DECEMBER 2012 | Jason A. Zwiker
50 MOST PROGRESSIVE
Rebekah Jacob Cutting Edge Curator
Local gallery owner Rebekah Jacob is paving the way for Charleston to become a better place for art and artists. There is a burning desire to fight for an even bigger and better art scene in the Southern city that she loves. Stroll through her King Street gallery and you will feel the power of this desire. Whether she is describing the upcoming release of a book of Civil Rights Era photography or a multimedia exhibit by contemporary artists, her knowledge and passion shine through her every word. And with Rebekah at the helm, Charleston’s artistic side has one fierce captain.
NOVEMBER 2, 2012 | Charleston, 31 October 2012, Art Media Agency (AMA)
“Andy Warhol- Factory Films”
at Rebekah Jacob’s Gallery in South Carolina
The Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina will be presenting on 8 November, one night only, “Andy Warhol- Factory Films” with the collaboration of the Terrace Theater. The experimental films of the American pop-artist Andy Warhol date from the 1960s and reflect the diversity of the artist in the field of cinema.
Most of the films were inspired by the characters that used to go to Warhol’s well-known loft studio, that he called “The Factory” and also by the underground films of Ron Rice and Taylor Mead. His films were, and still are considered as voyeuristic, hilarious, and even though he used a static camera they show the artist boldness for film.
The screening will display three short films and will begin at 7pm. Tickets are available on www.terracetheater.org. There will also be limited-edition prints of Warhol’s themes in commemoration of the event, available directly at the gallery or through the gallery’s online shop.
WHAT ARE YOUR WORKS OF ART ACTUALLY WORTH?
It’s no secret that Charleston and the American South possess a rich, historic, and vibrant art scene. From centuries-old collections to modern mediums and perspectives, our beloved region is peppered with treasures, masterpieces –– and trinkets. What separates the artwork in museums and fine home collections from chotchkies and forgeries is their actual, appraised valuation.
I sat down with Rebekah Jacob, one of a rare few in Charleston who are actually certified fine art appraisers. Jacob earned a B.A. in English and M.A. in Art History at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). She also holds a Certificate in Appraisal Studies in Fine and Decorative Arts from New York University.
I challenged her with a series of impromptu questions to ascertain better the fundamental approach to fine art appraisals, and to understand why the arts market in Charleston is a subtle rising tide.
BCH: Rebekah, what makes you tick academically? And what is your primary art focus?
Jacob: Having spent most of my life in the South, I am by default more passionate and knowledgeable about material related to my region. I studied many significant Southern authors who juxtaposed their text with extraordinary pictures. My favorite photojournalists were Eudora Welty, Walker Evans and Doris Ulman.
Being fascinated by “motion makers” over time, I developed a calling towards civil rights photography and Cuban revolutionary photography –– timeless images that document those who socially change the world.
I grew up along the Mississippi Delta and then attended Ole Miss, so to me civil rights imagery was ubiquitous. In my early 20s, I traveled and developed a skill set for Cuban photography alongside an early mentor, Milly Moorhead. She was the proprietor of Southside Gallery where I worked during graduate school.
Ahead of the trend, Milly had begun collecting and brokering Cuban photography extensively. She handled the works of “the greats”: Osvaldo Salas, his son Roberto Salas, and Alberto Korda who captured the famous Che Guevara bust. I mean, wow!
So in 2007 I organized my own Cuban photography show here in Charleston, with Milly’s assistance. Thanks to the Charleston Mercury’s coverage I nearly sold out. I continue to spend a great amount of time and energy seeking and appraising and brokering Cuban photography and artwork –– but only if I can meet the artist or agent personally, and ideally travel to where they worked originally.
BCH: Why do art appraisals matter so much?
Jacob: First, there is no independent monograph on decoding an artwork’s value. Secondly, fine art can be either an appreciating asset or a diminishing commodity. On average, high-quality artwork should be appraised every 3-5 years.
Primarily, art is formally appraised to document its accurate valuation for insurance purposes. Potential sales or acquisitions, estate planning, or donations and tax-write off purposes are close-second motivations for art appraisals. Depending on where the artwork is situated –– in someone’s home, office, attic, even in storage, the first step is for me to view the artwork in person and begin the process.
BCH: How do art owners know if they possess a highly valued gem?
Jacob: One recent example of “artwork luck” is the viral news story about a newly discovered landscape, allegedly painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. A Baltimore-born woman purchased the artwork at a West Virginia flea market for $7, its true value unbeknownst to the seller, of course.
This lost Renoir is presumed to fetch from $75,000 to $100,000 at auction, according to Anne Norton Cramer, the fine-arts specialist for Potomac Company, the Alexandria, Virginia auction house overseeing the sale.
One hyped-up, televised form of attic and garage sale finds is The Antique Road Show, whereby rural family heirlooms may be gems or junk. My core message is that to know what your art is worth, owners must set aside their emotions or passions and accept the truthful appraisal range.
BCH: What affects the artwork’s value, and what are you looking for in determining its range?
Jacob: To own highly-valued gems, one must seek them out carefully based a 7-point framework of key factors. 1) Artist, 2) medium, 3) provenance, 4) size, 5) rarity, 6) condition, and 7) frame. I can’t give away all my secrets freely, but RJG’s painstaking process documents each key factor in a final appraisal.
BCH: What about our regional art markets? Have you seen any noticeable shifts in value?
Jacob: I’m wildly excited that Charleston has accelerated its contem- porary art scene, progressing way beyond just “Rainbow Row tourist art.” At the helm of this shift are key local institutions such as The Halsey Institute, the Gibbes Museum, and Redux. They are each exhibiting more contemporary art on diverse mediums, and ultimately attracting a plethora of worldly viewers and buyers to Charleston.
BCH: How has recent history or current political affairs impacted local artwork valuations?
Jacob: Since Obama’s election in 2008, there has been a resurgence of investment into civil rights photography. And so Southern photography is on fire right now, mainly due to its human candor and setting authenticity.
Further, as second homeowners semi-relocate to Charleston from “Anywhere, USA,” these diverse art patrons are deeply interested in acquiring fine photography or paintings or custom furniture that relate to and evoke the Southern region, authentically.”
Young photography stars such as Ben Gately Williams, from Indiana, and Eliot Dudick from “some sheep farm in the middle of Pennsylvania,” not only live here in Charleston now –– both of these men have been voted into the “Top 100 Superstars of the American South” by Oxford American.
Charleston media has always been very kind to the arts, local artists, and all forms of artwork, and so the “provenance” of regional work over the last 50 to 100 years has greatly appreciated in value.
BCH: How has the financial aspect of owning artwork changed recently?
Jacob: In today’s economy, fine art can only be a creative expansion of your investment portfolio if it has both intrinsic value to you, and actual financial value in the marketplace. Pending family wishes, artwork may be gifted to certain heirs, presided over in divorce, or liquidated. In some cases, artwork may be used as collateral for a loan, or parted with to send children to college. Some artwork may be leased to a museum or transported for sale elsewhere for a period of months [without transferring ownership]. In all these cases, a formal valuation is still the first step.
BCH: What types of appraisal cases can you discuss, anonymously of course?
Jacob: Yes, for privacy reasons, I can only speak generally. I have appraised many collections and individual pieces, and there have been some very interesting outcomes. One client’s spouse had purchased a group of paintings from a “starving artist from the South” well over 50 years ago. His widow had us digging through the attic, under the beds, in drawers and closets, ultimately amassing 30 or so paintings valued between $285,000 and $315,000. She had considered taking them to Goodwill before our conversation and meeting.
Of course art is susceptible to fashion, so there have been clients who began collecting photography more than 30 years ago when only a few dealers, curators, and collectors were actually paying attention to the medium. Today, their photography collection is now worth millions.
On the other hand, sometimes clients are mislead and purchase artwork hastily via eBay, illegitimate dealers, or otherwise. One couple came to me having paid an astonishing amount for an Andy Warhol. Turns out, due to forgery, the piece is worth nickels, maybe dimes. The lesson is that it is important to be thorough, endure the short appraisal process, and document the details before assuming value or rendering a decision –– on either side of any artwork transaction.
BCH: So what’s next for Rebekah Jacob Gallery?
Jacob: Well, we’ve thankfully moved from a tiny 169 King Street space to a giant 502 Upper King Street space during the last six months. I’m thankful to Chris and Patrick Price at Prime South for solving our rental need so quickly. Because RJG has so much more wall and floor space now, we are able to co-host more art exhibitions each month, engage bigger lectures, and allow larger private events in the evenings.
The gallery’s three-part business strategy during this past summer was to double our physical inventory and insurance by bringing in more rare and highly-valued collections, triple our private and VIP events schedule, and engage multi-city mobility transacting, acquiring, appraising, or lecturing both in and beyond Charleston.
Key cities have been New Orleans, Miami, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. RJG will be participating in more national and international art fairs next year, including co-hosting an exclusive Karales show in the spring of 2013. Now that Charleston has proven to be such a national hub for fine arts and photography, I’m excited to keep moving forward.
Friday, October 5, 2012 – Sunday, OCTOBER 7, 2012 | Washington, DC USA
DC Fine Art Photography Fair
In celebration of the first annual DC Fine Art Photography Fair. Presenting select works from artists including: Colby Caldwell, William Christenberry, Don Donaghy (Estate), Godfrey Frankel (Estate), Max Hirshfeld, Franz Jantzen, Tanya Marcuse, Kendall Messick, Anne Rowland, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Julie Wolfe.
The DC Fine Art Photography Fair will feature 15 established fine art photography galleries from across the United States, with representative samples from their gallery inventories. An extraordinary range of photographs, from 19th century images to cutting-edge contemporary visions, will be on display and available for purchase.
Charleston Fine Art Guide
Rebekah Jacob Gallery UPTOWN
Rebekah Jacob Gallery’s principal focus is the representation of an international group of contemporary artists whose diverse practices include painting, works on paper, photography and video. Since its founding, the gallery has subscribed to the highest level of connoisseurship and scholarship with an in-depth focus on modern art and photography of the American South. Each artist has exhibited widely in the US and abroad and is included in museum and corporate collections. The gallery adheres to a rigorous curatorial model and maintains an accelerated exhibition schedule, non-media specific, that features emerging contemporary artists, as well as artists from all generations. The gallery is located in historic downtown Charleston, SC.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2012 | John N. Wall
Photography at Rebekah Jacob Gallery This Fall
The Rebekah Jacob Gallery in Charleston shows mainly photography, and a fine job with it Rebekah Jacob does, too.
Her brick-and-mortar gallery has just recently expanded to a larger space in Charleston. The October show in the Gallery will feature work by Richard Sexton from his Charleston to Cuba portfolio, a body of work exploring the relationships between Charleston and Cuba, and the larger Caribbean.
Jacob is also developing ways of exhibiting and marketing photography on her website, which currently is featuring Atlanta-based photographer Jerry Siegel.
Jacob has started a special program on her website calledFILTER: Photography for the Young Collector, which currently has on exhibition a show of 28 photographs at prices making them accessible to all collectors.
Included in this show is work by Siegel, Richard Sexton, and other well-known photographers, as well as rising young stars like Ben Williams, Cyle Suesz and Eliot Dudik.
Jacob is earning well-deserved national recognition for her gallery. It has just been named one of 15 established fine art photography galleries from across the United States to be included in this year's DC Fine Art Photography Fair, to be held Friday, October 5-Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 2801, 16th Street, NW, in Washington, DC.
Jacob will be showing B+W images by Ernest Wither, Keliy Anderson Staley, and Kendall Messick (see above) at this show.
Our congratulations go out to Jacob, and all best wishes for continued success and recognition.
JULY 19, 2012 | Rebekah Jacob
My father Les Jacob, was an entrepreneur. He exuded leadership and confidence—on his desk was a sign that read, “NO WHINING.”
Governor Haley’s recent vetoes included one that would knock out government funding for a key arts organization—these kinds of cuts are an ever-present issue of our times. Whether you live in Charleston, South Carolina, or Omaha, Nebraska, leaders on both sides of the aisle across the nation are working diligently to balance budgets; most states are in a deep hole, the numbers flashing bright red. This particular decision has since been overturned, and funding for the Arts Commission restored. But it certainly won't be the last time financial support is threatened—not in these precarious times, which begs the question: “How do we progress?”
In regard to this matter, on April 12, 2012, The Economist featured Italian director Antonio Manfredi protesting the indifference and cutting of government funding of the visual arts by burning over 1,000 prized pieces from the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum in Naples. For more than a week, Manfredi and various artists created “meta-art:” a pyre of burning paintings, drawings, and sculptures. “The museum is running the risk of dying...” Manfredi continued, as he set artworks alight.
I found the story a conundrum to its publication, which typically celebrates figures of commerce and features innovation. Instead of mourning and expecting funds that did not exist, perhaps Manfredi (and the artists) could have thought outside the box. After all, in the the visual arts, isn't that is our forté?
Why not aggressively create new art? Advance membership for the museum? Raise money through speaking engagements? Ask for private donations? Create festive gatherings that lure collectors of all demographics while also raising funds? Sell off valued pieces for operating capital, instead of lighting them on fire? Instead, Manfredi destroyed rare and high-quality inventory that cannot be replaced, exhibited to lure visitors who pay entry fees, or listed on the museums' balance sheet. Significantly, the director sent a message of negativity, exhaustion, and finite.
How? Commitment to commerce, risk, innovation, and community. To move forward, here are tangible ideas:
BUY LOCAL! Dollars are physical signs of support. Peruse local art galleries and make purchases small or large so that currency continues to circulate among the local art scene. In doing so, one can support the local galleries and contribute to artists living and working in the city. Talk is cheap. Transactions add value.
BE INVOLVED! A fantastic example is Society 1858, a local engine for growing a young donor base for the Gibbes Museum. The group continues to grow its member base. It has gained hundreds of members and raised over $25,000 for art purchases for the museum. This group has raised every cent via positive energy, hustle, commitment, and connections. President Helen Pratt Thomas, tasked with the sustainability and continuity of the Gibbes' Society 1858, welcomes your involvement.
VIEW! The Halsey (obviously I am a BIG fan) installed Moit Toi. Over 8,000 viewers visited the installation. And over 300 threw salt into the sea.This exhibit was a record breaker! Each gallery opens its doors for the First Friday night art walk. So get out into the art community, be proactive, view, and support. Not complain.
PATRONIZE! The Halsey Museum is brilliant in creating tiers of support from a $25 donation to the sky's limitlessness. If you choose to be a Halsey Patron, earmark funds for an exceptional piece of art to grow your collection and support the arts. Markets, jobs, and the arts cannot be funded by the government. Everything under the sun requires paying customers to remain sustainable.
Regardless of the decision(s) made by Governor Haley and her congress, we as a community must make conscious decisions that continue to propel local and national art scenes onto international stages of recognition. As Charlestonians, we live in an incubator of creativity and diverse wealth; so, despite South Carolina's funding decisions from year to year, the art world still has a bright future ahead. Akin to the brilliant artists we love and support, let’s envision and execute fresh ideas that otherwise would never be imagined.
Let us do so via commerce, risk, innovation, and community. And without government hand-outs or whining.
MARCH 2012 | Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards
Charleston’s Most Stylish 2012
Ten local tastemakers get in the groove, talking fashion, trends, and being yourself. Meet 10 “Most Stylish” who set the bar for personal style and get their two cents on fashion, beauty, and what not to wear. Rebekah Jacob plugs likes and dislikes in the fashion feature of Charleston Magazine…
Owner and curator of Rebekah Jacob Gallery
WHAT I LIKE:
Lace. Its painstaking craftsmanship combined with brilliant design is so delicate yet makes the boldest and sexiest of statements.
WHAT I DISLIKE:
Projecting more than your appearance so that your audience—one or thousands—wants to know you.
The Grace Kelly era—clean lines and simple silhouette accented with stilettos.
Red lipstick—I apply it like lip balm.