Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dance Fever

This article is from the current issue of Rhode Island Monthly Magazine. It was written by Hera Gallery artist, John Kotula.

For twenty-five years, the painting sat forgotten in a basement. Today, it is a world treasure. But this isn’t the first time Danza Afro-Cubana has set off fireworks.


In the summer of 1970, when artist Roberto Julio Bessin was sixteen, his grandfather gave him a painting. The two were spending the summer fishing on Long Island Sound, and the gift was a gesture to encourage the teenager’s dreams of becoming an artist. Thirty-seven years later, the painting was auctioned for $2.6 million last May.

It is hard for anyone who doesn’t see art as a commodity to think that a painting could cost as much as putting twenty students through four years of a private college, supporting 125 families of four above the poverty line for a year or buying pretty good season tickets to the Patriots for yourself and more than 2,000 of your best friends. Yet, if any painting looks as if it is worth $2.6 million, it is Mario Carreño’s Danza Afro-Cubana. It is big—sixty-five by forty-eight inches—beautifully composed, so colorful it seems to vibrate. And frankly, it is damn sexy.

In the painting, a man and woman are dancing in a cane field. The man is costumed and masked from head to ankle, but his exposed hands and feet reveal that he is black. The woman is white. She is naked except for a cloth wrapped around her hips, shimmying so fast that her legs and arms appear in two places at once. Her round, upturned breasts are at the center of the composition. There’s almost no question how this night will end.

There are two sides to every story. If the story is a good one, there are as many versions as tellers. Memory fails, emotional patina builds up, perceptions change. This is one story of Danza Afro-Cubana—the man who painted it, the one who acquired it and the grandson who learned what it means to love and part with something of great value.

Roberto Julio Bessin’s studio is a large, sunny room in an old mill building in North Kingstown. Art books, auction catalogs and bulging file folders form piles on shelves and tables. Nature photographs, paintings, drawings and old guitars cover the walls. There are comfortable chairs, a good music system. The studio is not only a place to make art, it is a good place to sit around, listen to Richard Thompson or Van Morrison recordings and talk politics over a cup of coffee.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

New York Times Article: Bracing For Lean Times Ahead

This article was recently published in the New York Times, and addresses the impact of the current financial down turn on nonprofit organizations. Be sure to visit the NY Times website to read the comments left about the article, it is all very interesting.

Published: November 10, 2008

SO what’s the fallout for philanthropy?

Given the financial tremors that have obliterated wealth and driven the economy deep into the doldrums, will charitable giving, which reached record levels in the United States over the past decade, show sharp declines? Will foundations, faced with shrunken endowments, scale back their grant-making? Will individual charities, squeezed by reductions in both private and public money, be forced to cut programs?

In short: was philanthropy, like the housing and financial markets, riding a bubble that has finally burst? So far, few fund-raising experts or nonprofit leaders are predicting an implosion in giving, a long fall from the more than $300 billion that was donated last year in the United States. But nonetheless they acknowledge that their world has changed and are preparing for leaner times. It’s more a matter of when, not if.

“I just don’t see how we can have these conversations out of one side of our mouths about people’s cratering 401(k) plans and sinking home values and then say there isn’t going to be some sort of big negative kick to the giving stream, as well,” said Lucy Bernholz, president of Blueprint Research and Design, a nonprofit consulting company in San Francisco.

Some experts, like Robert F. Sharpe Jr., president of the Sharpe Group, a fund-raising firm in Memphis, point to historical data showing that swings in giving are not nearly as severe as broader economic ups and downs, and that during some of the worst times philanthropy remained strong. “Just about any way you look at it, the Depression was one of the best periods for charitable fund-raising,” Mr. Sharpe said.

Read on here...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hera Gallery Member, Caroline Pyle Jr, will show her work at the Effe Leven Gallery in Chicago’s River North Art District

This article if from Chicago's Herald Bulletin

Local abstract artist Caroline Pyle Jr. will show her work at the Effe Leven Gallery in Chicago’s River North Art District.

Pyle is a self-taught artist who found her artistic voice more than three years ago after a near fatal car accident. Pyle says painting became her passion.

“My mother gave me a paint set and suggested I use art as a form of therapy. Though creative by nature, I had only had only taken a couple of informal painting classes. Painting became therapeutic, helping me endure long, painful days during my recovery. Later a friend viewed my work and encouraged me to share my work with the broader community — it was astounding to see that people were moved by my work!”

Pyle has since exhibited her work in Rhode Island and Cincinnati, where retailers carry her work. Her patrons include those from Indiana, Ohio, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Michigan, as well as a corporate client in Kentucky.

Islay Taylor, director of Hera Gallery in Rhode Island says, “Caroline gives her emotions a clear voice, allowing pain and brokenness to be articulated through beauty. Pyle creates vivid works that memorialize the chrysalis of perseverance and determination”.

Pyle, whose family has lived in Anderson for over 20 years, has recently relocated here from Cincinnati. She currently has a studio at the Landings Office Park on Main Street where she schedules viewings by appointment.

Image above: Field of Dreams, acrylic on canvas