Artists Open the Floodgates of Philanthropy on Art Basel

“Flood the Art Market” Banner designed by Communications Design Class at Parsons and TODA

As members of the art world head to the home of The Golden Girls to peruse, critique and/or roll their eyes at the displays of one of the most popular art fairs in the world, a noble bunch of New York artists intend to intervene the glorified shopping mall to mitigate the devastation Hurricane Sandy caused to New York’s creative community.


Janette Beckman’s “Run DMC” (nd) is one of the donated works to “Flood the Art Market.”

Flood the Art Market, incepted by graffiti photographer Clams Rockefeller, performer and multimedia artist Hally McGehean and art director/designer Cey Adams, is a group charity show composed of donated artwork whose proceeds will go to the NYFA Emergency Relief Fund benefiting recovery efforts specifically geared toward artists who were displaced and ravaged by the superstorm that blew through our metropolis last month.

“Even though we’ve seen artists helping artists in New York, we thought it was a good idea to travel to this dry, warm, and sunny place with a built-in audience of people who probably haven’t donated their time or money yet,” says co-curator McGehean on the logic behind staging a grassroots show amidst the big players on the art scene. Creating an intricate network of artists between the three of them, the show boasts pieces donated by everyone from fledgling newcomers to the Beastie Boys.

Housed at The Art Place Wynwood from December 6–9, the show will culminate in a silent auction and “Flood Party” on Saturday night. Though assembled from the resources available on such short notice, the show appears to be well-curated so far, melding an 1980s hip-hop vibe with street art and vintage portraits of Run DMC to downtown gritty glamour through photos of transgender icon Amanda Lepore and early club snapshots of a young Lady Gaga. It also marks a shift in value to more modern and experimental forms, considering the curators hadn’t even thought to ask a single traditional painter to donate.

Chelsea Rae Klein’s Untitled Photo of Amanda Lepore from the Series “We Will Always Remain, But We Want to, Too” (2012) is one of the works donated to the charity auction to benefit artists devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Initial premise aside, the details of the project evoked a sense of awe and completely unheard of empathy (from me, at least). Artists donated high-quality prints and one-of-a-kind works at the drop of a hat; Parsons students spent their Thanksgiving breaks designing the posters; venues opened their doors, liquor sponsors their bottles. It can even be perceived as a larger, political act of resistance.

On the fetid air that sometimes permeates the art scene, McGehean reflected on the fact that, “[It] can be pretty cutthroat and unpleasant … even if you want to get into MoMA before another artist does, we’re still a family.”

“Flood the Art Market” reacts to the commercialism of Art Basel as a kind of intervention, interrupting the flagrant consumerism of art that tends to saturate fairs with a philanthropic, communal effort to foster and sustain creativity under one non-gallery sponsored roof.

If you’re going down to Miami, it might be worth checking out and putting time towards. And if you’re staying up here in the unseasonably warm weather, you can always donate to their indiegogo campaign.

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