Saturday, September 15, 2007

Free art for all!

I received this in the mail, handwritten on a postcard. Included with it was a blank 5 x 7 card, a photograph of two adorable little girls, and a self-addressed stamped envelope:

Dear Carol,

Last year our oldest daughter, Ellora (then 4) asked “if she and her sister (Twyla 1 yrs. old) could have some art for their bedroom." So for their birthdays (5 & 2) I wrote to 7 artist [sic] and asked them to send them a card (these now framed and hanging in their room). As Ellora’s 6th birthday is approaching, she asked “if they could get some more art for their birthdays.” If at all possible will you do something on the enclosed blank card and mail it back for them.

Thank you,
Mark Daley

I do not know Mark Daley unless, perhaps, he was once a graduate student of mine. The envelope was sent to me c/o the School of Visual Arts.

Then a friend received this letter out of the blue from the New York Studio School:

Dear Mr. X,

The New York Studio School is pleased to announce its Annual Fall Benefit. On October 25th, 2007, we will host this event at the beautifully restored Prince George Ballroom in New York City. This is the most important fundraiser for the School and is regularly attended by important collectors, artists, and other prominent figures in the New York City art world.

Enclosed please find a blank canvas on which we invite you to create a work of art that we hope you will donate to the Benefit. If you prefer, please contribute a piece of work of equivalent size (11” x 14”). Ideally we’re looking for drawings, paintings, or sculpture. Donated work will be sold for the benefit of NYSS and all proceeds from the sale of work will go directly to support the School.

Donated works must be postmarked or hand-delivered to the School by August 31st, 2007 and will be featured on the School’s web site at Please note that submission of your work indicates that you give NYSS permission to reproduce it on the website and in any promotional materials related to the sale of the work.

…By way of thanks, we would like to invite all contributing artists to join us on October 25th to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and see the work at the event….

Artists are always being asked to contribute to this or that, but this is something new. A blank canvas? What do people think? That artists have a special conduit to God, and art just spews out of us without any effort? Would they ask their dentist to clean their teeth for nothing? Or have I been missing out on free dental hygiene all these years because I simply didn't know to ask? Well I have a wedding coming up, of very dear friends, and some beautiful fabric I’ve been saving—I think I’ll send it to Marc Jacobs and ask if he’ll run me up a little something. And Paul McCartney—he was so cooperative about the yoga eye exercise video below—I’ll ask him to write a song just for Jeanette and Erica, and if he agrees to come and perform it at the reception, we’ll give him dinner. It’s the least I can do to help make the wedding really special.


Anonymous said...

I cannot tell you how many times a month I am hit up for free art. We have come up with a solution here in Spartanburg SC called Art with Heart. About 15 artists who got sick of giving art away have a big show every year or so. Each artist picks a charity in town. Half the proceeds go to the charity, half to the artist. Everybody wins. And my prices stay consistent...not at the whim of a bunch of over-served people at a charity auction. And when I turn people down(it's a small town and I have a high profile) I tell them about Art with Heart. The best part is that I always sell well. Google Art with Heart (or maybe it's ArtS with Heart).

The Spicers said...

Yes, this is an amazing phenomenon. Imagine how much time you could spend just creating donatable art for every auction and fundraiser?