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A+ Art Blog
PATRICIA FRISCHER, the coordinator of the San Diego Visual Arts Network, writes these occasional notes. These blogs are now available at this link where you can comment back.

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Archived A+ Art Blogs

Current and Past 2013 A+Art Blogs

State of the Arts: The Rise of the Living Artist, 2013
New Art at the SD Airportt: Flying High
San Diego Incubator for Innovation
Arts Leaders Motivations
Politics and Art in San Diego
Art Eats Food
Alternative Materials Panel Discussion - Sparks Gallery
London Art Newsletter 2013
San Diego: Identity Crisis or Identity Opportunity? March 2013
Palm Springs Art Fair, Feb, 2013
Corporate Collecting Book Review, Jan 2013

State of the Arts: The Rise of the Living Artist, 2013

Buying an art work by an emerging artist is

  • a gamble,
  • a case of love at first sight
  • a genuine commitment

Artists are not making art in San Diego to fill demand. They are passionate about making art even with few sales galleries. They continually find new and non-traditional ways to expose the public what they do. We do have is an abundance of artists who make art that is easy to like and which enhances lives. A scattering of the best make work that is full of worthy content, which often challenges the viewer.

In San Diego, we don’t seem to have too many collectors that collect just to show off their wealth. Collectors like to meet the artists. That contact can sway their purchasing decisions because of personality and likeability. We love to see collectors breaking bread with artists and not just thinking of them as investment makers.

But demand is one of the criteria that influences price. Young artist offer the fun of discovery and even the element of the gamble for very reasonable prices. Contemporary art by well know artists is out of the price range of most collectors and that is a new phenomena as we have seen auction figures for live artists skyrocket in the past few years. (Jeff Koons b.1955 sold the highest priced contemporary work this year for approx. $32 million). The amazingly good news is that all boats are rising on the tide and when the prices for contemporary art rises, it rises in all age groups.

The following are some of our most important venues in San Diego and they are showing local artists. I am delighted that this list includes a large percentage of women:

Emily Grenader, Jessica Sledge, Joe Yorky at the Athenaeum
Iana Quesnell, Jean Lowe and Doris Bittar at the Women, War and Industry exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Art
Catherin Colaw, Linda Kardoff, Allison Renshaw, Julia San Román and Cheryl Tall at the Cannon Art Gallery
Dana Montlack:: Sea of CortezThe Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
James Enos at Oceanside Museum of Art

SDVAN continues to celebrate the high quality of art in San Diego.

We have updated the 2013 Ten Top Artistand Ten Most Powerful People in the Art World.

You might want to look at our article onSeven Types of Collectorsand also Collecting Secrets Revealed , Collecting Emerging Artistsand Ten Tips for Collectors.  

Your can read all the past State of the Arts addresses by Patricia Frischer at this link.

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New Art at the SD Airportt: Flying High - please click the link to see the online version of this article which is fully illustrated.

The Art Program at the International Airport is directed by Constance White. Ms. White has brought  energy, elegance and excellence to our city. The airport is a pride and joy and the best introduction any visitor could have to our county. 

I was  lucky enough to get a guided tour of the new additions to the west of terminal two. One of the most impressive installations is that of Jim Campbell called The Journey. It stretches down the length of the gates and the lights flow and glow. I was struck by the intense detail of construction in every direction. There was such attention given to each aspect of this impressive project.

The food court is especially attractive, with multiple option from local sources but all unified in design aethetic. The giant chandelier set the tones for fine dining instead of speed eating.

The new art gallery is a true jewel in the crown for artist who are also represented by a large number of changing exhibition throughout the airport. Next year the theme for the shows will be featuring art and science combination in keeping with our own DNA of Creativity project. . In visiting a few other airports during this holiday season, it is very apparent how shining and new our own is in comparison. Even the restrooms are exciting and have a true stamp of life in our fair city with ever changing video vistas. And still to come are two special rooms - one a media installation and a meditation room, plus a few more surprises yet to be revealed.

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San Diego Incubator for Innovation held their first convening of the 100 artists and scientists for this two year project to promote creativity, collaboration, and innovation. The beginning session was a "metaphorming" workshop which is basically a way to use visual metaphors created out of a variety of collage materials to gain insights about a topic of choice. In this case it is water innovation in San Diego.

Ronnie Das  is one of these volunteers and he is an advocate who makes films in support of various environmental issues like the one on the greening of Balboa Park Institutes. He sees the arts as a way to communicate about these topics but we are hoping to see the artists as more than illustrators. By combining artists and scientist at the beginning of the project, the idea is to track the value that the arts bring to a project. There will be hard data gathered at the end of the project so that we can see how STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) is an economic driver. Ronnie is also interested in seeing how the art and science labs can be combined to accommodate both disciplines.

The first meeting was also a way to let all 100 “fellows” start to get to know each other. This is a unique cross-sector, multidisciplinary group of adventurous learners from both sides of the border, and of all age group including teens and professors eager to collaborate and innovate, targeting our regional challenge of water supply and demand.

It was a pleasure to see Judit Hersko from CSU San Marcos as a fellow working along side of those who may have never worked in this area. Shifting Baselines was an art and science project displayed at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido in 2006 which was one of her first forays into this area with her students.

Lynn Susholtz from Art Produce Gallery was present and she will be a future session teacher and perhaps host for a part of the project. Hamsa Thota will also be teaching a component based of his professional skills as an innovation performance manager. He told me the most amazing story of how he learned from a cultural experience in Africa how to empathize with his audience and make connections with them on a level he never experiences using just his linear thinking process.

 This San Diego group is one of three tackling problems chosen city by city. Chicago has picked food insecurity and will start in January and Wooster will begin about three months later.  Just as the DNA of Creativity project of SDVAN is nearing completion (showing results at the Oceanside Museum of Art starting in Feb 2014), this much larger project should assure San Diego’s reputation as a hub for collaboration between the arts and sciences.   

In an other project funded by BMW and shown at the  Guggenheim Lab, featuring 100 city trends, the Water Bench was one creative solution for water shortage in Mumbai which has monsoons but then suffers from lack of water during other parts of the year.  What real products will the Innovation Incubators discover?  We shall see in the next few years. 

There will be a chance for the public to join future workshops on Dec 14. More information from Nan Renner, who is the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership coordinator and from Art of Science Learning, a program of funded by the National Science Foundation led by Harvey Seifter.

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Arts Leaders Motivations

SDVAN Networking Meeting: Wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and dreamin’.

We started with the premise that we need more art leaders to make sure that all the wonderful projects generated over the last 10 years of brainstorming actually happen.. Simply put: What do we need to do to encourage more project leaders to launch more creative visual arts projects in SD?

The group was divided into two. Everyone was asked to look at a half glass of water and declare if it was half full or half empty

The Half Full group was asked to put on a critical hat and come up with 5 major things that are keeping people from being arts leaders

The Half Empty group was asked to be positive about 5 major things that would encourage people to be arts leaders.

Ten minutes for allocated for this exercise. Both groups were asked to narrow their list to 5 major categories.

What stops art leaders? – Half full participants: Karen, Angela, Naomi, Naimeh, Ellen, Marti and Diane

Mind set, lack of confidence, fear of failure
Money – paycheck and expenses
Lack of Time – spread too thin
Lack of support – communication with artists and/or team
Fear of inadequate Collaboration and/or no knowledge of how to collaborate, desire for nurturing

How could arts leaders be encouraged? Half empty participants: Naimeh, Kaz, John

Art Projects offer -
Fun and intellectual stimulation
Self growth and expansion – including monetary gain
Networking outside of your own area, expansion of knowledge base – collaborations, partnerships
Project oriented time frame i.e. task force instead of ongoing committee
Self empowerment and empowerments of others

We discussed this for 10 minutes and then each individual was asked to choose one item from the list of How could arts leaders be encouraged. But they were asked to change their mindset and instead of themselves, choose one of the following persona to think about being an art leader:

As a person 100 years in the future
As a 15 year old
As a person in a south sea island
As Marilyn Monroe
As if you had superpowers

These additional motivations were generated.

Art Projects offer -

A creative artistic expression of its leader and an opportunity to be heard
A choice to work outside of the control of the norm. Some projects are rebellious acts.
Recognition from other – self pride
A chance to develop priorities and think about urgencies of some issues
The importance of Legacy
Opportunities to be creative without resources by using volunteers, recycling and in kind donation
Utilization of the local as a route to expand globally,
A chance to be mentored and offer mentorship
Positive energy and good will – for the leader and the community = win win


We compiled this list of the 14 motivations and they seem to fall into four categories

Self fulfillment

  1. Fun and intellectual stimulation
  2. Self growth and expansion – including monetary gain
  3. Networking outside of your own area, expansion of knowledge base – collaborations, partnerships
  4. Project oriented time frame i.e. task force instead of ongoing committee
  5. Self empowerment and empowerments of others
  6. A creative artistic expression of its leader and an opportunity to be heard
  7. A choice to work outside of the control of the norm. Some projects are rebellious acts.
  8. Recognition from others – self pride
  9. A chance to develop priorities and think about urgencies of some issues
  10. The importance of Legacy
  11. Opportunities to be creative without resources by using volunteers, recycling and in kind donation
  12. Utilization of the local as a route to expand globally,
  13. A chance to be mentored and offer mentorship
  14. Positive energy and good will – for the leader and the community = win win

My husband Darwin and I then worked to see how these motivation fits those categories. At this point we had to stop using left brain list and go to a right brain circular diagram. This list could be used for a job description for a calls for an arts leaders for paid and/or volunteer projects. We might use this to attract SDVAN project leaders or it could be modified for other arts job descriptions. It was suggested that we should pass on these ideas to LEAD and other leadership projects in SD including the SD Foundation


As an example, here are the ideas generated by our imaginary 15 year old. We also had ideas from the other categories (i.e. future, island, and superpowers) except for Marilyn Monroe.

I am bored and getting into trouble, this project could be fun and keep me safe
I need something on my college application and this could help me get into the college of my choice.
If I could think of something cool, maybe I could get that gang to stop beating up on me, I need to find out what they like and want
I only have summer vacation to do this.
My mom would have to do what I said.
I could use my facebook to spread the word and even do a Kickstarter to fund it. I want everything to be interactive and use the latest technology and social media.
I like the idea of rebelling and this could be done within a project especially if it was outside of parental control.
I am young but maybe this project could last a long time and I could come back years later and see it.
I want my parents to be proud of me.
Heading a project where you can make a mess could be cool.
Can I get a date (expand my social network) though this leadership project?

One new project was suggested to enable Teens to be involved in the arts and aiding them in knowing where to go. That concept was added to the list below that was previously generated.

Curator’s prize
Rotating exhibition - museum guard, menu art, nail art, art of cooking, wedding alters 
Corporate/Private collector prize (add to art prize this year)
Art Limousine - VIPs attendance at art events
Advisory committee of PR Agency ladies
Decathlon of Art and Sport
Art Collectors Club
Mentoring of events by commissioner (delegate, councilpersons, County supervisors)
Art Ship of  Culture which travels up and down coast
United SD Art Council to promote SD Art statewide, nationwide and world wide
Made in San Diego sales program
Teen resources or art involvement – with high interactive element and using the latest technologies and social media apps

Brainstorming Techniques we used today included:

  1. Time Travel. How would you deal with this if you were in a different time period? 10 years ago? 100 years ago? 1,000 years ago? 10,000 years ago? How about in the future? 10 years later? 100 years later? 1,000 years later? 10,000 years later?
  2. Teleportation : What if you were facing this problem in a different place? Different country? Different geographic region? Different universe? Different plane of existence? How would you handle it?
  3. Iconic Figures. This is a spinoff of rolestorming. What if you were an iconic figure of the past? Buddha? Jesus? Krishna? Albert Einstein? Thomas Edison? Mother Theresa? Princess Diana? Winston Churchill? Adolf Hitler? How about the present? Barack Obama? Steve Jobs? Bill Gates? Warren Buffet? Steven Spielberg? Etc? How would you think about your situation?
  4. Superpowers .This is another spinoff of rolestorming. What if you suddenly have superpowers? Superman? Spiderman? Wonderwoman? X-Men? The Hulk? One of the Fantastic Four? What would you do?

PS for September 2013, From Rising Arts Leaders here are a list of paying jobs in the visual arts.

Director of Development, A Reason to Survive (ARTS)
Contract Arts Administrator, City of Coronado
Membership Assistant, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Gallery Educator, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Educator: School and Educator Programs, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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Politics and Art in San Diego

I am tracking several other large initiatives for the SD arts community and we should see some amazing changes soon at the San Diego Art Institute and the Commission for Arts and Culture.

The hunt will be on soon for a new director for The San Diego Art Institute. We are so pleased that Claire Slattery has been designated as the interim director. She was president of the board and so knows the inner workings of the Institute and what is will take for this wonderful resource to reach new heights. This is a huge opportunity for the right person who will know the benefit of collaboration with the entire arts community. Slattery was previously also on the board of the Combined Organization for the Arts and knows the value of the art associations of the entire country. This resource was little developed since it came under the authority of SDAI, but the potential is still there. We feel that the SDAI has been under utilized and would love to see so many more events and more variety in the exhibitions, a larger audience and more support from the community so that this premier venue in Balboa Park really serves our artists at the same time as it creates a strong arts identity for the region. That identity can serve the county as a whole in so many ways including showing the economic benefits of attracting skilled professionals to this area by showing them the creative excellence that exist here.

The position of director of the Commission for Arts and Culture for the City of San Diego will need to be refilled now that Mayor Filner is gone. The new mayor or acting mayor might want to choose from three new candidates that the commissioners put forward. Right now Dana Springs is holding down the fort as acting director, but maybe they will lure Denise Montgomery back as she resigned after two months in protest to Filner harassment charges. The future of the commission is the bigger issue. Some say it may be requested that this group becomes an independent non-profit organization and no longer is part of the government. That seems like a way to cut off the funding from the TOT (Tax on Tourist) to the arts. So it will take a strong and savvy director to keep the money flowing from the city.


Finally, we have to realize that the Commission for Arts and Culture is the only organization recognized by the county supervisors and thus the only one eligible for California Arts Councils funding. As Jim Gilliam, Director of Arts for the City of Encinitas reminds us, “ San Diego had an Arts Agency long ago but it was disbanded when the downtown Commission for Arts and Culture was established. The problem with that structure: the city doesn’t serve the full county.” It seems obvious that we need a SD Country Arts Council formed to represent all of the constituents in the region. This has to be an independent organization, not a branch of any other organization and it need to address the issues of funding for arts in the county, arts education, audience building and a true arts identity which is all inclusive. Although San Diego Visual Arts represents over 2100 resources we don’t cover the performing arts and don’t see this as a role for any one organization. It has to be a joint effort, with buy in from the majority of our art professionals. There is not a golden egg waiting for us at the CAC, but we are the only county in California that does not have a county art council and that just seems wrong.

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Art Eats Food

Has anyone else noticed how food continues to sneak into art events? It now has equal booking in many exhibitions. Our own Palette 2 Palate event was very successful and is part of our ongoing Eat Your Art Out program.

We all have to eat and the attraction of food is universal. Everyone has an opinion about food and most of us have chopped and grilled enough to earn our cooking badge. There are as many types of cuisine as there are schools of art. You can attract an audience to view art with the lure of food. Some worry that food is a distraction at an exhibition saying that some people just attend for the grub and drink. Of course, alcohol has been known to loosen the purse strings. I personally like small dinner parties instead of large cocktail parties, but there is no doubt that the young like to gather and shout to be heard.

No one needs a reminder that food has been a subject for art since cave drawings. And who needs to be reminded that there is a whole industry in food styling for all those glorious images we see in every possible on and off line publication.

However, the most exciting aspect of this combination is merging the talent of two very creative aspects of our lives. Eating delicious, artfully prepared food in an aesthetic setting raised the experience to a whole new level. Valuing art as an essential ingredient for a social meeting is enlightened.

I envision a time when even grocery stores present limited edition, dishes of the day/week/month served on limited edition artist made dishes also for sale.

Here are a few new Art and Food venues.

Art a la Carte is a San Diego's trending pop-up food-meets-art movement showcasing works of art by local artists - curated by ArtWalk San Diego at Aventine every first Sunday.

Feast! at the New Children’s Museum The Art of Playing with Your Food runs from Oct. 13, 2013- Oct. 2014  Feast! will feature art installations created by sixteen artists.

Watch for the grand opening of the remodeled Sparks Gallery . Owner Sonya Sparks says, “We are currently investigating how the presentation of food can compliment art or even become its own work of art, and may incorporate this into our upcoming events when the gallery reopens.”

Art places that serve up extra special treats include:

The Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Festival returns each year in June at Women’s Museum of California at Liberty Station. The Museum of Photographic Arts hosts a major wine dinner each year but they now offer Dinner packages at the Prado restaurant. The Café at The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego offers especially tasty tidbits

To see a list of restaurants that show art check out the list which is part of our SmART Collectors resource: Eateries with Art


Alternative Materials Panel Discussion with James Hubbell and Debby and Larry Kline (SD Art Prize recipients 2013) and selected NCVI artists Timothy Earl Neil, James Enos and Brennan Hubbell with moderator Jim Gabriel: ARCHITECTS Hanna Gabriel Wells at the Sparks Gallery

I want to start this report with the announcement that we are delighted to announce the SD Art Prize 2013 emerging artist recipients. The established artist James Hubbell has chosen Brennan Hubbell and Debby and Larry Kline have chosen James Enos,These four artists will show together at the SD Art Prize 2013 at Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair: November 7 - 10, 2013 and again SD Art Prize at Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in April of 2014. It will be very exciting to see what these two pairs of artist present in the near future.

The panel was very stimulating and although not controversial there were some wonderful quotes and points made about the process of creation. Questions included the criteria for choice of materials, the most challenging material, the symbolic role of the materials, the longevity of the materials, and thoughts on renewable materials and new technology. The panel was ably facilitated by Jim Gabriel. Great thanks go to Sonya Spark and Sparks Gallery for hosting this panel. I am paraphrasing and summarizing here, so please do not take this as an exact reporting of what the participants said. Many, many examples are excluded so that you get the gist of the conversation.

James Hubbell: Art and Religion is all about what we do, not what we see. How we use materials to go inside ourselves to reveal content is important. Materials take you someplace whether it is to the past, present or future and have an influence on your journey. For example, we come from clay and return to clay, so clay’s very nature has an influence on the work. If you make a maquette from wood, the final piece in what ever medium, will be influenced by that wood. In the west we think, “In the beginning, there is the word”. In Asia, they think, ‘In the beginning, there is the brush”. We have to imagine the world in order to make it. There is a rhythm and a pattern to life and it is not necessary linear. Times changes everything and what was once old fashion become essential again." We can begin to see a manifestation of many future-primitive technologies asserting themselves across industry i.e. carbon fiber loom weaving for airplane wings" (James Enos). Hubbell uses the easiest material to get and the most affordable. Those local materials are an integral part of our language. We should learn from our land and our wind. When we use new technology, what are we giving up? All art is a prayer. It might be a prayer that is a message or a cry for change. It does not need to last to fulfill that destiny.

Brennan Hubbell: Materials can be thought of in a more abstract way for example, art as a gathering space which is in constant flux. The space needs to accommodate its function and have upkeep and re-arrangement to suit its changing purpose. There is a village which makes a spiritual action of repainting the designs on their adobe homes everyday with rice paint. Used materials which are recycled already have an innate history and this adds meaning to the new work. Not only should we use local materials but we should encourage all to buy local.

Debby and Larry Kline: Although most of our ideas come first, and we quest to find the right materials to manifest them, some of the work is influenced by the materials at an early stage. We love to learn about new materials and the restraints and advantages that they put on us is a wonderful part of the process. With new technology, the challenge is to use it in ways it was not intended to be used and to incorporate new technologies to create works that have lasting impact and meaning beyond the novelty of those technologies.

James Enos ":We are amidst a post-pop re-pop generation. Many of us have been socialized by transitional global capitalism foremost via Internet organized modes of representation. This certainly affects our understanding of materials, and affects our conceptions of what is “local”. This is technocratic knowledge distribution at work. I agree with Jim Hubbell that our conversation needs to be about space. In considering the ways in which space is organized, we can come to understand the place and meaning of materials whether through our experience of formal ordering principals like sun, wind and light, or by way of our relationship to political power, economy, and own means. We are here to explore, and to participate in the construction of our environment. Creative’s often do use fiction to re-direct fact or vice versa, and this has immense transformative agency. However, often we fight amongst themselves for survival, and fail to organize collective approaches for social change"

Timothy Earl Neill : From Marshall McLuhan, We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” The glow of the screen is now a fetish. We see it everywhere. It allows us to be two places at once and travel faster than a speeding bullet. Can new technology make objects that last forever?

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Many of you don’t know that I am a working artist. I make very complex detailed painting and sculptures with lots of color and details. I might aspire to make minimalist art, but that will have to wait for another life time.

For the promotions I do for SDVAN, I know that I get what I think is a good and simple idea, then somehow it always gets turned into a giant project with hundreds of moving parts and a large group of artist involved. In other words, what I do for SDVAN imitates what I do for my own art.

So for example, for the past few years we have been putting on Eat Your Art Out dinner parties. These are simple parties for no more than 12 people around a theme of the artist choice and a way to get artists and art patrons to move past the opening reception chit chat and have real conversations. Art Patrons in San Diego really love to meet real artists.

SDVAN’s tenth anniversary is this year and so 10 tables instead of one table seemed like a lovely idea. We teamed together with Synergy Art Foundation who put on a silent auction of small canvases to support their wonderful work for artists in need. So from a little acorn a giant tree is blooming on April 27 th. About 30 artists will host over 60 patrons with themed table top décor and a gourmet 5 course meal. That will be followed by a dance, the auction of art by 120 more artists and even a boutique of food related craft items.

I think this will be a fabulous evening but I don’t know if people have any idea how much creativity it takes to put on such an evening. The committee for this project is now working full time to present the artists in the best possible light and to make sure that the public has the most amazing time. The artists have gone out of their way and over the top to out do each other and make us proud. They are creating work in honor of a pair of organizations that want nothing more than to help the general public value what they do.

The VIP dinner for this event sold out in the first month, which was immensely gratifying. We have no limit on tickets to the second part of the evening when the silent auction takes place and we can get down and dirty with Ruby and the Redhots. So please join us to celebrate 10 years of prosperity in San Diego. PALETTE TO PALATE Sat April 27, 2013.

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San Diego: Identity Crisis or Identity Opportunity?

The whole world is also tussling with art issues. The new Pope Francis had, in his past, called for censorship of contemporary art. Kate and William (future king of England) are considering buying contemporary art to make royalty appear less stuffy. What a boast to the art market would that be. The Los Angeles MOCA has turned down a financial rescue package from LACMA. I sometimes wonder what sort of affect San Diego will ever have internationally.  

I attended the panel discussion at the beginning of March presented by the Ilan-Lael Foundation’s at the Mingei International Museum. These are ongoing Conversations on Beauty and this one focused on San Diego in Search of Its Identity.

I have recorded the sounds bites that each of the four participants produced. I think this short summary presents some of the history and wishes of our beloved city.  But each of us must use our own imagination if we want to avoid a SD identity crisis.

James Hubbell, artist and social commentator Ilan-Lael Foundation  - A large vision is important for San Diego which includes the Navy, Baja, Pacific Rim, and High Tech industry. We should let Balboa Park and the Bay creep back into the city. We need to remember to be happy with what we don’t know.

Mary Walshok, author, head of UCSD Extension and industrial sociologist – In the 1890’s,San Diego was attractive as a clean and open city at a time when other cities were perceived as diseased and dirty. It was built almost entirely from federal funding. But there raged a battle here between the industrial capitalist and the art and crafts movement often called smokestacks or geraniums. The city is divided 60% as private space and 40% public. 

Rob Quigley, architect of the new Downtown central library – We have a very engaged community but very risk adverse.  Let’s not have form follow fear. We have to consider emotional functionality.  It is all about being good ancestors. 

Howard Blackson, urban planner – San Diego has the most beautiful outside so we need to get people outside more. Cultural value creates economic gain. Change can not always be seen to be bad. The things you love should be renewed. 

To read an article full of quotes from the evening check out this City Beat link.

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Corporate Collecting Book Review

Corporate Art Collections by Charlotte Appleyard and James Salzmann
Lund Humphries/Ashgate Publishing Group in association with Sotheby’s Institute of Art

In the past, art was commissioned to support a religion or a cultural paradigm, but corporations can not be seen to do that. They generally avoid nudity, religious and political subjects. A stodgy law firm might have a few hunting prints in the waiting room and some portraits of the founder in the board room. But in 1960 companies were ready to step it up. The Whitney Museum in New York held a unique show Business Buys American Art. Corporations bought art to use in their advertising campaigns, color brochures, annual reports, as limited edition gifts to its stockholders and clients, and presented art as awards. Modern art on the walls of their offices gave a view of their company as up to date and even go ahead.

In 2011 there were 900 serious American corporation collections. In China, 5% of the GDP has been promised to go to cultural development by 2016. They see art as a “new pillar of industry.”

How are these collections operated and run and what drives the collection is covered in the insightful book by Appleyard and Salzmann. They looked at what they considered important collections only and recognized that things could and will change, but they define three major areas of corporate collecting.

Curatorial collections that are chosen by one person to enhance the experience of staff and clients are labeled here as “Environmental Enrichment” “Emblematic” collections are those that mainly reflect the identity of the corporation. “Patronage” collections are those that serve the community showing a social responsibility to support the arts. Some of these collections have become galleries separate from the corporation or give an annual art prize. Corporation can also sponsor exhibitions we see in museums.

Collections often have overlapping parts of all three. And they often deal with some of the same issues.

  • The art is there to fill blank places. The art work has to fit the space although in special cases, the space is made to fit the art.
  • Corporation use advisors, either hired or in special cases, in house, but one person in the corporation is the driving force for acquiring art and helps set the annual budget.
  • The art is expected to be inspiring to the staff and clients and not only bring out their own creativity, but also be an ice breaker for networking occasions. In the best cases, artists are brought in to talk to employees so they can engage and relate to the works. In even rarer cases, the staff is allowed to choose which of the art in the collection is displayed in their own offices.
  • Both public relations in terms of community outreach and publicity for the company are impacted by the art. Both can enhance the corporation’s image and aid in branding. Art can be a point of differentiation between companies and help define its message. Art from emerging countries might be perfect for companies selling bonds from emerging markets or cutting edge art for companies trying to attract the most creative of a young workforce.
  • Art has to be able to stand up physically and emotionally to the office environment. The setting is not the same as a museum who supply with the best lighting, temperature control, security and un-interrupted background.
  • Collections do have investment potential and prestige value connected with monetary value. But they represent a tiny percentage of the budget of the company. Most companies declare that their choices are not monetarily driven, only quality drive.
  • Should the collection be private or do they have a duty to make it available to the public with all the expense and worry that involves?
  • If the corporation spend vast sums on the art collection, how is that perceived by the employees and stock holders especially in hard times?

The book is packed with examples that are well presented and fascinating. Each company has a distinct personality formed by many of these criteria and it is fun to read about each and see the illustrations of the actual art work. They use the old fashion way of grouping all the color photos in sections which is too bad, as it would be good to see the art works next to the descriptions. As a visual aid, these are very high quality images by wonderful artists.

To give you a brief idea of some of the nuggets of information that I gleaned:

  • Successful investment is about being able to embrace uncertainty. Cutting edge art embodies that idea.
  • Many employees and visitor turn out to purchase works by the same artist shown in the corporation collection.
  • One company named all of it conference rooms after artists.
  • Corporations that serve the arts have a vested interest in growing a collection. Art insurers, art shippers, art legal services and art accountant.
  • A few corporation have the advantage of being able to produce a product collaboration with actual artists (Like Louis Vuitton handbags with Murakami’s faux Vuitton logo pattern)
  • Cost cutting choices encourage buying local to save on shipping, displaying less expensive works on paper and photographs which is often safer as the work is behind glass or plastic.
  • One now defunct collection allows for a corridor of controversy for those works that were rejected by the staff. Allowing these works to remain was a clever way to create talking points about the work.
  • We need to guard against corporations, which see loans of art as an inexpensive way to decorate.

The book makes mention of the tax laws for what is deductible in term of devaluation and donation and also touches on de-accession. There is a very short section on a few things to consider when starting a collection, but this is not a “how to” book. Maybe that is a pity as we should be trying to encourage more corporate collections. Will, expertise and funding rarely come together, but this book is a showcase for those corporations that have created added value through collecting art. The alternative is blank walls and what does that say about any business?

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Archived A+ Art Blog

2012 Past A+Art Blog including
Art of Science, Science of Art
Holistic Education
San Diego Steps It Up
Art Spaces for Art Places

Curated Exhibitons/OMA New Director
TED Speak: Introducing SDVAN View Art Now App
Augmented Realty
Big Art Big Bucks
Three Things You Can Do to Help the Art World

United Councils of San Diego?
Thank you to Dennis Paul Batt

New Horizons in SD Art

2011 Past A+Art Blog including
Is La Jolla coming back as a center for the visual arts in San Diego?, Dec 2011
Audience Engagement, Nov 2011
London Part Two, Oct 2011
London Part One, Sept 2011
Drink, Mate, Art, Aug 2011
Too Brave to Fail, July 2011
Out and About In June, 2011
Putting our Tax dollars to Work
The Birthing of Art Meets Fashion
DNA of Creativity
Los Angeles Contemporary Art Fair 2011 in under 2 minutes!

2010 Past A+Art Blog including

Best Tidbits for the Twelve MOnths of 2010
Katherine Sweetman has a home at SDVAN
Filling a Need
Collectors Take Note
Birthing Process
...And Three to Go
Willing to Fail
Life, Luck and Survival
Arting: are we consuming the right art?
Cliffnotes: One Month Condensed into One Week
Allison Renshaw Discovered
Dreams and Visions: MOvers and Shakers 2
State of the Arts 2010 - the Future of Art Publications

2009 Past A+ Art Blogs including
London and the Venice Biennial, 2009
Meet the Press
Beyond the Borders International Art (BTBIAF)
Interpersonal Theory of Art: Little & Large community phenomenon and the museum exhibition, Calder Jewelry at SDMA
Little and Large Launch
Little & Large Introduciton
The Recycling Buzz
Economic Realities for the arts in May 2009
Seven volunteer Inspried Visual Arts Projects
Snapshot – One women’s personal views on Changing Perspectives in the San Diego Art Scene: Notes from the panel discussion
The Economy and Affordable Live/Work Spaces
State of the Arts 2009

2008 Past A+ Art Blogs including
State of the Arts 2008
Hungry for Chinese Art?
Eat Your Art Out plus John Baldessari conversation with Hugh Davies
London Burning: A Damien Hirst Update
SD Flash Forward; Movers and Shakers Speak Out
Museum Trends: NY Times Cliff Notes
London Newsletter 2008
Art Collecting Clubs Part II
Artcentric Interiors
Poopielickles for All: attending Art Fairs in LA
Reading the Zines for Good Ideas, Feb 2008

Changing Power Base: State of the Arts 2008

2007 Past A+ Art Blogs including
Burnished by Fire: Stories of Firestorm, November 2007
The What and the How and the Wow, October, 2007
Careerist Artist,
September, 2007
Non-Profit is not a Free Ride, July 2007
Crowd Control at Museums, June, 2007
May and It'sDarling Buds - May, 2007
Cruelty Free Art Zone - April, 2007
Critical Issues Facing the Arts, March, 2007 – The James Irvine Foundation, September 2006 summary
Letter from London Dec 2006 - Feb 2007
State of the Arts Jan 2007

2006 Past A+ Art Blogs
Crossover: How Artists Build Careers
Art and Wine Tour of Northern CA- October, 2006
Web Heaven- August, 2006 Advice on Websites for Artists
Vacation Art-July, 2006
Art Critic Revealed: Robert Pincus - June, 2006
Artistic Freedoms- May 2006
Art and Science, Progress and Mystery - April, 2006
Building Market Share - March, 2006
Glass to Go - February, 2006
Collectors on Show - January, 2006

PATRICIA FRISCHER, author of "The Artist and the Art of Marketing" has lectured extensively on marketing for artists. She is a trainer of artists’ agents, art dealers, consultant and collectors. Frischer has taken on the roles of gallerist, curator, writer, teacher, website coordinator and artist. Her many metamorphoses make her difficult to fit into any of the usual art world categories. She is a founding member and coordinator of the San Diego Visual Arts Network, ( ) which funds the SD Art Prize, directory and events calendar and SmART Collector features. Her own artwork  ( ) has been shown internationally and her most recent one person show was at Oxford University.

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