly than ever that the arts provide meaning to their lives and can unify communities. That’s the main takeaway from a new report conducted by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts, which has helped advance cultural policies in the United States for over 50 years.

According to their survey sample of over 3,000 adults, Americans believe that the arts are a fundamental component of a healthy society, defined as one that provides benefits to individuals, communities, and the nation. The report focuses on how participants perceive and engage in the arts as they pertain to their national and local identities.

Readers might be surprised to learn that the most attended cultural events in the last year took place at zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens. Museums and galleries came in sixth and seventh places, respectively, just after theatre performances. Overall, total attendance jumped from 68% in 2015 to 72% in 2018. Consistent with past studies, higher education and income levels coincided with attendance levels, but the report found that white people and people of color attended at least one art event at an equal rate. The survey also indicated that audiences want to see art in “non-traditional” venues like parks, public spaces, schools, airports, and hospitals.

Quirkier data in the report reveals that 52% of respondents said that they sing in the shower or when nobody was listening, with an unusual 3% of people saying that they were unsure whether they did or not. Young adults ages 18–34 comprised the majority of bathroom chanteuses, with 68% of them saying yes.

More shocking is how the Americans for the Arts 2018 study implicates the federal government in its findings. According to its data, 40% of Americans believe that the White House is not spending enough on nonprofit arts organizations. A majority of Americans (53%) also approve of doubling the federal government’s funding to these organizations and generally financing the arts (65%).

The report also found that respondents were twice as likely to vote for a candidate who increased federal arts spending from 45 cents to $1 per person — though this does not necessarily imply that cultural funding is a top priority for voters at the ballot box.

Still, the policy implications here are fascinating, especially because the last study was completed in 2015, a year before Donald Trump’s presidential election and his demand for the defunding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

Speaking of which, the study found near-universal support for arts education, with 91% of those surveyed saying that they believe the arts are part of a well-rounded K–12 education. This datapoint affirms the NEA’s pivot toward funding arts education and veteran programs under the organization’s new acting chairwoman, Mary Anne Carter. Hyperallergic


Can Artists Organize? The Story of WAGE

In 2016, the multidisciplinary artist Devin Kenny’s work was screened in a video program at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Hito Steyerl, one of the show’s more established artists, forfeited her fee so that others could have higher compensation. “I thought that was so epic,” Kenny said. “It was a small amount, but it actually benefitted me greatly and made a big impact.” Kenny had graduated from the M.F.A. program at U.C.L.A. just three years before. He received his degree without incurring egregious debt, unlike many of his peers. And yet, in terms of finances, Kenny is like many artists who tend to blur the boundary between work and life. When I asked if the moca fee was for production costs or for his cost of living, he said, “What’s the difference? I’m constantly making art, so that money—whether it’s going towards a medical bill or a sandwich or an art supply—is going towards art.”

Kenny credits the activist nonprofit organization Working Artists and the Greater Economy (better known as wage) with raising his consciousness about the inequity in the art world. The information about artist fees and negotiating tools available on their Web site became resources that he could use to measure his worth. “When you’re just beginning, you feel very nervous about communicating your needs. You need to know how to negotiate, and you need to know the value of the work that you do and how that work adds value to whatever institution is showcasing it,” he said. “Examples that crystallize it for me, beyond an art-world experience, are viral content. People perform particular actions that circulate, and then they don’t have a means to capitalize off of the wild popularity of the thing that they made or are featured in. Particularly, I’m thinking of black youth who make particular platforms desirable to be a part of, whether it be Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or YouTube, and they are largely not being compensated. So that’s an even more concrete example that’s part of mainstream culture, where this is a person who’s famous but broke.” In the art world, he said, “Institutions pay you with exposure, and there is a certain currency to being an emerging artist. However, it doesn’t protect you from exploitation.”

wage’s primary focus since 2014 has been on granting a certification to arts nonprofits that pay artists according to standardized rates. wage uses each organization’s total operating expenses to calculate appropriate fees in fifteen categories, including participation in solo or group exhibitions, performances, commissioned and existing texts and talks, screenings with in-person appearances, and day rates for performers. Sixty-one organizations have been certified so far, and, last March, Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art became the first museum to join the list.

Kate Kraczon, a curator at the ICA Philadelphia who was instrumental in certifying that museum, told me over the phone that when paying artist fees, she often implores artists, “This honorarium is for your labor, for your bills, for groceries, for rent. I prefer you not spend it on materials for this project.” Many artists are willing to use their fees to enhance their work beyond the capacity of a museum budget. “I encourage them not to go out of pocket,” Kraczon said, “but you can’t control that.”

wagency, which launched in September, is the next phase for the advocacy group, and it shifts the burden of responsibility for ensuring fair pay from institutions to artists. As members of the program (or wagents), artists will pay five dollars a month to gain access to an online platform through which they can calculate and request fees from institutions that invite them to give a talk or show a work of art. Each request is then inserted into a form letter, emblazoned with the wage logo, and e-mailed directly to the artist’s contact at the institution. The institution is given a choice of two responses: approve or negotiate. When an artist refuses to accept a fee below the requested amount, they are invited to add their name to a list of Certified wagents, made public online.

In many professional fields, the concept of negotiating a fee for services is standard operating procedure. But, in the fields of visual and performing arts, it is less common. The mission of wagency is to defang the process by standardizing and depersonalizing it. Unlike a union, wagency does not promote collective bargaining, nor does it employ representatives to oversee and mediate negotiations. Instead, it is a campaign of self-regulation and mutual accountability. As a workforce, artists are heterogeneous and atomized, working with many different institutions in the course of their careers. Artists who sign up will have to negotiate on their own behalfs, with the blind hope that others are doing the same. The question is whether there are enough artists who are determined to see their names among those of other wagents or who will make collaboration integral to their artistic practices. And there’s the question of how receptive arts organizations will be to these demands.

In Kenny’s experience, artists' paths to financial success, or at least to financial stability, are limited and rarely discussed in educational settings. “In the United States, it seems there are these archetypal tracks,” he said. “One of which is that you come out the gate, do some shows, meet some dealers, get representation in at least one major city and then in several other cities, and you just continue to build up your collector base.” That option is most readily available to painters, whose work can be bought and resold rapidly. Other mediums tend not to circulate in the market at the same pace. The dealer-and-gallery route can be volatile, and there’s a delicate balance between finding success and becoming too attractive to collectors. (The Web site lists artists, ticker-tape-like, in categories of “buy” and “sell.” “It’s super brutal,” Kenny said.) The other track is teaching. “You get an M.F.A., work as a visiting artist or teaching fellow, then become an adjunct professor for at least five years, then assistant and then associate and then full professor, and then try to get tenure,” Kenny explained. There are alternatives, such as working in a museum or gallery, or as a high-school teacher, but, to survive, most artists push their work in the direction of one of the two main tracks. If standardized fees could be expected when exhibiting work or participating in public programming, a more reliable support system might be established.

Though wage’s philosophy is most aligned with Wages for Housework, the nineteen-seventies feminist movement that campaigned for compensation for childcare and housework, the organization is also part of a lineage of artists who have attempted to organize themselves. In the early seventies, artists’ contracts developed by the art dealer Seth Siegelaub and the Art Workers’ Coalition (A.W.C.) proposed a configuration much like the music industry’s royalties system, in which the exhibition and resale of a work continue to benefit and be controlled by the artist. Those initiatives arose out of the politics of the sixties and ended up being most successful as consciousness-raising acts. The art critic Lucy Lippard, a member of the A.W.C., wrote a reflection on the organization in 1970. “More important than any of our ‘concrete’ achievements,” she wrote, “is the fact that whether or not we are popular for it, the Coalition has brought up issues that American artists (since the 1930s) have failed to confront together, issues concerning the dignity and value of art and artist in a world that often thinks neither has either.” On measuring success, she wrote, “If the American artist looks with increased awareness at his shows, sales, conferences, contracts as an autonomous and independent member, even mover, of his own system, the AWC has made sense.”

Over the years , Canada’s carfac, Germany’s Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin (BBK), Spain’s Unión de Asociaciones de Artistas Visuales, England’s Artist’s Union, Australia's National Association for the Visual Arts, and Sweden’s MU Agreement, among others, have proposed fee standards and organized themselves around defending the rights of artists. Institutional critique has become an art-historical category unto itself, and young artists are taking it upon themselves to develop their own individual strategies to receive compensation. The artist Cameron Rowland has established a rental contract for his work, so that the work remains his property while it is exhibited and included in museum collections. He has been successful in getting nonprofit organizations and museums to abide by his terms.

There are many artists on wage’s board. Andrea Fraser, the board’s president, directly addressed artist exploitation in a performance piece, in 2003, in which she sold herself to the highest bidder. On the phone from Los Angeles, Fraser emphasized that what separates wage from its predecessors is its focus on a fee-for-service model, in which simply choosing to participate in an arts organization’s programming and exhibitions justifies compensation. “But,” she clarified, “I don’t really see wage as following a model of trade-union development. It seems to me closer to the model of a professional guild. Professional fields have developed standards and codes of ethics and other mechanisms to protect their legitimacy and to protect the public trust in professionals. It’s on the basis of those internal standards and codes of ethics that professional fields won the right to self-regulate.”

Fraser told me that she thinks wage’s interests, while inspired by the A.W.C. and other initiatives, are specific to the twenty-first century. “When the Art Worker’s Coalition was working, there were three or four museums in New York that they had to focus on.” Since the late sixties and early seventies, she explained, “that field has become a kind of industry. It has become a sector of society that has a huge economic base. It has an extensive division of labor with many different levels of professionalization.” Each of these, she pointed out, has standards of operation, including the American Association of Museum Directors’ code of ethics and standards for compensation, museum rules for accessioning and deaccessioning, and standards adhered to by registrars, conservators, librarians, and archivists. Even curatorial work has been professionalized, with the proliferation of curatorial degree programs. “It exploded into a whole discourse and field of study,” Fraser said. “And it’s all based on the work of artists—on the contributions of artists providing content for these exhibitions. But,” she laughed at the irony, “artists are the only ones who don’t get paid in many cases.”

Because artists tend to be concerned with their autonomy and wage will not be bargaining collectively, wagency’s tactic is potentially a weak one, as it attempts to enact a boycott on an individual basis. Artists will have to overcome an ingrained opportunistic outlook and determine whether they should refuse to participate. Fraser insists, “Being compensated for one’s work is not the same thing as reducing one’s work and its value to economic value.” The New Yorker


Overlooked in Atlanta, Black Female Artists Try Miami

Grace Kisa’s whimsical sculpture, “Love is an Open Door,” features two blue porcelain faces, one with a bluebird on its head, atop brass candlestick bodies. This is her signature — using coils, bottle caps and other unconventional materials inspired by the Kenyan tradition of creating art with found objects. But gallery owners and collectors unfamiliar with the East African aesthetic have closed their doors, she said, calling her sculptures spooky voodoo dolls.

Angela Davis Johnson got a similar response when she showed curators her paintings, which almost always feature black women and fabrics to pay homage to her seamstress mother. One, “An open mouth creek,” depicts a black girl with sad eyes and blue hair whose mouth is shut — though she looks like she wants to talk. It’s a piece that speaks to the silencing of black women throughout history. Ms. Johnson has been told that her work is too political and that she should stay away from race-related issues if she wants to be commercially viable.

“I was told once to focus on black women in a church setting because that is what buyers love,” Ms. Davis Johnson recalled.

Rejections and aesthetic misunderstandings are walls many black female artists must regularly scale when they seek to make art their full-time vocation and secure gallery representation. According to a study conducted in 2018 by artnet News and In Other Words, since 2008 only 2.4 percent of acquisitions and gifts at 30 major American museums were works by African-American artists. And even in Atlanta, with a population that is 52.3 percent black, there are just a few galleries eager to show work by black women.

Recently, to connect with curators and prospective buyers, 10 female artists tried something dramatic and different: underrepresented in Atlanta, they headed to Art Basel Miami Beach, hoping to get their break at one of the most dynamic, diverse art events in the country.

“We’ve seen a lot of black women exhibit their work here, but not on the level of their white peers,” said Tiffany LaTrice, the owner of TILA Studios, an art studio and exhibition space for African-American women in the working-class East Point suburb, who organized the women’s Miami trip.

In Atlanta, she pointed out, emerging female artists are often funneled into “entry-level shows that aren’t really curated.”

“They have to wait a longer time than their peers,” she said, “so they’re usually older when they hit their stride and I don’t think it has to be that way.”

Ms. LaTrice has made it her mission to change that. Several months ago she contacted Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (known as PAMM), a contemporary art museum, about presenting the women’s work and hosting a brunch during fair week. While Mr. Sirmans was unfamiliar with Ms. LaTrice’s group, he has had his eye on Atlanta as an epicenter of black culture since he studied at Morehouse College there.

With sponsorships and crowd funding support, the group headed to Miami. In addition to Ms. Johnson and Ms. Kisa, it included the painters Ariel Dannielle, Ebony Black and Sachi Rome; the multimedia artists Christa David and Shon Pittman; the graphic artists Ayanna Smith and Jasmine Nicole Williams; and the photographer Evelyn Quiñones. Their work would be on display on video screens at PAMM during Art Basel.

Kate Atwood, executive director of ChooseATL, a program of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, acknowledged that the city had a long way to go before it could compete with New York and Los Angeles in creating a supportive ecosystem for artists. (ChooseATL followed the artists’ journeys to Art Basel Miami Beach on its streaming channel, THEA.) “We need to make sure that we’re not losing that talent anymore,” Ms. Atwood said.

Signs of progress made by nonwhite artists have filled the news, from rising museum acquisitions to new curatorial positions to the top prices gained recently in auctions. Yet African-American artists and curators interviewed for this article said progress comes slowly, with many barriers to success. According to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau there are 50 art galleries for a city of nearly 500,000 people — in a state that bounces between 48th and 50th in arts funding.

The artists spoke of limited access to the city’s cultural gatekeepers, who are mostly white. In addition, many black women who are the primary breadwinners for their families cannot afford the studio fees, ranging up to $1,000 per month, that would grant them access to a peer network.

An artist herself, Ms. LaTrice, 29, understands their struggles. Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., she moved to New York and then to Atlanta after earning her master’s degree in women’s history from Sarah Lawrence College. She had no network or connections before she formed TILA. Today her studio trains women how to write a strong artist statement, develop a CV and shoot their work professionally, not just on an iPhone. Her studio is a resource “so they don’t feel alone,” she said.

Ms. Kisa, 50, a full-time artist with a home studio, wistfully recalled the 1990s as a golden age, with the arrival of the National Black Arts Festival drawing talent from all over the world to sell their work. “To be able to walk down the aisle and see work that I saw on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ or ‘The Steve Harvey Show’ — that show was more than a market, it was a cultural experience,” Ms. Kisa said. She added that day care centers brought children to the fair to see the work of the artists — and “they’d go, ‘Girls can draw?’”

When the predominantly white-owned galleries in the upscale Buckhead district did show the work of black artists, “they might have one male and one female,” Ms. Kisa said — something, artists point out, that hasn’t changed much. A handful of black-owned galleries opened to meet the demand of clients looking for African-American artists, but many went out of business after the financial crisis in 2008. And so artists like Ms. Kisa have sought alternative venues, traveling to Jazz Fest in New Orleans to find buyers, but watching the cost of a booth, lodging and transportation slash profits.

Even if Ms. Kisa finds representation by a top-tier gallery in Atlanta, the standard commission is 50 percent, and her prices are not currently high enough to justify splitting profits with the gallery.

Alan Avery, a gallery owner here for nearly 40 years, said he’s looking to represent work with “archival potential,” made with materials “that can go into a museum and hold up over time” — but not all emerging artists can afford expensive materials.

Of 42 artists on his roster, two are black women (he exhibits and sells work by Kara Walker and represents Fabiola Jean-Louis, a photographer whose work addresses the historical treatment of black women from past centuries).

Mr. Avery said that he didn’t mind work that deals with difficult subjects like race, but said that for the first 25 years of his career, African-American artists brought work to him that reinforced stereotypes. “Every painter was doing black men with big lips blowing trumpets,” he said. “They were doing it to appeal to what they thought was the art buyer.” He added, “You have someone come along like Fabiola or Michi Meko, and they’re having some of the same conversation about race, but from a different perspective.”

Arnika Dawkins, one of the city’s few black female gallery owners, said that she did not show any of the kind of work that Mr. Avery described. She opened her gallery in a predominantly African-American, middle-class neighborhood in southwestern Atlanta in 2012 and exhibits fine art photography on subjects related to African-American history and current events.

But the stereotype conundrum is familiar to Brenda Fannin, who opened her Buckhead gallery four years ago after leaving a successful executive career at Verizon and Microsoft. The work she shows by artists of color is mostly abstract. “Am I being embraced by black collectors? No,” Ms. Fannin said, adding that her taste is not what they expect. On the other hand, she says, white art collectors are not willing to buy from a black gallery owner either. “We fear what we don’t know,” she added.

Ms. Quiñones, 47, who is Afro-Latina, said she had grappled with isolation since she moved here from New York. “There have been times when people will say to me ‘you’re black’ and another person will say ‘she’s not black, she speaks Spanish,’ and they only consider black to be African-American, but black is worldwide.”

Her work focuses on people who are ignored. One photo, of a homeless woman on Peachtree Street, is now a part of Fulton County’s permanent collection, but translating those wins into a living hasn’t happened yet (she has a day job as a graphic designer). Finding a peer network seemed impossible until she joined Sistagraphy, a collective of black women photographers.

In Miami, at the brunch at PAMM, 250 black women artists gathered, and Ms. Quiñones watched her work streaming on a video screen. She described the experience as “empowering and inspiring,” and connected with artists she had long admired, including the multimedia artist Firelei Báez, from the Dominican Republic.

“The most valuable thing has been bonding with other women artists,” Ms. Quiñones said. “This experience has given me the confidence to experiment more and work on the ideas that I have been holding onto into my head.”

So, did an appearance at Art Basel Miami Beach propel any of their careers? It’s too soon to tell.

For Ms. Davis Johnson, 37, the trip to Miami offered exposure to a global audience.

“I’ve been wanting to go to Art Basel for years but there’s always been a barrier, whether it’s with my children or finances,” said Ms. Johnson, who is a single mother to a 6-year-old and 4-year-old. She calls her children “museum babies” and brought them to the fair with her.

She found the streets of Miami draped with art by people from all around the world, and explained that just being in that creative space could make all the difference for her career trajectory.

“To see a room full of black women who are not only saying that they’re artists, but they’re living it — people I admired for so long — it was perfection,” Ms. Davis Johnson said. “People were talking about motherhood, being an art professional and the dedication it takes. I feel my craft, how I approach work, has shifted because of the works that I’ve seen.”

Beyond the brunch, going with the group to Miami empowered her to claim a seat at the international art table, despite the barriers.

“I am not interested in waiting for someone to say yes before I can share work,” she said. “I feel like I’m going to walk away from this experience broader, and with a deeper drive to make work that is illuminating us.” The New York Times