Monday, January 10, 2011

POST: Mark Bradford Donates $100,000 To Fellow Artists / Wall Street Journal / December 7, 2010

The Wall Street Journal

A Painter's Art of Giving


    Mark Bradford is looking to give artists an easier way to help one another.

    Last December, the mixed-media painter gave a $100,000 donation to nonprofit organization United States Artists to create a fund financed by artists that will disburse grants to their peers.

    "We've all been to rent parties where we help fellow artists raise funds," says Mr. Bradford. "All we're doing now is making an informal economy formal."

    The Artists2Artists Fund will match gifts received through USA Projects, a new fund-raising social networking Web site.

    The microphilanthropy website is an extension of USA, a nonprofit founded in 2005 with initial funding from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. It awards $50,000 fellowship grants to 50 artists a year. Since its inception, it has awarded $12.5 million.

    Through the site, artists create a project Web page, where they publicly display plans for future work, ask for support and raise money. Artists then set their own fundraising goals and deadlines. Supporters donate funds to USA, which gives 81% to the artist. The other 19% goes to the charity for its program and Web site expenses.

    Current projects include ones by New York puppeteer Dan Hurlin, who is raising money for a new theater performance about the homeless in Santa Monica, Calif., and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris's "Marriage Equality: Byron Rushing and the Fight for Fairness," a documentary connecting the movements of civil rights and gay marriage.

    USA awarded Mr. Bradford its $50,000 fellowship grant in 2006. The next year, he joined the organization's board of directors.

    Mr. Bradford, whose work has been included in major exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, was awarded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's genius grant last year. He says a number of artists were instrumental in helping launch his career.

    For instance, he recalls Daniel Joseph Martinez, the artist known for his "I Can't Imagine Ever Wanting to Be White" piece at the 1993 Whitney Biennial art show, who helped fund his first show.

    Now that he is being asked to help support museums and other artists, he wants to focus his philanthropy on helping artists find funds to "keep moving."

    "The worst thing for artists is not to have the money available to carry out the ideas they have in their heads," Mr. Bradford says.

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