I've come to realize that that old saying "It's not always what you know, but who you know," is spot on. Even at American Artist magazine. Luckily, "we" know a lot of people, and as a result we have remarkable access to some of the greatest artists and works of art out there. And that's not even counting the dozens of emails I receive each day inviting me to openings at galleries and museums throughout the country.
|Studio Incamminati's program, Face to Face, brings children with craniofacial conditions and artists together for portrait painting sessions with the goal of inspiring the kids to love themselves just as they are.|
Really, as an art lover, there's not much to complain about. I have a fairly unique opportunity to interact with some of the most important art-makers working today. Considering that, it may be surprising to learn that the opportunity to see some of the most impactful artwork I've ever encountered has come, not through my connections at American Artist magazine, but through my connections at home.
My wife works in the healthcare industry, and several times over the past few years, she's brought to my attention a disease foundation or support group using artwork or teaching art techniques to help bring awareness to their cause; help fund raise; or help patients deal with their often debilitating illnesses.
|This acrylic painting–titled Smile–was created by Riley Ellenberger, a 10-year old suffering from Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, a genetic disorder that causes non-cancerous tumors to form in vital organs throughout the body. He created this painting for the "Art for a Cure" exhibition put together by the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. He called his painting Smile, because, as he says, "No matter what comes my way, I smile."|
Art shows and auctions are the most common examples, and in many of the cases, the artists are children. As part of their treatment or recovery, they create art to help express how their illness makes them feel, or show that they have hope that they will get better. I'm sure no one would claim that they possessed master-level oil painting techniques or know how to draw with professional skill, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone claiming their artwork was any less of a masterpiece.
It's stuff like this that keeps me passionate about art, even after working at the magazine for nearly a decade. It's, maybe, the best example of the impact art can have on someone's life. If a 10-year old dealing with something like Tuberous Sclerosis Complex can't inspire you by painting a smile, because that's how he's decided to face his illness, then I don't know what would.
Managing Editor, American Artist magazine