As you know, every grant round we give financial support and advisory services to a diverse set of artists. However, you might not know that we raise every dollar we give out from an incredible group of foundations and individuals whose contributions range from $5 to $1.5 million. Two of our funders, the Theo Westenberger Estate and the Muriel Pollia Foundation, choose to support us by underwriting awards for Creative Capital artists.
How does it work? Once the artists in each class of awardees have been selected by our panelists, we invite the leaders of these foundations to the annual Artist Retreat. Based on the presentations, they choose the artist(s) that best fit the mission statement of the foundation.
Theo Westenberger was a photographer who was widely known for celebrity portraits, and she was the first woman to have her work featured on the cover of magazines like Sports Illustrated and Newsweek. She died at an early age, and left behind an estate that supports a number of causes she was passionate about, including a fund that supports women artists. At this year’s Retreat, Estate Executor and Creative Capital friend and supporter Colleen Keegan announced the Estate’s decision to support 2015 Performing Arts awardee Narcissister.
Colleen explained in an interview with Art F City last year that Theo “considered herself fortunate and was grateful for the opportunities that she was given and for the commercial success that financed her artwork. She focused on creating opportunities for other women artists and those more vulnerable.” This idea resonates perfectly with Narcissister’s goal to help women enjoy “a broader experience with their bodies and in their bodies the way that men do…” as she recently explained.
This year the Muriel Pollia Foundation named artist Wu Tsang (2015 Visual Arts) and filmmaker Travis Wilkerson (2015 Moving Image) as recipients of their named grants. The foundation supports Creative Capital’s artists in Southern California who foster diversity and community and are not afraid of risks. Travis Wilkerson’s Creative Capital Project, Blood Relations, certainly fits the bill. Combining murder mystery and documentary, it will follow Travis’s investigation into the 1946 murder of Bill Spann, an African-American who lived in Alabama. Spann was shot by an area Klansman, Travis’s grandfather.
There is another named grant that you too can help fund! At each Retreat, we kick off a fundraising campaign for what we call the Community Supported Artist (CSA). During the Retreat, we ask consultants, artists, and observers to collectively contribute $50,000—essentially contributing the financial support that will go to one of the new artists. This year we had an enormously positive response and raised over $70,000!
The CSA artist is selected by lottery from the current year’s class. This year, it’s Ivan Velez (2015 Visual Arts). He’s working on a series of comics called The Ballad of Wham Kabam! It is inspired by his frustration at never seeing minorities represented in the super hero comics of his youth. Ivan hopes to tell the story of America’s multicultural history, from subjugation of the indigenous to slavery to the Civil Rights movement, using the tropes and style of the classic superhero genre.
Congrats to all of the artists recognized with these named awards!