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This article by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

August 26, 1998. All rights reserved.

Help & Troubles for Tibet

Saturday, August 29, is the final day for the World

Artists for Tibet exhibition, a 30-artist benefit art show and sale

that has triggered a swirl of controversy rather far removed from

the peaceful ideals of its intended charity.

Organized by Yvonne Amalina DeCarolis at the Montgomery Cultural

Center

1860 House, the two-month show and sale, part of an international

summertime awareness campaign by 3,000 artists in 45 countries, was

supposed to benefit the Tibet Fund and the Siddhartha School for

exiled

Tibetan children in Ladakh, India.

The show’s participating artists include painters Sabrina Gaydos,

Jacob Landau, Chuma Okoli, and Seow-Chu See; and sculptors Gyuri

Hollosy,

Chuck Bonstee, Ray McAdam, and Colleen O’Donnell. Also featured are

printmaker Idaherma Williams, photographer Frank Cody, poet and

sculptor

Peter Chinni, book binder Chris Russo, and performing artist John

Brzostoski.

There is still no word on the recovery of 10 works stolen from the

show sometime after its installation by DeCarolis on Friday, July

3. Stolen were three photographs by Tibetan Sonam Zoksang; a silk

painting by Teresa Prashad; the oil painting "Day Meets Night"

by Sabrina Gaydos of Montclair; four digital prints by Nancy Nagle;

and the painting "Heavenly Lotus" by Maria Owens (who,

following

the theft, created a painting of the Dalai Lama to hang in its place).

DeCarolis, New Jersey volunteer coordinator of World Artists for

Tibet,

estimates a final total of $4,000 will be realized from show sales

and donations. Just two works were sold at the show’s July 12 gala

opening, attended by some 350 people. The only other proceeds came

as ticket sales for the opening gala, T-shirt sales, donations, and

an outdoor concert by Chuck Carpenter and Michael Mironov of Dancing

Water. Donations can still be made to World Artists for Tibet-NJ,

73 Millstone Road, Cranbury 08512. The World Artists for Tibet website

is at www.art4tibet98.org.

A social worker, community organizer, and artist, DeCarolis has been

involved in Tibetan issues for 17 years. Her goal for the show was

to "bring in significant proceeds that I can send back to Tibet

for the care and education of refugee children."

The Montgomery Cultural Center will receive a 30 percent commission

on the sale of artwork, and a portion of the concert ticket sales.

Donations collected at the site go exclusively to the charities.

An optimist at heart, DeCarolis now says that the show’s disappointing

sales, combined with the theft, lack of insurance, and other issues,

have been burdensome. "Certain people have been great supporters.

But there have been major headaches that have me disillusioned about

the Montgomery center and its future."

The non-profit, cultural arts center opened in October, 1995, and

was in the process of getting estimates on an alarm system before

the theft occurred, says Carol Hanson, president. "For three years

we’ve never had a problem. This was our first theft, and a lot of

people have known how to get into the building," she says. With

the exception of part-time administrator Mimi Danson, the center is

run exclusively by volunteers.

"We’re a community center. We were very welcoming to this

organization,

it’s too bad this happened. We show a lot of people. We do a major

show for the children of the Montgomery schools, that’s a major show

for us. This show had a very big audience on its first day; they have

their own audience," says Hanson. "We got very little out

of it."

In relation to the robbery, DeCarolis says signs on

windows and doors of the 1860 House indicated to her that the premises

were connected to a silent alarm at the Montgomery Police Station.

There was no alarm system, and the Montgomery Police have told her

the theft is almost impossible to investigate since 80 people had

access to the building via its combination lock.

Connie Gray, the center’s exhibition co-chairperson with Lee Stang

Harr, says the show’s poor sales doesn’t surprise her. "We’re

new and aren’t widely known yet," she says, so the number of

visitors

to the show at other times was small. "They had wonderful press

for the opening, but you have to have events to get people to come

out again." She says that for the center’s professional artists’

shows, each artist invites their own supporters, and relies on this

list for visitors and sales.

Gray says each participating artist was informed by the center of

its very limited insurance coverage. She noted that, "when Garden

State Watercolor Society shows here, it recommends to each

participating

member that they secure their own insurance." DeCarolis disagrees

on this point.

"This may have been Connie’s intention, but it was not brought

to the artists’ attention, nor to my attention when I delivered

certain

artists’ work for them," she says. "My letter to the show’s

participants, which was reviewed by a couple of members of the board

who came to our meeting, told participating artists that the center

had limited insurance of $15,000 per exhibit. These board members

reviewed the letter, and made some changes. But the letter went out

with this information."

Now DeCarolis has been told by Selective Insurance that the policy

is a secondary, not a primary policy. Only artists who cannot collect

from their own insurance carrier are covered, and they will receive

no more than 60 percent of the stated value of their work (and this

stated value may be contested by the insurer). DeCarolis says she

will press to receive full compensation to each artist who suffered

a loss as a result of the theft.

Gray says she had also hoped to give the show less than its standard

30 percent commission on sales, but the board, while applauding the

idea, felt that to do so would set a precedent for all future

"worthy"

causes who might want to exhibit there.

Hanson deplores all the press attention given to the theft and points

instead to how much the center has contributed to the community’s

cultural life — some 50 events and exhibitions over the past year.

And in fact the center’s fall season begins on Friday, September 4,

from 6 to 8 p.m. with an opening reception for "Watercolorists

Unlimited," a 60-work group show by the New Jersey artists’ group.

Also opening that evening, with a reception in the upstairs gallery,

is a group show of pastels by three members of the center’s

professional

artists’ group, Lee Stang Harr, Barbara Harding Seibert, and Patrice

Sprovieri. Both shows continue to September 30.

— Nicole Plett

World Artists for Tibet, Montgomery Cultural Center,

1860 House, 124 Montgomery Road, 609-921-3272. Through Saturday,

August

29. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.

to 3 p.m.

Watercolorists Unlimited, Montgomery Cultural

Center ,

1860 House. Opening reception Friday, September 4, from 6 to 8 p.m.

for "Watercolorists Unlimited," a group show by the New Jersey

artists group. Also a pastel show by Lee Stang Harr, Barbara Harding

Seibert, and Patrice Sprovieri.


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