A Fundraiser That Also Promotes Collecting of Contemporary Art by Local Artists.
Hallwalls' primary objective in organizing its first benefit auction in 17 years--which, after a year and a half of planning, finally takes place this Thursday evening, 6 PM, in Asbury Hall at Babeville--is to raise much-needed funds in this most challenging of years for all nonprofit arts groups. This year's gala 35th-anniversary auction takes the place of the usually annual Artists & Models Affair as Hallwalls' major fundraiser of the year, but only for this year. (Artists & Models will return in 2010. The next auction isn't planned until 2024!)
But of equal long-term importance to Hallwalls' mission is a very conscious secondary goal of kick-starting and encouraging an ongoing habit in Buffalonians of collecting the sophisticated, world-class contemporary art being produced by the large community of contemporary visual artists who live and work in Buffalo, including many who have studios or live-work lofts in rehabilitated industrial spaces like Buffalo Arts Studios (at Tri-Main Center), Artspace Lofts, or the Essex Street complex where Hallwalls was born nearly 35 years ago. Many pieces in Thursday's auction are by nationally renowned artists, Toronto artists who have exhibited at Hallwalls, or artists from Buffalo who now live and work in New York City or elsewhere. But the vast majority of donated works are by artists still living and working in Buffalo.
"There's a lot more cutting edge contemporary art being created here in Buffalo than there is collecting," says Hallwalls Executive Director Ed Cardoni. "We're hoping the high-profile nature of this auction with its 100-page full-color catalog and attendant publicity will expose more potential collectors to the incredible quantity and, more importantly, quality of contemporary art being produced by Buffalo's nationally recognized visual arts community.
"So many first-rate artists live and make work in Buffalo, graduate from and teach in its colleges and even its high schools, and work in its nonprofit arts institutions, as well as all kinds of other day jobs, even more than the dozens we could fit into a single evening's auction. And now there is finally a critical mass of commercial galleries springing up in places like Allentown, where these artists can actually sell their work. We have the great nonprofit institutions of modern and contemporary art like the Albright-Knox, Burchfield Penney, UB Art Galleries, Castellani Art Museum, CEPA, and Hallwalls itself that have tuned Buffalo in to currents in contemporary art. The last piece we need to complete the picture and really make all this creative activity flourish and keep our most talented home-grown artists (and graduating art students) from leaving Buffalo is a culture of collecting contemporary art.
"For example, we need all the people now moving into downtown lofts and condos (in addition to the artists themselves, of course) to buy the work of Buffalo's contemporary artists to put on those stylish walls. Because the caliber of work being made here by contemporary artists is as strong as in any major art center, even New York City or L.A., and stronger than in many cities much larger than Buffalo, such as Chicago, or my hometown of Boston."
In addition to promoting contributing artists' work with the printed catalog and on-line auction gallery, Hallwalls has collected and posted links to the artists' web sites (for those who have them), or to other web sites featuring their work.
"Of course we hope the few collectors of contemporary art we do have in Buffalo, as well as novice or aspiring collectors, will start getting into the collecting habit by purchasing works from our auction this Thursday night. But we are really pushing the idea that after Thursday people should continue visiting small commercial galleries and artists' studios to add to their collections in the future, in a way that will support all this amazing contemporary art-making activity in a sustainable way over the long haul.
Below are web links to the work of most Buffalo (and former Buffalo) artists participating in Hallwalls' 35th-Anniversary Benefit Auction and featured in the auction gallery:
Bruce Adams, Chuck Agro, Laylah Ali, Meredith Allen, Joanna Angie, Roberley Bell, Diane Bertolo, Ellen Carey, Millie Chen, Charles Clough, Kara Daving, Jackie Felix, A.J. Fries, Hans Gindlesberger, Megan Greene, Duayne Hatchett, Biff Henrich, Tom Holt, Ani Hoover, Bryan Hopkins, George "Afedzi" Hughes, Bruce Jackson, Jed Jackson, Eric M. Jensen, Jacob Kassay, Kevin Kegler, Becky Koenig, Catherine Catanzaro Koenig, Mark Lavatelli, Daniel Levine, Joan Linder, Polly Little, Joshua R. Marks, Gerald Mead, Lillian Méndez, Julian Montague, Nathan W. Naetzker, Gary Nickard, Nancy J. Parisi, John Pfahl, Ann Pibal, Alberto Rey, Barbara Rowe, Christy Rupp, Kathleen A. Sherin, Catherine Linder Spencer, Chrysanne Stathacos, Ellen Steinfeld, Peter Sowiski, Rodney Taylor, Virocode, Alfonso Volo, Kurt Von Voetsch, Patty Wallace, Adam Weekley, Jacqueline Welch, Laylah Ali, Nancy Dwyer, Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman.
Top image: "Weatherform" by Duayne Hatchett, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 22 x 1,25 in., 1978, $800 - 3,200. Hatchett is currently showing at the Burchfield-Penney Arts Center.