ADAA Provides Lifeline to Art Community

by Paddy Johnson on November 9, 2012 · 3 comments Newswire

Yevgeniy Fiks, "Homosexuality Is Stalin's Atom Bomb to Destroy America," installation view. Photography by Etienne Frossard.

In response to the enormous damage inflicted on galleries by Hurricane Sandy, the Art Dealers Association of America has put together an emergency relief fund for galleries in Zone A desperately in need of help. The group, whose membership is highly sought after by dealers around the country, will distribute relief to those with immediate need from an initial fund of $250,000. Non-members and members alike are eligible to apply.

“The big question we asked ourselves was what could we do that would make some difference immediately,” Greenberg Van Doren Partner and ADAA board member Dorsey Waxter told me over the phone on Thursday. “There were so many galleries that need help and trying to help in an expedient fashion was a priority.”

Waxter, who is also part of the ADAA’s Executive Committee, told me she was meeting daily with the committee to figure out how the fastest way to distribute the funds. That work is evident on the site. The application form is simple and will probably take most organizations about 30 minutes to fill out once applicants have fully assessed the damages.

“We’re submitting our application later today,” gallery owner Edward Winkleman told us. Should the gallery receive the relief, it will make a significant difference to their program. The gallery has been unable to sell art because they’ve been closed, and insurance companies are overwhelmed with claims. “Those funds won’t be coming anytime soon,” he added. “It encourages people to start focusing on Miami when it wasn’t even feasible before because we were so busy with repairs.”

Non-profits are also eligible for the grant, and since many have suffered significant losses, it could be a lifeline. “We were able to get a temporary space for our studio program from Two Trees Realty on 111 Front Street,” Smack Mellon’s Executive Director Kathleen Gilrain told us. “But the organization still has a long way to go before we’re up and running.” The building is still without power, and she estimates $267,502 in damages to the building, and $135,000 in lost artist work. That doesn’t include the elevator, which doesn’t work. Gilrain said, “We don’t have a shop and a media lab anymore, so it’s not exactly the same program.” She did not know about the program before speaking to us, but was relieved to learn about it.

Executive Director of The Kitchen, Tim Griffin heard about the program through us as well, and was similarly happy about it. The organization sustained a similar amount of damage to Smack Mellon, though as a larger organization, the blow might not be quite so devastating. “The Kitchen’s been run responsibly for a very long time,” he told us, speaking of a larger picture. “That grounded approach will put us in a position to sustain ourselves.” That said, The Kitchen won’t know until next week whether they can have their November 26th benefit on site due to the extent of the damages, and Griffin tells us that even small donations help them repair. “Every little bit matters. It helps us pay people to help the clean up. It gives us a couple extra hours of labor.”

Given that the damages of these two non-profits alone exceed $800,000 I asked Waxter whether the ADAA was concerned that $250,000 might not go very far. “250,000 is a beginning,” she told me, explaining that the organization was urgently seeking more funds. “We need to get as much money as we can now because we’re concerned that by Thanksgiving this will be a back page story.”

That’s looking like it may not be an issue given the severity of the storm, but the concern is real. Given the Art Dealers’ prestigious list of members, the group is arguably better positioned than most to fundraise. “I think this is the kind of role the ADAA is meant to have,” Waxter explained as we closed our conversation. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The ADAA dispersed grants to three galleries this morning, Wallspace, Bortolami Gallery, Derek Eller Gallery and the non-profit book store. Printed Matter, Inc. 


Brian Sherwin November 12, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Paddy — What exactly did these galleries do to prepare for the worst case scenario aside from breaking out the bubble-wrap? Did any of them attempt to move their inventory? Did any of them have flood containers? Or was planning reduced to bubble-wrap and crossed fingers? Note: I was raised near flood areas… and have seen first hand how quickly business owners can protect, at the least, their inventory. We don’t take warning signs lightly.

Paddy Johnson November 13, 2012 at 1:19 am

The galleries all prepared differently. I don’t know what these particular galleries did, but i can ask. I know some hung all the work very high on the walks so flood water wouldn’t damage the work. Apparently Ameringer and Yohe was very well prepared because their art handler grew up in Florida and knew how to prepare. I’m guessing a lot galleries didn’t have that background and even if they did it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Printed Matter would have had problems no matter what, I think. They have zero space in their store that isn’t used and their basement was full of stuff. It’s too bad they weren’t able to move more of their stuff.

Brian Sherwin November 13, 2012 at 3:12 am

I don’t think Printed Matter would have had the resources available beyond the basics based on funding. But some of the other venues… I just think they could have done more based on what I’ve read. But, again, I was raised in and around flood areas. At the least, it would have been nice if the galleries had access to vehicles large enough to transport a lot of artwork at once in situations like this. That would cost a lot though… unless, perhaps, a non-profit picked up the banner — but that would involve proper funding. I’m still in the jaw-drop phase… I can only imagine how you guys feel being there.

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