Arts : Artifacts

Money's only a problem if you don't have any

That's the message behind the Artist Foundation, a planned fund that will provide grants to individual artists for projects or travel. The foundation is the brainchild of artist Bettie Ward and fellow Cultural Arts Board member Patricia Pratchett. "It's something I wanted to do my whole life," says Ward. "Basically, I thought I was going to be really rich, but then I turned out not to be really rich, and I just kind of gave up on the idea."

Until it occurred to Ward that other art advocates might support the idea as well. The first act of the nascent organization was last October's Hair Ball fundraiser at Ácenar, which raised enough goodwill and dough to encourage Pratchett and Ward to push ahead with the idea. Since then, the Office of Cultural Affairs has signed on, offering to foot the bill to bring Cultural Collaborative consultant David Plettner back to town for an October brainstorming session (the Fairmount Hotel, owned by King of the Afterworld Dick Tipps and tile queen Susan Dunis, will put Plettner up during his visit).

Although the Artist Foundation has yet to create bylaws, an application process, or even an official board, it already has its first in memoriam grant. San Antonio's Three Tenors singer George Cortes, who passed away in 2003, left a small sum of money to Ann Ash, who in turn donated the funds to the Artist Foundation. "So our first grant will be $5,000 to a singer, in George's name," says Ward.

Ward and party have also capitalized on the haute oblige competition that Neiman Marcus kicked off when it announced that its September 16 grand opening would be a benefit for Artpace, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Witte Museum. Neiman has also commissioned works by local artists, including painter Nate Cassie, to incorporate in their interior décor. Not to be outdone, on September 8 Saks Fifth Avenue is hosting an art show and benefit party, Brushes with Greatness, in its cosmetic department, featuring paintings by Ward and photography by Dan Borris. All proceeds will benefit the Artist Foundation..

In the meantime, Ward, Pratchett, and a committee of volunteers are busy planning a spring 2006 Hair Do, the sequel to Hair Ball, and building the foundation from the ground up. Interested parties can contact Ward beginning September 1 at [email protected].

By Elaine Wolff

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