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VIDEO: State of the Art


Sunday, November 08, 2020

This afternoon the United Way of Jamaica will make history by hosting the nation's first online live art auction — State of the Art.

Art Basel Hong Kong was the first significant art fair affected by the pandemic. It responded, like many festivals celebrating arts and culture, by moving its experience online. It was nothing like experiencing it in real life. Plot twist: Sales were robust. This year's arts and cultural celebrations did not vanish — they just looked different. From Reggae Sumfest to the country's National Honours, annually anticipated events had to “wheel and come again”. The United Way of Jamaica has embraced this spirit.

“The year 2020 will be remembered for forcing us to innovate and do things differently. The 35-year-old United Way of Jamaica has not resiled from this challenge. Out of its embrace of change, the idea of a live online fund-raising art auction, with bids via Zoom technology, and live streaming to media platforms, was born, a first of its kind in Jamaica. The artist community has been outstanding in its response,” said chair of the United Way of Jamaica Board of Governors Marcia Forbes.

Beginning at 5:00 pm, 105 lots of fine Jamaican art from new and established artists will be auctioned (visit to register). What the United Way of Jamaica has done with State of the Art is highlight that the typical engagement with art has changed. However, that interaction can still be relevant, meaningful and instrumental, though socially distant or remote.

Many of the artists whose works are being auctioned have agreed to donate 30% of sales to the United Way, while a significant number will give 100%. Over 30 lots were gifted to the local charity that, since its inception in 1985, has provided grants exceeding J$1.8 billion to assist various agencies and fund projects. Some of the artists whose works will be auctioned include George Lawson, Claudia Porges Beyer, Mazola Wa Mwashighadi, Carvil Gunter, Danielle Powell, Faith Rowe, Ewan McAnuff, Ken Abendana Spencer, Samere Tansley, Vilya Thomas, Craig Phang Sang, Gloria Escoffery, Shana Gail Young, and Ras Dizzy.

The curation of the lots was expertly done; kudos to co-curators Marcia Forbes and Sharon Lake. There is artwork to appeal to the most discerning of collectors. The lots, although for charity, have been expertly categorised by emerging talent, contemporary works, forerunners, intuitive, works on paper, fine art prints, and ceramics and assemblage.

In the words of Forbes, “COVID-19 may prove to be that assault to bring us to real recognition of our common humanity and fire our imagination toward a more sustainable future.”

SO2 is pleased to share a few of the works available for auction during this afternoon's State of the Art.