The Local Take Talks the Business of Art with Artist Steve Allen

Sep 18, 2021

Legend by Steve Allen in commemoration of Hank Aaron and his 715th Homerun part of the AUC Woodruff Library Donation

This week on WCLK's The Local Take(Saturdays 8am), we're talking art and legacy with artist Steve Allen. Allen is part of a Multimillion-dollar HBCU Gifting Initiative to Demand Equity in the Business of Art. Allen was born in North Carolina. Although he didn't receive formal art training, his art is part of the founding and permanent collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. He has served as the official artist for eight Olympic Games, including the 1996 Games held in Atlanta. He recently donated The gift of artworks to the AUC Woodruff Library, valued at $370,000.

This donation includes six limited-edition Gicleés:

1- "Freedom Journey," of former President Barack Obama and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; 

2- "Battle of New Orleans," created for the 40th Bayou Classic; 

3- "Iola McLeod," a portrait of Allen's paternal grandmother;

4- "Coming Full Circle," return to the 2004 Olympics (Athens);

5- "Torino Olympiqué," the 2006 Winter Olympics (Italy); and 

6- "The Legend" (Hank Aaron) commemorating the 25th anniversary of Aaron's 715th record-breaking home run.  

I ask Allen to explain the business of art. He speaks about buying and selling art. He goes on to share that the business of art allows you to build generational wealth. He says that in 2020 through auctions, art was a $50 billion industry. 

 He explains that it is challenging to receive equity in art if the value is through a Eurocentric model. Black artists need to have their works valued by people who understand the art. Valuations aren't subjective. It is based on the artist's work, what museums have acquired from the artist, and other factors. Allen says that 

Steve Allen - NBAF - The artist and his art

  African-Americans make up only 4% of museum professionals trained to curate art. 

I mention Faron Manuel, an alum of CAU, who works in the Business of Art, and ask how we can expose our community to these opportunities. He speaks about the curatorial program at Spelman and encourages artists to learn about the business side of their arena. 

Allen shares that often collectors look at art to complement their décor and worry about the framing. He says that we should buy a piece of art based on the art. 

Often in our community, we spend more on the frame than the actual artwork. Allen encourages us to become educated on art and use our collections to enrich generations to come.

   

For more information on artist Steve Allen