Many artist studios, artwork, galleries, and public art was damaged by Hurricane Sandy.  Storm-related art insurance losses were approximately $500 million, but many artists were uninsured.  FRONTRUNNER had the opportunity to interview Arielle Sandler, an artist, curator, and founder of The Artist Relief Project.

What inspired the Artist Relief Project post Sandy?

The Artist Relief Project was inspired by an overwhelming desire to help artists get back on their feet post-Sandy.  In the days immediately following Hurricane Sandy, it became clear that the art community was suffering.  While much of the art news coverage focused on flooded galleries, I was particularly concerned about uninsured artists.  Many artists’ studios were severely flooded; the storm destroyed valuable equipment and years of work.  Galleries reopened relatively quickly, but artists are still displaced.  I founded The Artist Relief Project in order to raise funds for and awareness of artists affected by Hurricane Sandy.

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What types of damage did Artist’s face the most?

Some NY artists lost the entire contents of their studios — art, tools, equipment, computers, records, etc.  Other artists from around the world had artwork on consignment in galleries, some of which was damaged or destroyed.  Several studio complexes and shared workspaces were flooded as well.  For example, Smack Mellon Studios estimates their loss at $360,000.  They detail their damage here.  Artists in Westbeth’s artist colony suffered huge losses as well, with one artist in this article estimating her loss at $300,000.  Greenpoint Studios was also hit hard.

How did you curate the print series? Is this a group of all New York Artists?

The first project was an online exhibition of artwork by 20 international artists.  I invited accomplished artists from around the world whose work was strong and whose work I thought would look interesting together.  We donated 50% of the net proceeds to New York Foundation for the Arts Emergency Relief Fund.  During the 19-day exhibition (which ended 12/17), we sold 11 works and raised several thousand dollars for NYFA’s fund. After the exhibition ended, many of us still wanted to contribute to the recovery effort.  The print is our second project.  I curated this archival print with 16 images from the exhibition.

The NYC artists who participated in the EXHIBITION are Holly Miller, Ryan Sarah Murphy, Lauren Purje, Alex Schuchard and Michael Voss.  The NYC artists participating in our new project, the PRINT, are Ryan Sarah Murphy, Lauren Purje and Alex Schuchard.

What is the response so far?  You had an exhibition? Prints are available on a web store?

The response to our first project was great!  As I mentioned (above), we raised several thousand dollars for NYFA’s Emergency Relief Fund.  The first project received favorable press and more than 24,000 unique visitors during the 19-day exhibition.  Not bad for a project with zero marketing budget!  Now, I am starting to announce our second project — an affordable art print.  Hopefully the press will help us spread the word.  Our print is currently available for purchase on our website.  The 20 x 16 inch archival print is priced at $55.  40% of the print’s net proceeds will be donated to NYFA’s Emergency Relief Fund in order to help artists recover from Hurricane Sandy.

What do you have planned for the future?

I have a lot of ideas and see many potential directions for The Artist Relief Project.  I love the idea of doing good while buying art.  The first project was an experiment, and I learned many things that should help make future projects more successful.  I would like to start working on thenext project, but I need to figure out a sustainable financial model (or find a donor) to help cover operating expenses.  (The Artist Relief Project did not receive any money from the first fundraiser; I donated my time to organize, build and market the first exhibition.) Artists are eager to participate in future projects, and I would like for us to support other worthy causes and charities.  Though we started as a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser, I see The Artist Relief Project as an international fundraising platform that provides unique exposure opportunities for talented artists.