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Friday 05.11.07

« Urban Honking's New Talks | Main | Hereto, Where Art Thou? (by TJ Norris) »

CAP

The annual Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) art auction and benefit is happening this Saturday, May 12, at the Oregon Convention Center's Portland Ballroom. Unfortunately, the success of this event tends to undermine the local art market by fostering bottom-line art pricing. CAP would do Portland's art community a great service by broadening the range of objects beyond art in its auction, leaving only those artists who are able to sell above gallery prices. This would hopefully also set a good example for the imitators who have followed CAP's success- although CAP does sometimes set new price points, smaller auctions tend to be even more guilty of subverting the Portland art market.


Posted by Megan Driscoll on May 11, 2007 at 10:25 | Comments (23)


Comments

This event doesn't undermine anything. Artists rarely give their best or new work. Most offer drafts, studies, prints, and works that nobody wanted at full price. Take a look at the catalog and tell me that you haven't these pieces before?

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 11, 2007 01:56 PM

Many artists DO want to give a substantial piece. After all, it has a chance to be printed in a color catalogue or used in promotional materials. More importantly, the work will get in front of whoever is curating the show that particular year, and CAP has worked with some great curators. Not to mention the crowds who actually go to the event. For some artists, this may be the only way they can get their work in front of some of those patrons.

(...It is possible that you've seen the pieces before, because they were exhibited previously, but this doesn't lessen the value of a work.)

This auction unfortunately doesn't drive prices up. Works cheaper than usual are available and there are plenty of collectors know it. So, the outcome can definitely be that the artist gives away what they consider an important work which will not sell for market value. Having said all this, CAP has done a lot of good things and this event is like an annual Rites of Spring here.

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 11, 2007 02:38 PM

A lot of artists have boycotted the event unless personally asked by someone from CAP (which is tough to turn down.. and they just give the crappiest/smallest thing they can). After years of this dynamic a lot of the art making community is really burnt out on auctions here.

The fact that a bargain hunting atmosphere persists is a problem with ANY art auction no matter what cause because it isnt maximizing donations dollars or good will.

It's a charity event and Portlanders shouldnt expect to be getting things for a steal. Amongst some collectors it a well known fact they wait for the CAP auction so they can buy things well below gallery prices.

It matters not if the work has been seen before, that sort of thing isnt good for an artist or their gallery. If CAP (or any other charity) wants better work they should do something to change the culture of the event. Other auctions in town have been way worse than CAP though.

Sure, Ive seen a 2500 Sean Healy go for 8000 but that was a live auction item and the exception rather than the rule.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 11, 2007 06:04 PM

The above arguments against artists participating in auctions are valid as general points, but I think they pale in comparison to the importance of fighting a devastating disease in our community. Most artists don't have the resources to give to charity in any other manner....I'm sure many are quite happy to have the opportunity to contribute regardless of any minor effects on the market value of their work.

Posted by: Jessica Bromer [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 11, 2007 07:58 PM

I don't think anyone is questioning the cause, just the execution. A lot of artists who used to participate no longer do. That reality has nothing to do wth the cause... simply the way the artists are asked to contribute in the fundraising effort. It's a very valid issue and a sore spot in the Portland art community. For the health of CAP I hope they address it.

A few years ago one artist offered to give pints of blood instead of work, he was only half-kidding.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2007 01:24 PM

I think JJ is right about the execution - and also, the involvement of CAP with artists the rest of the year. Do they go to openings of artists, support artists who support them? I've never seen/met any of the CAP people at the galleries I have worked at or shown at. At some point, it helps to have a mutual interest.

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 12, 2007 07:37 PM

You miss the point of the CAPS auction.

This is not meant to be a Christie's/Sotheby�s auction. Nor is it a fund raiser for the local (fill in the blank) where you get three hours of kitchen tile re-grouting and cruises up the gorge for bid along with armature water colors.

The value of a work of art is an intrinsic. People are dying; the value of a human life is intrinsic. There�s a symmetry here.

Most of the artists are listed North West artists and the work presented is held to a high standard. (No sand castles�are you ripping off every six year old who ever went to the beach? Is that it?)

Another comment here is very true. The work isn�t of the first tier that you�d see in our gallery/museum exhibits, but we are giving something of ourselves so that others might be saved.

Posted by: monky999 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 14, 2007 05:38 PM

Well, well, well. I wonder how many of the writers here actually attended this weekend's festivities. Myself and colleagues from a new venture here in town were in fact there, and watched the goings-on behind-the-scenes, in the top-tier live auction. This happened outside of the confines of the more public Silent Auction, where much work went left unsold. As boisterous auctioneers prompted the wealthy balloteers, there were, in fact, really pricey flights from Lufthansa auctioned off, gold wrapped chocolates laced with gift certificates for Carl Greve bobbles hidden inside for patrons, fat steaks, and lots of video tributes, etc. What does an artist get out of participation in this and like events? How much goes to the overhead and how much to "charity"? These are worthy questions, yes? That's the way things are served over at BRILLOBOX.

Girls, take it away!

Posted by: Norma Dee Plume [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 15, 2007 10:11 AM

4-year donator to the CAP auction with my thoughts. CAP is in the business of supporting the community of those with AIDS, so if I had AIDS i would look to them for support, otherwise I don't consider them under obligation to support my art or the art community in general. I volunteer to donate art and understand that it is at my discretion, thus in no way feel taken advantage of by CAP.

I do indeed donate work that 'didn't sell.' If you look at the obverse side of that statement you'll see it's kind of a silly thing to carp about in regards to the quality of donations CAP receives. Personally, if I wouldn't hang a piece publicly I wouldn't donate it, and those that engage in that must not care about their audience.

Both the live and silent auctions are curated, so presumably CAP isn't presenting work that they consider second-tier either, plus isn't the enjoyment of art subjective? One viewer's second-tier may be something else to someone who bids on it, regardless of the 75%-of-value starting bid.

I also don't think the opportunity to bid on only one piece by any particular artist does much to dilute the overall art buying scene in Portland. Most serious collectors probably consider the auction a fun adjunct to their regular buying habits.

It seems like there are maybe better targets in the regional art scene than a charity auction.

Plus this year they had a hosted bar! Woot!

Posted by: stateparks [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 15, 2007 11:19 AM

This was brought up because it is a huge issue in the art community, most of whom feel they cant speak out about it (which adds further frustration).

The fact is there have been years of growing grumbles.... that doesnt mean that CAP isnt a good thing. They arent so much a target as a paradigm that is being addressed.

The real issue is simply one of execution and yes fostering an atmosphere that encourages quality. By shifting from seconds to "fewer but more significant works" it will help everyone, including CAP. It's part of a collecting attitude adjustment that needs to happen in Portland... competition at auctions should be maximized.

Because so many artists treat the event as an opportunity to jettison unwanted works it is having a counter effect. There is a slight but significantly broad backlash in a community that needs to raise prices to support the artists living in an increasingly more expensive city. For the multitude of less known artists seeking attention there are ways the event could be used to further highlight new talent. Portland is growing up and these things need to be looked at.

Call this a gentle nudge. I think CAP is a great cause and Im certain CAP will take notice of this and make more adjustments... for once Im not so much airing my own concerns as the concerns of many who feel they cant speak out.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 15, 2007 11:51 AM

I have bought work at the CAP auction. (I have also bought bargains at another unnamed benefit.) An auction creates new collectors.

The CAP auction is marketing for the artists (and galleries). The reasons have been mentioned: the work is seen by a powerful curator, it's often in a catalog, local art buyers see it.

If you feel the marketing value is worth it, participate, if not, don't.

Want to amp it up, CAP? Include biographical information on the artists and promote the auction outside Portland. Better PR.

Posted by: Criticaleye-notpen [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 15, 2007 05:53 PM

Good point there my man.... they do create new collectors and I think its good for some artists trying to get a leg up (auctions can create momentum). By increasing biographical info the auctions could be more educational for new collectors as well.

Artists with developed markets have somewhat different forces at work... and Ive already brought those ideas up so I wont bring them up again.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 15, 2007 11:49 PM

I'd like to remind everyone that CAPs mission for the auction is to first and foremost raise funds to support our community members suffering from aids. They are not an arts organization and should not be looked to as a leader in the development of the arts of the region. Unfortunately, I wasnt able to attend the auction due to a death in the family so cant comment more about the event, but I can extend a SINCERE THANK YOU to each and every artist who donated. I know I am not alone in recognizing both your generosity and good intentions.

This year's curator,

Jennifer Gately

Posted by: JG [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 17, 2007 11:47 AM

Thanks Jennifer, you are right of course... I dont think the cause is a source of debate but you make an important point.

Maybe the frustration stems from the fact that the highest profile art fundraising event in the city isn't for the art community. That is the art community's fault, not CAP's.

There is room for improvement all around and that is the spirit this issue wasbrought up... its natural for people to get defensive and there are real issues here.

I'm going to address a bunch of these things in an article that is nearly done.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 17, 2007 12:04 PM

There do seem to be some issues with the execution of CAP. The issues I've heard about: 1. Artists who donate to the live auction aren't given free access to the live auction. 2. While proffessional art handlers are used, untrained volunteers do the preliminary art handling when work is dropped off. 3. CAP is not great at informing artists and galleries about who has actually purchased the work, making it more difficult to build a relationship with those collectors. Obviously, CAP's priority is helping people with AIDS and HIV, as it well should be. CAP's working from an entirely different paradigm than the art community. If more people and organizations within the art community volunteered their services as advisors, liasons, art handlers, designers, preparators and all-purpose volunteers, the resulting auction would probably be much more representative of the art community's values. PICA, PAC, Disjecta, and Organism all utilize volunteers with specialized skills and have leaders who know how to organize art-focused events/fundraising efforts. Perhaps assistance from one or more of these organizations would allow CAP to focus on their more urgent priorites without alienating the artists who genuinely desire to help them.

Posted by: Jessica Bromer [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 17, 2007 07:47 PM

Wel, l Jessica, lets see about these three issues:
1.i've donated art to caps for years now and i've always watched the auction. sometimes i've been in the live and sometimes not, but no one ever stopped me, in fact, theyve been quite nice about it. you dont have an issue here.
2.how much work is damaged by the untrained handlers? one piece, two, fifty? Weve all seen professionals drop, pile up and bump things many timesnothing here eitherhmmmm
3.You can get the name etc. of the buyer of a piece with a phone call, if the buyer was willing to release that information. An artist cant be taught to use a phone? Maybe the same class that trains art handlers can include something on this.

Bottom line: If any of your three points had even the slightest validity, these are such nits and do not warrant more then about 70 seconds of consideration.

What the problem with whats happening now? 600k is not a successful auction? Of course, your friends at Disjecta or Organism have raised much, much more then that, Im sure. Not to mention that they use professional picture picker uppers and put over there people. Are they union?

.Youve got nothing to bitch about.

Posted by: monky999 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 21, 2007 07:40 PM

Monky,

Maybe my posts weren't clear enough, so I'll try again:

Post 1: "The above arguments against artists participating in auctions are valid as general points, but I think they pale in comparison to the importance of fighting a devastating disease in our community. Most artists don't have the resources to give to charity in any other manner....I'm sure many are quite happy to have the opportunity to contribute regardless of any minor effects on the market value of their work."

(Translation: Fighting AIDS is a zillion times more important than the topic of the original post--the effect on the donated artworks' market value. I respectfully disagree with the focus of the announcement of the CAP auction on PORT .)

Post 2: "There do seem to be some issues with the execution of CAP. The issues I've heard about: 1. Artists who donate to the live auction aren't given free access to the live auction. 2. While proffessional art handlers are used, untrained volunteers do the preliminary art handling when work is dropped off. 3. CAP is not great at informing artists and galleries about who has actually purchased the work, making it more difficult to build a relationship with those collectors. Obviously, CAP's priority is helping people with AIDS and HIV, as it well should be. CAP's working from an entirely different paradigm than the art community. If more people and organizations within the art community volunteered their services as advisors, liasons, art handlers, designers, preparators and all-purpose volunteers, the resulting auction would probably be much more representative of the art community's values. PICA, PAC, Disjecta, and Organism all utilize volunteers with specialized skills and have leaders who know how to organize art-focused events/fundraising efforts. Perhaps assistance from one or more of these organizations would allow CAP to focus on their more urgent priorites without alienating the artists who genuinely desire to help them."

(Translation: In response to my original post, a few people have told me about issues they had with CAP that have made them think twice about continuing a relationship. They are minor points that could easily be remedied the way any minor problems with a nonprofit can be remedied; more people who might be able to solve them should volunteer. Essentially, I'm suggesting that if Jeff feels this strongly about the problems with the CAP auction, he should take action in more ways than the avenue he's chosen thus far--blogging about it....and that it would be great if other organizations that are in a position to help did so as well. I'd love to see the auction take place at a beautifully appointed venue like PAC, rather than the convention center. Of course everyone's got their plates full or nearly full and there could be a million logistical reasons that might prevent that particular idea from working out, but I though I'd throw it out there all the same. There are some situations where simply discussing problems is enough to jumpstart a resolution, and some where words need to be followed by actions if they are to have any weight. In my opinion, any problems that may exist with the CAP auction fall into the latter category.)

I'm 100% supportive of CAP and brought those issues up only as a way of pointing out where specific types of help may be needed. I regret if my last post lead anyone to believe otherwise.


Posted by: Jessica Bromer [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 21, 2007 09:40 PM

Jessica,

I think your comments were clear to all but the most arguementative, thanks for the clarifications.

Still, I think blogging about this has opened a dialog about improving an important event that could improve its relationship to the community whose support is crucial to its cause. Just writing about a topic can be very helpful if it creates debate (which it has).

P.S. I have taken actions other than just blogging about it (I'm never one who is just all talk).

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 22, 2007 11:45 AM

There were many obvious problems with the auction this year, and with all the discussion here and elsewhere I hope the organizers see this and take it to heart. No one is negating the charitable slant at all. But I agree with most of what Jessica summarized as some key problems. But nothing can excuse professionalism, not in the name of a non-profit hoping to raise this much money, not ever. If you are going to sell a work for $2K+ have the handling and whole operation as pro as the glamour of the actual evening and its festivities. Artists donating outright for this ought to be treated with respect at every turn, shouldn't be relegated to 2nd class citizens in the process. There are many like auctions across the country benefitting similar causes where artists do retain a percentage of the sales, but here in Oregon all proceeds go to CAP.

The catalogue has become a "competitive" aspect of this event - and in the name of giving - seems vastly out of place. CAP would do well to partner with a saavy print house whose donation can come in the form of pro-bono printing services, to expand the catalogue to include all works donated, live and silent auction items. This is big rub for artists who donate to the event. While some "fortunate" enough like Monky999 (above) have had the "honor" of appearing inthe catalogue, others toil and donate year in and year out without documentation of their generosity. If you are in print buyers will take a closer look, especially if th catalogues get out early enough and are circulated to collectors and donors for perusal.

If you are going to have a Live Auction get some whoppers donated by emerging or established international artists like Hildur Bjarnadottir, Chris Johanson, Tony Swain, Mary Henry, Brice Marden, Vija Celmins, Vik Muniz, Doug & Mike Starn, Sophie Calle, Peter Fischli and David Weiss or regionals like Sean Healy, Jaq Chartier, Henk Pander, Robert Yoder, Linda Hutchins, Lucinda Parker, G. Lewis Clevenger, Jesse Hayward, Jeffry Mitchell, Jacqueline Ehlis, Eva Lake, Michael Brophy, Brendan Clenaghen...the list goes on.

Posted by: Norma Dee Plume [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 07:49 AM

If you're going to donate something to an event or organization, it means that you are giving something of value to be used, however necessary, to support it. If, on the other hand, you're just looking for kudo's, and a chance to schmooze and booze, you're not really "donating", in the true sense of the word. Bartering? Trading? Exchanging? Probably. Donating? Well, it's a stretch...

Posted by: Sean Casey [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 24, 2007 09:42 PM

***Warning comment removed***

We have a no troll policy. Port is not a platform for constant childish accusations.

Posted by: monky999 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 25, 2007 11:52 AM

oh-oh, someone hit a nerve...i read this whole thing and i think if you want to be in the critic business, you folks will have to grow thicker skins.

it reads like finally just took your inventory and so you just edited it out.

Posted by: george_appo [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2007 07:28 PM

hardly... It was removed because it was basically a pointless personal accusation that was already refuted and way off topic.

At PORT people can generally say what they want about bthe topic at hand... but only as long as they are civil and dont get personal. This isnt some tabloid free for all that attracts readers by appealing to baser human behavior. Also, we dont allow trolling which makes it unpleasant for readers.

Play nice or not at all is the rule.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 12, 2007 11:55 PM

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