Wednesday, March 12, 2014

For Martina

Martina Batan began her career in the art world at age 18. Working for Ronald Feldman Fine Arts for more than 30 years, she climbed from an entry level position to Vice President and Director, a position she held until last year, when a major stroke landed her in a rehabilitation facility where she continues to recover. It's been a long, tough road toward recovery and unfortunately there's a long way yet for Martina to go. 

Murat and I were able to visit Martina a few times while her recovery was taking place in the greater New York City area, but for a higher level of care she has been moved to a facility a few hours north and, well, we're still working out a trip up to visit her there. We think about her constantly though, and her circle of extraordinary friends who can visit regularly send updates on her progress. 

If you've never met Martina, you've been missing one of the New York art world's most formidable characters. Her razor sharp wit is matched by a physical and spiritual beauty the likes of which win her life-long fans within moments of meeting her. For a sense of Martina's famously wry humor, as well as her boundless compassion for artists, consider this passage from an account she told to Triple Canopy about "outsider" artist Roy Ferdinand:
Roy was in jail when he started to draw; at least that’s the story. He was a professional artist—he was a professional lot of things, but I think he was very proud of his identity as an artist. He said at one point, "Rembrandt was Rembrandt, Picasso was Picasso, Kandinsky was Kandinsky, and Ferdinand is Ferdinand." At times he did other things for money, for stability, as many artists do.
Despite being the Director in one of New York's most legendary galleries, where many of the giants of contemporary art history have exhibited for decades, Martina is also known for her passion for outsider or self-taught artists. Over the years, she has bought work to support many of them and amassed a considerable collection of work by artists who didn't follow the MFA track (as well as many who did), but as her very expensive recovery has dragged on (and beyond that, this treatment is so difficult for her emotionally and physically), her family and friends have had to consolidate and sell much of her collection to try to cover her expenses. 

I can't tell you how much this breaks my heart. Few people I know in the art world have volunteered for as many non-profit organizations or helped organize as many benefits for them as Martina. Moreover, I've listened to Martina get animated about outsider art for years, and while she's an art dealer and happy to close a deal, I know these were not the circumstances under which she had imagined her prized collection being passed along. 

And so, I make an appeal, for Martina, to those of you who also collect art. The amazing artist Dawn Clements has created a gorgeous portrait of Martina in a limited edition print, the proceeds of which go to help cover Martina's medical expenses. 

The first time I saw the portrait I nearly gasped. It captures Martina's strength and beauty so perfectly. Murat and I have bought ours. I hope you'll consider a purchase to add to your own collection, as well as to help out an insider who has given so much to the art world, both inside and outside.

Inquiries can me made by emailing: the Feldman Gallery Taxes and shipping charges (if necessary) will be applied.

For Martina by Dawn Clements
Pigmented abaca on linen
16 1/4 x 16 1/4 inches 
Edition of 25 (with 2 AP’s reserved for Martina and her mother)
signed verso

Description: Celebrating Martina Batan's vibrant energy and beauty, artist Dawn Clements worked in the Dieu Donné studios to create this limited edition work in handmade paper. Drawn from a photograph in Martina's image archive on Facebook, Clements seized the opportunity to interpret Martina's profile and strength, while incorporating subtleties and tonal gradations available in the paper making process. This work was built in the "wet process" in three layers, and began with a base layer of blue abaca paper, followed by a veil of orange linen paper pulled to have variation across the edition. For the final layer the artist's hand cut stencil was used to create the silhouette. Dawn Clements created the edition in the wet studio with collaborators Amy Jacobs and Lisa Switalski.


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