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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
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
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
Chuck Bonstee, Ray McAdam, and Colleen O’Donnell. Also featured are
printmaker Idaherma Williams, photographer Frank Cody, poet and
Peter Chinni, book binder Chris Russo, and performing artist John
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,
the theft, created a painting of the Dalai Lama to hang in its place).
DeCarolis, New Jersey volunteer coordinator of World Artists for
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
artists’ group, Lee Stang Harr, Barbara Harding Seibert, and Patrice
Sprovieri. Both shows continue to September 30.
— Nicole Plett
1860 House, 124 Montgomery Road, 609-921-3272. Through Saturday,
29. Hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.
to 3 p.m.
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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