Portland art blog + news + exhibition reviews + galleries + contemporary northwest art

recent entries

Early September Links
Labor Day Weekend Picks
Museumy Links
Wendy Given at Vernissage
Mid August Links
Grace Kook-Anderson in Conversation
Portland Art Adventures
Early August Art News
August must see picks
End of July News
Alia Ali's Borderland at Bluesky
Mid Summer Reads

recent comments




Book Review
Calls for Artists
Design Review
Openings & Events
About PORT

regular contributors


Tori Abernathy
Amy Bernstein
Katherine Bovee
Emily Cappa
Patrick Collier
Arcy Douglass
Megan Driscoll
Jesse Hayward
Sarah Henderson
Jeff Jahn
Kelly Kutchko
Drew Lenihan
Victor Maldonado
Christopher Moon
Jascha Owens
Alex Rauch
Gary Wiseman



Guest Contributors
Past Contributors
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005

contact us


Contact us






powered by


Movable Type 3.16

This site is licensed under a


Creative Commons License

Wednesday 06.22.05

« Politicking and the Market | Main | July is marvy in June »

Blood or Art?


It isn't always an easy choice and I'm certain Tim Dalbow is kidding, but this little email excerpt is too good:

"Thanks for. . . .the mention of my blue balls (civic art project), but I'm already on to a new project designed for the nonprofit bleeding of poor artists for donations. If you haven't already heard I want to supply solicitation with pints (ouch) of my own blood. It costs me no money and it's a renewable resource!" -TSD

It does touch a nerve regarding Portland's now too frequent tendency to raise money for nonprofit organizations through art auctions. It is as if the artists are some eternally milkable cow. Yes, like Rumplestiltskin, artists are capable of spinning straw into gold but that colorful character didn't fare too well in that bargain either.

We should note that most of the auctions are noble and help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for good causes but at best it is getting tired and at worst it seems vampiric. I think auctions should be rare and for emergencies, not long-term funding strategies. Any thoughts?

Posted by Jeff Jahn on June 22, 2005 at 20:24 | Comments (5)


Jeff wrote:
"We should note that most of the auctions are noble and help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for good causes but at best it is getting tired and at worst it seems vampiric. I think auctions should be rare and for emergencies, not long-term funding strategies."

I agree, especially when it comes to art auctions in support of art institutions. Rather than requesting the art be donated by artists, they should be selling the art and sharing the proceeds with the artists. Art institutions should be creating new collectors, not just offering great deals to those who already collect.

On the other hand, non-profits such as Cascade AIDS Project, shouldn't hesitate to ask for donations from artists. And events like TJ Norris's 100x100 make sense because galleries showing consistently cutting edge emerging work in Portland always operate at a loss.

The lesson seems to be:
If you enjoy the work but don't support the artists they will find support in cities where people DO buy work (and not just by % for art committee).

Posted by: MOR [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 22, 2005 09:01 PM

Cheers to that MOR! This protocol of starving non-profits, artists, and small galleries has got to go. If the charm of this city is its creative class, I expect people to put their money with their mouth is and support those that are making it happen. Otherwise, we're just another small city oozing with yuppies and Regal cinemas. Culture doesn't come without a price and if people aren't willing to pay for it here it will move on to greener pastures. I'm tired of artists being asked to give themselves away. When is the last time a non-profit called the phone company and asked them to donate their services? They always manage to find the funds to pay those bills. Artists work hard and put themselves out there all the time. We need to be dreaming up new cycles of abundance where everyone gets paid (with a few tax write-offs here and there). That goes for the non-profits themselves and small galleries, too. If you like what this city has to offer, don't talk about it over a PBR or your Bluehour martini, go to an event, buy a piece of artwork, become a member of an organization, make a donation. Do something tangible to support what you value because at the end of the day, all that chatter isn't going to pay the bills. We live in an amazing city but it's time to make the commitment to build a vibrant, sustainable arts community where everybody makes a living.

Posted by: jenn [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 22, 2005 10:09 PM

Every art institution operates within an ecology, a community. If the institution wants money, it will be most successful if it finds something people desire and will fund accordingly.

The advantage of a group auction or show is that the artists themselves come by, with their friends. A group show too will have a variety of aesthetics, drawing a broader audience.

Auctions are a legitimate studio cleaning strategy, but the staff of the institutions are often doing better than the artists. So the equation for the artist is what will the donation or partial donation do for my career and my relationship with my customers. Commissions like TJ's are sort of like prints, lesser value=more affordable work made available to a broader audience.

Institutions have to offer value for value and being spared from guilt in exchange for a donation of art or money is not good value. So I would say I'm half agreeing and trying to sharpen the debate!

Posted by: niceart [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2005 12:14 AM

Ah yes, Nice, I know it's not as simple as my romantic notions propose it might be. I'm not even opposed to auctions, per se, I'm more just tired of this martyr model that creeps in with artists and arts-based institutions. Even as young gallery owner, it pops up all the time. I think there are other options and I assert that we all have a right to get paid for our work. That doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with in-kind donations, I'm just noting, in response to Jeff and Tim's comments, that auctions are not the only funding option and that artists should develop their own guidelines and boundaries for how much they are willing to donate and under what terms so that they don't start to feel "blood-drained". And, there's no reason they should be expected to contribute any more than any other working professional in town, which is too often the case. I still stand by my original assertion that there are ways to build a sustainable culture (with viable businesses and institutions) where everyone is paid their due, without relying on guilt, martyrdom or a model of scarcity.

Posted by: jenn [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2005 01:27 AM

Jen, you make a great point in encouraging people who like the work and like the city and the art scene to not just talk about it over a drink but to invest in it. Investing in it can mean many things.

But just to continue with the martini example...I'm always shocked by how many people don't blink at spending $100 on a night of dinner drinking and going out but think local art is out of their reach.

I still think this has something to do with a need to teach our friends that it's OK to collect art. They don't need to wait until they own a home or have a particular sort of life. Most of what makes Portland an interesting art scene is that the artists and gallerists didn't wait until they reached a certain point before showing and opening galleries that challenge the status quo.

At some point kids learned it was OK to spend $200 on jeans and $100 on a night out but they haven't figured out that they can start to collect great work in the same price range.

Perhaps it should start with an all out effort to make it "terribly uncool" to have anything decorating your apartment that wasn't made by a person. The end of Ikea art, the beginning of a new collector base.

Posted by: MOR [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 23, 2005 09:18 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

s p o n s o r s
Site Design: Jennifer Armbrust   •   Site Development: Philippe Blanc & Katherine Bovee