Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mark Bradford Lends a Hand

In September, as Calhoun and his son put the finishing touches on one side of the old house, a stranger happened by. He was Mark Bradford, the Los Angeles art star whose gritty urban collages had just won the $100,000 Bucksbaum award at the 2006 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial exhibition in New York.

Bradford had been invited by Contemporary Arts Center curator Dan Cameron to create a work of art for Prospect 1 New Orleans, an 11-week, citywide international art exhibition scheduled to open in November 2008. Bradford plans to create a large-scale Noah's Ark from flood debris. He was out scouting for an ark location in a desolate stretch of the Lower 9th Ward. Appropriately enough, it was raining.

The snowy walls of L9's interior, a tone he recognized as "gallery white," caught his eye. When he spotted one of Calhoun's photos on the mantel, he knew he had discovered an artistic outpost.

He decided to pitch in. Bradford's artwork fetches a pretty penny (He estimates the large collages now on display at the CAC to be worth roughly $200,000 each.). He not only volunteered to donate a medium-sized painting to L9, he helped arrange an impromptu Nov. 3 auction that coincided with a nearby performance of New York art celebrity Paul Chan's "Waiting for Godot" that Bradford knew would draw jet-set art lovers to the neighborhood. Bradford also used what he called "career capital" to lure several of his collectors to the decidedly out-of-the-way auction. The winning bidder paid $60,000 for the painting. Calhoun and McCormick sold several photos, and L9 was kick-started.

Read Doug McCash's entire Times Picayune article, "Home for Art"

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