Crusade for Collecting tour fosters arts conversation

Crusade for Collecting began in April 2013 and formed a national tour of 10 cities over a three-month period. The national tour ended June 5 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The vision of the Crusade, according to founder and curator Jennifer Schwartz, is “to create opportunities to begin a conversation about the value of art. But art should not be talked about, it should be experienced.” And, so the tour began “bringing art to the people and people to the art” at the core, the mission of Crusade for Collecting. Last summer, Schwartz traveled throughout the United States in a 1977 Volkswagen bus affectionately named “Lady Blue”. In each city, she featured five local photographers, each of whom gave away 10 prints to the public and had the opportunity to have a conversation about their work. In each city, new “collectors” were cultivated and more than 500 photographs total were placed in new collections in pop-up exhibits hosted out of Lady Blue.

On June 5, Crusade for Collecting made its final stop of the tour on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (click here to see video of the tour in D.C.). I was among the five photographers showcased and was happy to be in good company with D.C. photographers James Campbell, Frank Hallam Day, Hannele Lahti and Alexandra Silverthorne. Some I have known for a long time, and a few I know online via social media acquaintances or whose work I’ve followed. I first heard about Crusade for Collecting through Kickstarter and the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery e-marketing campaign. I’ve followed the Crusade from the very beginning. My initial response to Jennifer’s invitation to participate in the Crusade was “awesome.” The art world in Washington, D.C., has been good to me and the Crusade provided an opportunity to give back to a community I love and also allowed me to form new connections and have conversations about my work with new individuals. I’m also into the idea of art and social experiment — it was right up my alley. I went into the experience with no expectations and am happy to report it was a beautiful experience. For a personal account of the day, please visit LPS Spotlight: E. Brady Robinson.

Jennifer is no stranger to the photography community at home and abroad. She is the founder of the Jennifer Schwartz Gallery in Atlanta, the creator of Crusade for Art, the creator/curator of online project The Ten and co-creator of Flash Powder Projects. She has a reputation of being an advocate for emerging photographers and is known for creating opportunities for new collectors to engage in art and providing opportunities for exposure for emerging photographers. She frequently participates in portfolio reviews at PhotoNOLA, FotoFest, Atlanta Celebrates Photography, PhotoLucida, among others.

I first met Jennifer when I traveled to exhibit work in the 2011 Lishui Photography Festival in China. She was among 10 American curators who selected work to be on exhibit in “The American Life” produced by Yan Li of High Noon Art & Culture in Beijing, China.

Jennifer travels the country giving talks, lectures at Universities, leads workshops and hosts photographic retreats. On the evening on June 5, FotoDC sponsored her lecture on Crusade for Collecting and the ways artists can use the same principals to build audiences for their work. Her lecture was hosted by the Goethe-Institut in Washington, D.C.

Jennifer’s history of breaking down traditional boundaries of the art world by providing unique experiences for people to engage and interact with art in meaningful ways combined with her advocacy for emerging photographers and grass roots efforts to champion art is simply remarkable. I hope Crusade for Collecting inspires you to create new ways to build audiences for your work. Remember, you are your own best advocate for your work. We’re all in this together.