Academy of Fine Arts gala benefits arts, charity organizations

Academy of Fine Arts gala benefits arts, charity organizations – news

Laura Meyers

DANA POINT, Calif.–Amid glitter, glam and celebrity guests like Jane Seymour and Loni Anderson, some 250 Southern California arts supporters gathered Sept. 29 at the Ritz Carlton resort here for a black-tie dinner and art auction to inaugurate the Academy of Fine Art Foundation’s first annual Art to Benefit Humanity event.

The gala charity ball included awards and multi-pronged fundraising efforts. Seymour and artist M. L. Snowden were among those bestowed with trophies in recognition of their ongoing support for artists and the arts. Seymour, a painter herself, helped emcee the event and donated a canvas–a floral still life, which fetched $5,000 in the evening’s benefit auction.

“I’m very pleased to be here” Seymour observed. “The idea of this foundation is to talk about art and the business of art and to bring artists together. Artists are not being recognized in the same way actors and musicians are, yet artists want so much to give back in the same way actors and musicians do. The Academy of Fine Art Foundation will help them do so”

Along with Seymour and Anderson, a former art teacher, actors Barbara Eden and James Keach were special guests.

Artists, galleries and art publishers all donated art works to help assist the efforts of the fledgling Academy, a newly-established foundation conceived to provide financial grants and aid to artists and art organizations; to educate the public and art practitioners on art and art business practices; to recognize the efforts of individuals and organizations who support art; and to partner with like-minded philanthropic organizations with various art programs to help in their fundraising efforts.

The $250-per-person soiree raised more than $100,000 through a silent art auction, a live auction of art and jewelry, a $150 ticket raffle for a donated BMW and net revenue from the dinner itself. The proceeds will benefit several local philanthropic organizations, including the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, the Art Institute of Southern California, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Laguna Beach chapter and Tippi Hedren’s Roar Foundation. It will also provide the seed money through which the new Academy Foundation will establish its national programs. In addition, 15 percent of the $53,500 in bids hammered down during the live auction of 10 paintings, sculptures and mixed-media canvases, was slated for the Red Cross September 11th Fund, along with the direct proceeds of $7,500 from the auction of a limited-edition bronze sculpture, “Triumph,” by the artist Tuan. The silent auction of 39 works raised more than $50,000 of the total.

“The Pacific Symphony is greatly indebted to the Fine Art Academy,” said John Forsythe, president of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra organization.

“I want living artists to be appreciated,” noted Daniel Winn, founding member of the Foundation and c.e.o, of Masterpiece Publishing in Laguna Beach, Calif. Among the Foundation’s goals, he said, are “to benefit philanthropic organizations, giving them the means to raise money but at the same time making artists better known … building recognition for art and artists” Over time, the foundation plans to create scholarships to art schools and to support arts education programs, he said.

Masterpiece Publishing Inc. furnished an initial endowment of more than $250,000 for the establishment of the Academy of Fine Arts Foundation and contributed 14 art works to the auction, including Tuan’s bronze sculpture to benefit the September 11th Fund. But Masterpiece’s stated goal is to bring many other art businesses into the Foundation’s programs. For this first fundraising event, paintings, prints and sculptures were donated by 11 other art publishers and galleries, including Miranda Galleries, Collectors Editions, Whitt/Kraus Objects of Fine Arts, Brandon James Fine Art Inc., Studio Szabries, Galeria di Sorrento, 1451 International, Studio 133, Alius Corporation, J. Kamin Fine Art and W’mston’s Estate Gallery. And, added Randy Slavin, Masterpiece’s c.f.o. and the president of the Academy Foundation, “about half the art donated tonight was donated by individual artists,” including Steve Kaufman, Debra Sievers, Alexandru Darida and Gaylord Soil.

All framing for the live and silent auctions was donated by Max Moulding, Framing Fabrics, Designer Moulding, Omega Moulding and Masterpiece Custom Framing. Other donors included Breitling USA, Ferrari-Carano Vineyard, Crevier BMW and The Black Iris floral design.

Slavin outlined his own personal objectives for the foundation. “A big part of this, is exposing art to the broader public. This country has a smaller proportion of collectors, per capita, compared to Europe. And yet there has not been a concerted effort here to bring together art galleries and publishers–many of them Mom-and-Pop shops–to expand the market overall and build more collectors, rather than competing for a share in the existing market,” he said.

“But more than that,” Slavin continued, “my father was an artist, and he never got the recognition he deserved. Artists need to be recognized. If by doing philanthropy, an artist also builds his own recognition, that’s a good partnership.”

Moreover, Slavin and Winn envision the Academy of Fine Arts Foundation as serving as an “overseer” of professional business practices and business ethics in the art industry. The foundation’s mission statement describes its goals including:

* An awards program through which organizations and individuals will be honored with the art industry equivalent of the Academy Awards, acknowledging those organizations that represent excellence in the business of art;

* A series of publications and videos that focus on art history, art business practices, art law, art marketing and similar topics to help standardize business practices in the art industry;

* Education for artists and arts organizations on the business of art through seminars and workshops with recognized experts; and

* Annual roundtable events where art professionals can discuss business practices, industry concerns, ethical standards and other timely topics of interest as they arise.

Seymour noted that “through art, I was able to find a huge amount of joy … after a painful divorce. I have now been painting for about 10 years. It was a private passion for me. I had never intended my work to be seen by anyone expect myself and my family” Said Seymour, “Like Monet had his garden, my husband has two gardens in which he is obsessed with growing flowers so I can paint them.”

At the evening’s conclusion, announcing the unofficial tally of $100,O00-plus, Seymour dosed by reminding those present of the tremendous need for charitable outpourings in the wake of the terrorist attacks earlier in the month. “Here we are all celebrating art, but I’d like us to take a few moments to reflect on our unity, on our strength, on our hope and on our love for each other,’ she said. “Please take 11 seconds of silence in memory of those we lost.”

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