Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thinking About Appraisals?

If you've been thinking about getting a professional appraisal of your artworks, many qualified appraisers understand the different values, assigned uses, and market levels of assessments. Be forewarned though, appraisals can also carry risks.

Not one of us wants to sell too low, pay too much, or find ourselves over or under insured. Almost all of us want to get our fair share in property division, escape the risks of incurring tax penalties, avoid audits for works we gave as charitable contributions, and go to sleep at night knowing our estate taxes were properly calculated.

How do you ensure your item is being appraised at the correct value? The answer lies in how you plan to use the appraisal. There are ten major types of valuation. Utilizing a professional from the International Society of Appraisers or the American Society of Appraisers will go a long way to giving you piece of mind. Members of these societies are normally certified in using the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

Types of Appraisal Valuation:

1. Insurance

2. Estate Tax

3. Consumer Resale

4. Charitable Contributions

5. Investment

6. Liquidation

7. Price Confirmation

8. Equitable Distribution

9. Loan Collateral

10. Casualty Loss

In addition to the types of valuation, it is important to understand why the valuation is being developed. Are you as the client seeking cash, a financial arrangement equivalent to cash, other precise terms, non market financing, or financing with unusual conditions?

When you start looking for an appraiser who understands your ultimate motivation and goal, you'll want to be sure the appraiser is going to provide you with some basic report items. These are critical in chronicling your fair attempt to obtain a qualified report.

Report Items:

1. The purpose of the report: What type of value is being sought? Who is the appraisal being conducted for (the client's name)?

2. How the appraisal is to be used: The function of its assigned use.

3. Methodology employed by the appraiser.

4. Resources used by the appraiser.

5. Appraiser's market analysis.

6. Market selected.

7. A full description of the property so it can be identified without photographs.

8. The date and location of the inspection (I also like to see any weather or other considerations).

9. The effective date of value.

10. A statement that the appraiser has no financial interest in the property or that such interest is disclosed in the report.

11. Appraisers qualifications & signatures. At times, an appraiser who is untrained in a specific area may elect to collaborate with another appraiser with greater skills in that discipline. If this occurs, you will want a disclosure statement from both appraisers. Also when this occurs, it is common practice for the appraisers to split the appraisal fee. You may wish to inquire about the financial construct of the report.

Always remember, an appraisal is ONLY a professional OPINION of the economic exchange value of the legal rights inherent in ownership of property. Make sure your appraiser has spent a reasonable amount of time with the item in order to establish: specific identity characteristics; the relative quality of the item; and the physical and economic attributes with a material effect on value. Does the appraiser know the condition, style, size, quality, manufacturer, author, and materials?? Or how about the origin, age, provenance, any alterations, or restorations?

It's no secret that particularly in matters of estate, property division can be very tricky. Your appraiser should be asking you whether there are any restrictions, encumbrances, leases, covenants, contracts, declarations, special assessments, ordinances, or other items impacting your claim to ownership.

An appraiser's negligence qualifies as failure to exercise a standard of care which a reasonably prudent person would have exercised. This is failure brought by carelessness or intention.

An appraiser's incompetence qualifies as a lack of knowledge and ability in distinguishing the relevant from the irrelevant. This is often discovered and exhibited in the scope of work decisions where the level of research and analysis are most evident.

One of the ways an appraiser determines the value of your item is by analyzing a host of factors: what's the wholesale level of trade; the retail level of trade; the auction conditions, the economic conditions at the time of valuation; the market acceptability of the property; the supply; the demand; the scarcity; and the rarity. Many appraisers will use a sales comparison approach, comparing cost data of the item in new condition and the cost of the present work (with accrued depreciation).

There's a joke in the appraisal world called I-IBISIT. Don't be taken in with the It-is-because-I-said-it-is approach to your property valuation! As with many other things in life, in the appraisal world, you often get what you pay for. Appraisal of your artwork IS NOT the time to try to cut corners. Ask questions and be sure YOU understand the historical value, aesthetic value, intrinsic value, and economic value of your loved items.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Artwork to Support Jena 6 Defense Fund

Kenya Bevans is a Washington DC metropolitan freelance Web Designer. Over the past five years, Bevans has directed her firm, The Bside Designs and Networking, while simultaneously maintaining employment in Reston, Virginia as a Web/Print Designer. As a working artist, she decided that an art show would be an ideal way to help out with the Jena 6 cause.

Recently, Bevans began placing advertisements on Craigslist seeking artists works donations in support of the Jena 6 Defense Fund. Bevans plans to collect the works in preparation for a public online art show/auction, to be held for 24 hours on October 20, 2007 (start time 9:00 a.m.). The auction will be held at and will feature functionality similar to e-Bay. Volunteer donor's names also appear on the site.

All auction proceeds will be transferred in total to the Jena 6 Defense Fund, a fund primarily designed to support the legal costs of providing immediate justice for Mychal Bell. The Jena 6 Defense Fund is also supported and promoted by syndicated radio talk show host Michael Baisden ( Details about the Jena 6 Defense Fund can be found at Bevans will also provide all proof that the funds have been donated in total to the THE UN-EQUAL JUSTICE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND for the Jena 6 upon request.

To promote a successful auction, Bevans makes an Open Call to all artists of all mediums, including but not limited to jewelry and stone artists, sculpture, fine art, cartooning, muralists, and graffiti artists. Her effort is an opportunity for artists to volunteer and be a part of the online auction show. Artists who are interested in donating works, should let Bevans know their full name, city, medium, and name of the piece. Please also provide a digital file of the work to be put online. All artwork should be shipped to: Jena Donations c/o Kenya Bevans 2425 Merrybrook Drive #301, Herndon VA, 20171. Bevans can be reached via e-mail at or at 571.233.0914 with any questions.

When asked what motivated Bevans to organize the event, she said that she is not so separated from her own history to know that in 2007, there is still a deep divide in social class. She says that the bottom line for the Jena 6 is that what has occurred is just wrong. Bevans feels the children of today need to be made aware of the persistent and pervasive undertone of societal racism and that children should not be taught racist attitudes in the first place.

Bevans is encouraged by an excellent response to date from many contributors. Two local radio stations will also lend media coverage. Bevans looks forward to a positive and productive auction experience for all involved and to a day when art can overcome violence.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Alexandria Black History Museum: Big Al Carter's God Has Made a Way in Leesburg

The Alexandria Black History Museum proudly hosts a photographic exhibition of Allen D. "Big Al" Carter's work. All photographs were taken in the 1970's in Leesburg, Virginia. Shown is: Expression of Joy in Leesburg; Uncle Charlie Bowles With an Old Triumph Motor Bike, Leesburg, Virginia; and Uncle Brady Bowles Sign of Life in Leesburg, Virginia.

God Has Made A Way in Leesburg runs from September 11, 2007 - January 20, 2008. A special reception with the artist will be held this Thursday, September 20, 2007 from 6 - 8 p.m. In this second exhibition at the museum, Carter explores his family connections in one moment of time - working, relaxing, and surviving in Leesburg more than thirty years ago. Then, space was open, homes were modest, life was simpler. Carter's collection of male relatives have sadly left us, and as Carter looks back on their influence and inspiration, he sees valuable messages. Make the best of what you have. Enjoy the gifts you're given.

Carter, a Virginia native, loves Virginia history and is proud of the advancements made by African Americans. In May of 2006, the Washington Post called his talent "inexhaustible creativity." Sometimes known as Big Al, Al, or Big, Carter while teaching in Arlington, called himself a "burnt umber man." He is a poet, a painter, an educator, a sculptor, a music lover, and at times an insomniac. Two of his works can be found in the Corcoran - this small venue is nonetheless gripping.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Target Gallery: In The Flesh - Manion's Toward the Ideal

If art is about what's beautiful, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then art also has to be about what's unattractive, thought provoking, downright shocking, and deeply disturbing. It's the piece, much like the infamous Piss Christ, that makes you wonder, WHY would someone DO that. John C Manion of Iowa City, Iowa recently submitted such a piece to a jurored competition of contemporary works. Manion's Toward The Ideal sells for $8,000 and is one of over 500 entries submitted to In The Flesh, currently on exhibit at Torpedo Factory's Target Gallery.

Modeled clay and cast silicone (8" x 18.5" x 28.5") are formed to sculpt a naked baby, expressionless and totally immersed in believable bathtub water. Long pause. Repulsion. Wait. Did I see that correctly? I mean, who THINKS these things? And who spends time, energy, and materials on producing a work like this? Reeling, I remembered that maybe the manifestation of the subconscious mind, the repressed, and the taboo is cathartic in it's own right.

It's not all Manion's fault. I recently gave birth to my son who is now about the size and proportion of the submerged infant. No unsuspecting mother wishes to stumble upon yet more violence involving children. How can Manion know this scene is what all mothers deeply fear - there are people out there who think and do very bad things and sometimes, we are powerless.

I tell you, my little guy just loves the water. When we're at the pool, we wonder, is swimming for him what it was like to be back in the womb? This warm, weightless, free floating experience -- and what if we could go through all of LIFE like that? What if there's nothing more honest? We're flesh. Bland flesh that needs to be washed. Flesh that is dangerously close to innumerable forces that could lead to demise. Flesh left best, perhaps, in an innocent and unknowing world, albeit the tub!

Some collectors seek pieces that are so outrageously in your face with the power to transport the viewer. In these, the see-er has a predictable experience trajectory- shock, numbness, cavalier disinterest. The viewer is relieved from a secret thought prison. That's credited directly to the artist who was brave enough to risk saying yeah, you're not the only one who has ever thought THAT. I know a fellow who owns a piece so vile and over time, has come to regard it as high humor.

Laugh if you must, but look. In the Flesh is about what we all seek - meaning. Maybe Manion is asking, what does immersion of the flesh, immersion in water, in a work, in your own life and immediate paradigm, or immersion in art really mean to you???

Sunday, September 9, 2007

From Art Camp to Art Therapy: A Virginia Teacher's NOLA Experience

I met Kathleen Armstrong at the NorthStar Church Network Ministry Conference held in the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, VA on September 8, 2007. She was moderating a session entitled Network ... New Orleans, and she wanted to share her story of the transformative volunteer experience she had during her response to Hurricane Katrina survivors. Armstrong, a Fairfax County art teacher, is also a Disaster Relief Coordinator with NorthStar. She calls the story, From Art to Art Therapy.

Armstrong and a crew of volunteers had packed up a trailer full of arts materials including books, foam, and beads collected at Lanier Middle School. The team was intending to donate their time and service at a makeshift art camp for the residents of the New Orlean's Algiers community. After a two day drive in a rented truck and a stop-over in Tennessee, upon arriving the team learned that Michael Johnson, a young man who had just graduated from Frederick Douglas High School, was visiting a friend when another young man in a drug induced state mistook Michael's identity and shot him. Michael died in June.

The Bethel Baptist Church, where the arts camp was to be held, is located in the backyard of the high school where Michael graduated. Pastor Charlie Dale explained Michael had also lived directly across the road from the church. So it was at arts camp that over 40 neighbors and mourners, including Michael's younger brother Lil'G, and Michael's young girlfriend, gathered to seek solace and comfort through the connecting force of art and community.

Michael's mother, having lost all her photographs save but one in the flood, brought a picture over to the art camp to see if copies could be made. Armstrong helped her not only to make duplicates, but to create t-shirts and a scrap book in memory of her son. Also, because the local funeral home had been flooded, Michael's mother then asked Pastor Dale if the funeral service could be held at the church. Little did she or arts camp coordinators know, but the new church Pastor had been working towards trying to incorporate more members of the community in the congregation!

Armstrong believes her art camp quickly became art therapy and that the experience reinforced everything does not always go as planned. When she wanted to start camp at 9:00 each morning, she was told to look at it as a "suggested" time only. A major presence on the high school football team attended the camp and each day just sat and watched, absorbing everything like a sponge but not creating any art for the entire week. If the camp became therapy, perhaps that was best evidenced at the the end of the week when the football star accepted a church altar call and became baptised.

NorthStar is an association of Baptist Congregations at and recently teamed up with the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans to respond to need.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Old Town Alexandria Arts Festival: Sculpture and Glass

It can be difficult for artists to find successful venues to sell their works. Fortunately, the Old Town Alexandria Arts Festival is one of those shows you can just count on to generate revenue. Perhaps that's why every year, artists mostly from the Mid-Atlantic region return to the lower leg of King Street to set up white canopied booths along the brick and cobblestone for an arts bonanza weekend. It's a great crowd, dogs and all, with three or four distinctly different musicians filling the air with pleasant tunes. It's just great to see people of all ages truly enjoying the overall health of Old Town.

We recognized many studios who've made appearances over the past four years with sadly, not much new in their stable. Sometimes in the traveling arts circuit, when you find a formula that works (sells) - you stick with it without growing in new directions, or daring to push through to the next level. This year, we were surprised to see photography slightly underrepresented in the show. Two of the photo studios in attendance seemed to be drawing less than average interest AND we didn't see the boom in digital work that we expected. While there is multiple media in the show, this year's joy and surprise is in the growth of sculpture in general and glass in particular.
Oh, yes. The glass! What exceptional arrays of color patterns and shapes - and not only from one vendor. As anyone who attended today can tell you, the sun was just unbearable, and the glass just glistened. There was even a new twist in the jewelry genre - a booth of stained glass jewelry! We hit the show twice in one day - in the morning and again at sundown. Even at 4:0o pm it was easy to see people were just plain worn out from walking, humidity, and the crowds - so if you go Sunday, be prepared! Here's a sample of some of what stopped us dead-in-our-tracks. If glass isn't your thing, be sure to watch for the driftwood vendor outside of Bird in Hand Antiques. There's a charming and refreshing treat in store for you there! More details about the show are at

Arts Club of Washington: One Word Project Reception

Kudos to J.T. Kirkland and the fine curating job he performed in his One Word Project which opened Friday night at the Arts Club of Washington. To explain the show simply, Kirkland assigned artists with a single word as a thematic launching point. The idea was to create a triangular dialogue for visual and language communication between artist, viewer, and work. Three pieces of note are:

Gregory Ferrand's "Experience." Here is his Judge Me Not (For I Judge Only You), acrylic on canvas, 22x28, 2006, retailing for $1600.

Marsha Stein's "Pride," is of St. Jerome, a haunting and technically gorgeous execution of charcoal cast drawing, 24x36, 1999, not for sale.

Gregg Chadwick's theme on "Responsibility" drew the most evident enthusiasm. Chadwick traveled from Santa Monica, CA to explain the meaning behind his Marine in a coffin surrounded by monks. Chadwick grew up as a military brat and was deeply impressed that relatives of the deceased service member attended Friday night's opening. Chadwick said his own father was a Marine, and as a son, he felt he had the responsibility to paint his own military experience. As a self-professed Buddhist, Chadwick eloquently spoke about how responsibility is a common thread among all people and what it meant to him to participate in the show. He is pictured here in front of his work.

Honorable mention for layered meaning in story telling has to go to the Right Reverend James W. Bailey of Reston, Virginia for his burnt photo montage/collage of a church. Bailey's original explanation of meaning and his updated revisionist explanation are fascinating reading. One really does come away understanding that in New Orleans, A.K. (after Katrina), all is not okay.
The show runs to September 29th. More than 30 artists are featured, including Andrew Krieger's sculpture on Imagination, Baltimore's Rosetta DeBerardinis' 2007 work on Fluid, Alexandra Silverthorne's print on Forgotten, Angela Kleis' Hatteras Lighthouse silver gelatin print, and James Coleman's mixed media on canvas, seno utero matriz. Show catalogues are available for $25.
The Arts Club of Washington reminds us their third floor studio is open Tuesday through Saturday, with free arts classes open to the public every Saturday.