Fall for Art fundraiser marks 25th anniversary, virtually

From the tower of Kingston City Hall. (John Fischer)

“You can never have enough artwork.” So says Barbara Cohen of the Jewish Federation of Ulster County, organizer of Fall for Art, the Federation’s biggest annual fundraising event. Now in its 25th year, Fall for Art used to be a gala juried art show and party hosted at various fancy venues, but this year it will be continuing in the virtual mode initiated in 2020, running as an online art sale from October 23 to 29.

“It’s normally an in-person event,” Cohen explains. “But we couldn’t do that last year because of COVID. We already had Mike Rice of Net Prophet, who designs our website, so we decided to hire a graphic artist, Supattra Samanyaphon, to take the artists’ images and create a gallery for each artist.”

Another change in 2020 was to increase the artists’ share of their online sales from 60 percent to 70 percent, since the overhead for the event was reduced so drastically when it went virtual. The host organization traditionally keeps only a small portion of the proceeds, passing along the majority of its share to human service organizations in the region. Beneficiaries of Fall for Art 2021 will include the Hudson Valley Food Bank, Jewish Family Services, HealthAlliance’s Oncology Support Services, People’s Place and, for the first time this year, Circle of Friends for the Dying and the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center.

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Remarkably, says Cohen, Fall for Art 2020 was “fabulously successful. People had six days to shop, and people bought all over the US. We actually raised more money than ever before.”

Planning for the event each year gets underway in February, which means that vaccines weren’t even available when the organizers had to decide how to go about hosting Fall for Art 2021 and opted to continue what had worked so well last year. “We did not know what was going to be, in terms of safety. We all feel that we made the right decision.”

Justin Love

The artists who will participate this year are 33 in number, and a few of them are new to the event: Denise Aumick (textiles), Shulamit Elson (lithographs), Dale Wolfield (ceramics) and Heidi Spadter (jewelry). Suzanne Neusner, a new entrant last year, will be bringing back her popular quilts.

A number of old Fall for Art hands who hadn’t been seen in some years will be returning: painters Leslie Bender, Lynne Friedman and Justin Love; greeting-card maker Patti Gibbons; and clockmaker Leonie Lacouette. Cohen is particularly excited over the return of Luminist painter Jane Bloodgood-Abrams, a veteran of the first-ever Fall for Art show in 1996 who likes to show up on major anniversaries like the tenth and 20th.

Also on the 2021 roster of artists are jewelrymakers Harriet Forman Barrett, Janet Baskerville, Sara Beames, Susan Carey, Liz Horn and Ron Zukor, Helen Hosking, Lorraine LeClair, Lissa Queeney Matthews and Marysa Sacerdote; textile artists Alexa Ginsburg and Deborah Thackery-Mills; wood-turner John Franklin; photographers John Fischer, Joel Mandelbaum and Bentley Potter; painters Monica R. Cohen, Carol Pepper-Cooper, Maxine Davidowitz and Louise Lefkovits; ceramists Neville Bean and Sally Rothchild; and paper-cutter Glenn Grubard.

Sales get underway at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 23 and continue until 5 p.m. on Friday, October 29. Purchasers will be entered in drawings for $100 gift certificates to be held on Sunday and again on Wednesday, Cohen says. You can already get a look at some samples of the artists’ work at www.fallforart.org/2021-artists.

Clouds Over the River. (Jane Blood Abrams)

Cohen, who organizes the event along with fellow committee members Sara Beames, Sloane Grubard, Louise Lefkovits, Darlene Levit and Sue Worthman, admits that asking people to support these artists via a website “can be challenging, since they’re not able to touch the work or see it up close. That can be hard on the buyers and the artists.” Still, the unexpected success of last year’s event speaks for itself. A virtual component might continue to be included, even after arts patrons are able to congregate in a social setting once again. “There’s nothing like human connection. If we could be in person, that would be nice.”

Perhaps in 2022, we’ll again be able to schmooze with local artists over cocktails and dinner at some lovely events venue. Meanwhile, mark your calendar and don’t forget to check out Fall for Art’s silver-anniversary selections online.