Wednesday, November 28, 2007

There's Something About Bill: Political Canvases

A version of this story appeared in the Santa Fe Reporter.

There's Something About Bill: Political Canvases
NM artists brush up on Bill’s campaign.
By Dave Maass

Question: Can 65 local artists be wrong about Bill?

Answer: Not if they haven’t really made a decision yet.

Bill’s campaign is throwing an art show on Nov. 29 at the Hilton Santa Fe, called—for lack of a better name—“The Great Art Event.” Tickets are $250 for two, and approximately 100 patrons will be guaranteed a random piece of art donated by 65 local artists. The gala will likely be a who’s who of the local art scene, including First Lady Barbara Richardson, who will be on hand to dole out the prizes personally.

Calculated out, the event should raise at least $12,500 for Bill’s campaign. That really isn’t a whole lot, considering that, with the $2,300 maximum contribution limit, he could raise just as much chatting up half a dozen wealthy retirees.

In the end, it looks as if it’s the art patrons who will be coming out on top. At $125 a pop, they’ll be getting a steal depending on whose art they win. For example, photographer Cathy Maier Callanan estimates her three donated works—including a portrait of the late local eccentric and artist Tommy Macione—are worth approximately $1,000 on the open art market.

For the artists, donating work seems to be less an endorsement and more a thank you to the Richardsons, particularly Barbara, for supporting the arts. Michael Namingha, for example, who’s donating a 9-by-11 inkjet print of his word-art, says he hasn’t picked a candidate yet. However, Richardson is a friend of his father’s, Dan Namingha, who also is contributing art to the cause.

Perhaps, pro-Bill artists aren’t unlike other pro-Bill fence sitters: They tend to like Bill, but they’re not willing to commit to him unless he can prove he’s a viable candidate. Considering that Bill’s narrowed the gap between himself and John Edwards in New Hampshire to within a point, that may not be too far off.

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