Helping artists in down times, part I

In a recession, art funding becomes an oxymoron. And then we're suddenly grateful for the tattoos of celebrities, like Megan Fox's King Lear reference on her back, to give us our Shakespeare.

Two of my favorite new artists I discovered with the help of Campari. No, not the name of New York's latest curator from across the pond, but the 150-year-old red alcoholic aperitif invented in Italy, the stuff of New York Times' Helene Cooper's villa dreams. "We proffer Campari-vodka-grapefruit juice aperitivos..." Cooper writes in her romantic story on how to score an affordable vacation rental in Italy.

Artists and alcohol have long had a productive relationship (go ahead and argue that), and Campari's long-standing "experiential marketing" initiative, House of Campari, is brilliantly set on supporting emerging artists, through grants and rallying audiences into galleries. In a boom market, this might get eclipsed by the insane stories of English artist Damien Hirst selling off his pieces for tens of millions of dollars--$100 million for a diamond-encrusted skull alone.With the art bubble going the way of Lehman Brothers, suddenly we need more Camparis, the "apertivos" and the art patron.

Last spring, I got to hear a haunting young woman with a haunting voice, named St. Vincent, play in a gallery with paintings by relatively unknown artists, curated by Campari. St. Vincent is the darling of independent music's Delphi--Pitchfork Media--and has a new song I keep replaying. In plain-speak, she's been blowing up. And I first heard her at this event. Before Kanye West's blog, via Ariston Anderston at Cool Hunting, gave praise to Matthew McGuinness's Casper Disaster, at this same event, I stared at it and wondered if there was any chance I could buy it.

Last month in Los Angeles, Campari had another exhibit featuring artists to watch, "First Look: An Exhibition of Emerging Artists from Los Angeles Galleries." Hopefully they keep this up -- the art world needs them to.

In more saving art news, the Los Angeles Times reports today that the California Community Foundation,in partnership with the Getty Trust, will provide $20,000 grants to10 mid-career artists and $15,000 grants to four emerging artists.

I gave this post a "part 1" status, in the hopes that I'll have more good news soon to deliver.
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