Here’s an understatement: there are a lot of very worthy organizations seeking funding in this time fraught with crises of near-apocalyptic proportions. The spotlight of a devastated economy has thrown the fissures of a broken and unequal society into high relief. Worse, we must risk our health to physically band together in solidarity.
Fundraising for the arts has always been a task for Sisyphus. But the case for the arts as vital — indeed essential — amid a pandemic and its partner economic disaster has never been more clear.
There is excellent research that demonstrates students who receive arts education are more likely to participate in pro-social activities and that the arts significantly boost student achievement, reduce discipline problems, and increase the odds students will go on to graduate from college. Arts education is an outlet for students to recognize how the world views them and how they wish to be seen. In short, by encouraging self-expression and dialogue, the arts are a pathway to a more just world. But those are the facts. Facts do not sell. Sex sells.
In a perfect confluence of that advertising adage and the urgent need to keep the arts in the foreground during National Non-Profit Impact Month, I want to make you aware of a very special Arts Education Initiative from the Mel and Leta Ramos Family Foundation and tell you how you can help students from under-served communities augment their arts education.
A god in the Pop Art pantheon, Mel Ramos was among the first artists in the sixties to appropriate comic book imagery. Independent of Warhol and Lichtenstein with whom he would exhibit internationally over a lengthy career, Ramos saw the power of advertising to bend minds and form tribes around idealized, unattainable versions of ourselves. Masterfully rendering colorful pin-ups posed with cigars and coke bottles, Ramos’ pointed critique of the objectification of women also laid bare the sexualization of the myriad unnecessary commodities that crowd our lives. Critics of Ramos have said that he delivers his satire with a wink and not a deadpan accusation, implying complicity in sexist attitudes. This is just ill-informed. Compare the sex-as-commodity commentary in Warhol’s Mona-Lisa-famous Marilyn screenprints to any of Ramos’ similarly conceptually-driven paintings and you will likely agree.
The Mel and Leta Ramos Family Foundation’s incredible Arts Education Initiative works to carry out the Foundation’s mission to transmit visual arts through education and public programs in order to make art accessible to all. A core tenet of that mission is supporting historically under-served youth art programs in schools and non-profit organizations. Both Mel and Leta were passionate about arts education, having taught art throughout their careers. The foundation continues their work.
My store, A.G. Geiger Fine Art Books, has teamed with the foundation to present a special opportunity to raise funds in this National Non Profit Month. The foundation is offering the full catalogue of Ramos titles at special pricing. In addition, the foundation has also generously offered several signed, rare lithographs.
The Ramos book collection includes hard to find editions of monographs, exhibition catalogues and even a set of postcards first issued by Taschen, all spanning the impressive career of the Pop Art legend. The lithographs include Cat Woman (pictured here) and Tallulah Tucher which is accompanied by a copy of the book Mel Ramos, Superman at the Supermarket, first issued by Kerber.
Full disclosure: the store receives a portion of the proceeds to cover costs and be aware that some of the books are available elsewhere. We do however hope in this case that you purchase through the store in order to benefit the educational cause. Proceeds from the sale of the Ramos books and prints will support its Arts Education Initiative — in part through contributions to the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) Apprenticeship Program that trains young adults in the art and museum fields.
It would be remiss at this point (especially as a Board member) not to also mention that LACE is about to open its amazing annual art auction. Fueled by contributions from the many fantastic artists whom LACE has discovered and supported in over 40 years as the nation’s most vital artist-centric organization, the auction is a collector’s best kept secret. Launching on August 26, bidders will have two weeks to preview the artworks and submit bids before the live virtual auction on September 9. You can support the longest running incubator for contemporary artists and curators in Los Angeles by registering to bid on Artsy.net.
Both the Mel and Leta Ramos Family Foundation and LACE deserve your attention, especially in this difficult moment. You can see the Ramos collection and the prints at aggeiger.com and melramos.com. You can also learn more about the exciting LACE auction at welcometolace.org.
Please shop locally.