Host of patrons help out artists at auction

SANTA FE, NM — The life of an artist is often not an easy one … In the old days (and not what my daughter calls “Back in the olden days mom, when you were little” in the ’50s and ’60s; I’m talking around 500 years ago, like in the Renaissance) a serious artist with talent might have the good fortune to be backed by a patron. Otherwise, like today, maybe they’d have to support themselves with a “real job,” and do art in their spare time just for the personal satisfaction.

Some people don’t think art is a real job. “I’m not going to pay for you to go to college to go play around in the art rooms. You can do that at home. Take real courses, or go get a job!” I actually knew someone who said that! Of course there’s the other side of that coin: the sadly bereft of talent who truly should not be in the art department at all, but are there … Then again, (and dare I say this out loud in Santa Fe?) in terms of art, I’ve always thought that Jackson Pollack pulled a fast one on us! But I digress …

Patrons! Benefactors! Kiss an artist today!

Who knows what Leonardo might have grown up to be had it not been for the Sforza family underwriting him … butcher, mortician, Renaissance restaurant waiter? He might have had to put his dissecting ability to another use.

And Michelangelo … What if instead of the “Pieta,” he had been carving marble sea shell fountains for the Florentine garden centers of the day? Lucky for him (and us) that both the Medicis and Pope Julius II were competing for his affections and production! Dueling benefactors! Then Julius awarded him the heavenly painting contract for the Sistine Chapel ceiling, where Biagio di Cesena, the Pope’s assistant, made his life hell, a constant thorn in his side, irritating and undermining him every minute of the six years he worked on the chapel. So, wit that Mr. M. Buonarroti was, at the last minute of completion he painted Biagio as the devil with horns in his forehead, right over the only door to be seen by all passing through, forever, and of course every guide points him out, ha ha.

Michelangelo had a stormy relationship withthe pope. Nevertheless whenever he caught the pox, the topic of who would pick up the physician’s bill probably never came up. Certainly today artists without benefactors have a hard time affording the medical bills, or hospitals, or health insurance, or medicine or alternative medicine.

So the Santa Fe Artists Emergency Medical Fund was established 18 years ago to fill the gaps. It pays for prescriptions, co-pays, and a variety of “medical codes” on the forms. The program is only available to Real Artists: those who primarily make their living through producing art, and who have had a one-man show at a credible Real Art Gallery within the last five years.

The funds come from generous gifts to the organization and from their renowned annual art sale, held this year at the Blue Rain Gallery. Once again chaired by the inimitable and sparkly Shari Morrison, this event draws more and more folks every year because (1) it is really fun, (2) it is artsy, with cameo appearances by many Santa Fe characters (as previously lamented, we are running out of characters in Santa Fe!), and (3) there is wonderful art by some truly great artists available for every pocketbook.

This year over 600 people came for the opportunity to buy an original piece by Armand Lara, Elias Rivera, Susan Contreras, Doug Coffin, and 196 other noteworthy artists by silent auction. Every piece was supposed to be 6? x 6?, but the out-of-the-box crowd came up with 6?-ish sculptures, bas reliefs, and boxes as well, for a total of 200 items.

Serious bidding wars developed around some highly sought-after pieces, with participants lurking close by, leaning in to glance at the last line on the bid sheet. “Am I still winning or has someone outbid me?” they wondered, champagne and chocolates balancing in one hand, pencils poised ready to pounce in the other. Some pieces were fun and light; others were major works of art in miniature.

Over $30,000 was collected from the sale of these little treasures. Every year they get better and better, as does this event, and the lives of the artists it helps.

Ashley Margetson has a B.A. in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email


Lisanne Cole and Linda Carfagno come in from the cold.
Jennie Cooley shows off her style at the Santa Fe Artists Emergency Medical Fund auction.
Jennie Gold and Carlos Carulo present a Western vibe at the silent art auction.
Evan and Terry Graves join the event to help artists.
Dr. Larry Lazarus joins the crowd at the Santa Fe event.
Shari Morrison sparkles at the event she chaired.
Bernadette and Joe Valdes trade grins at a fundraiser to help artists with medical bills.

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