Saturday, May 17, 2014

Failure Coach XLIV

30 days at the Carlyle

Daniel Bluestone rented a fully furnished apartment in the Carlyle, a luxury high-rise condominium building located in Lakewood, a West Side suburb of Cleveland. Daniel was a creative problem-solver and with the help of the a small army of interns on the payroll at Abbeshire & Bluestone he secured the living quarters in the Carlyle for 30 days, giving him the flexibility to have a base of operations long enough to chase down a few leads. The two bedroom condo had a great view of Lake Erie and was just ten minutes from Downtown. It may have seemed frivolous to staffers at Abbeshire & Bluestone but in just one month’s time Bluestone secured a tentative agreement with Rachel Davis Fine Arts, the appraiser/auction house and the Allen Memorial Art Museum on campus at Oberlin College. Both new accounts agreed to retainer arrangements of a year that included public relations council and strategic planning services. The Alan Edgewater and Alan Edgewater Failure First Scholarship Fund connections translated to easy access. Those two small but related accounts would fortify the growing contemporary art practice. The Carlyle headquarters was lively too, as a natural place for wine and cheese for friends of the galley at the appraiser/auction house. Three such gatherings took place. The first of which included Alan Edgewater, Bob Caster and a gathering invited by Rachel Davis. Rachel found the apartment ideal for intimate, homey yet convenient location. The second gathering included Coach Robert Siena with product from among the Sazerac Brand portfolio and Brie Baker from Oberlin College. The coach and the curator found common ground conversationally not only in discussing the progress of AAFFSF scholar Andrew Valentine but also in early 20th Century American artists such as the Ashcan School, the group of American artists known as the eight. The coach was a fan of a painting he’d seen at the Cleveland Art Museum by George Bellows called Stag at Sharkey’s. Brie Baker knew the work and advised the coach that Bellows, was in fact born in Columbus, Ohio and might have been a professional baseball player but instead pursued painting. As they talked Brie helped the coach understand the link between Bellows, who was a student of Robert Henri at the New York School of Art. George Bellows became associated with Henri's The Eight and the Ashcan School the group of artists who advocated painting contemporary American society in all its forms. Daniel Bluestone was somewhat familiar with the Ashcan School too and pointed out the journalist angle that seemed a part of the artists’ mission.

“Those artists were influenced by what was happening in Europe with Impressionism but also mindful of everyday life in this country. It was not unusual for Bellows and his fellow artists to be paid for magazine illustration work. Today it seems like there is a greater separation between commercial art and fine art,” Said Bluestone as he worked his way into the conversation between the coach and the curator. “It is this whole idea of how art meets commerce that has driven me much of my own career as an art director and now executive creative director and partner of an independent marketing communications firm.”

“Right. I hear ya,” offered the coach “but that Bellows painting at the Cleveland Art Museum, Stag at Sharkey’s is about something. It captures emotion and sport and action. I just don’t get the modern stuff that looks like something a five year old kid could do…”

Brie smiled “You are entitled to your opinion of course.  What defines art now is not the same as what the founders of the Cleveland Art Museum were thinking about in 1916 or at Oberlin a year later in 1917 when our Allen Memorial Art Museum was built.”

Daniel remembers calling Jan that evening with the news of one successful soirĂ©e. It seemed to him that his relationship with Jan was better when it was at arm’s length and on some level about business. This night, as he watched the setting sun on the lake and sipping his Sazarac Rye Whiskey, it was about both. The agency would be able to announce new business from Rachel Davis Fine Arts of Cleveland and the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) at Oberlin College.

Jan was happy about the initial conversations with Via Christi too. The Catholic healthcare services company with operations in 12 Kansas Cities could brag that they were the leading provider of healthcare services in Kansas. Again the AEFFSF connection opened doors. Alicia Apricot’s father Bubba Apricot was a journeyman project manager but he was assigned to the building initiative in Pittsburg, Kansas that would need some skillful marketing to kick off a capital campaign the network hoped would ignite the next wave of growth. Jan noted that the account, based in Kansa, would not likely be in conflict with her current base of business. In  fact, she was hopeful that her Catholic hospital experience would be another plus for Abbeshire & Bluestone

Hardly anyone noticed Katherine Hinds, longtime curator for the Martin Z. Marguiles Foundation in Miami, happened to arrive with a friend late to the party at the third gathering in 30 days at the Carlyle. Katherine enjoyed a glass of white wine and admired the view of Lake Erie in the moonlight. Her friend, a Cleveland gallery owner excused herself to use the restroom. Rachel Davis only met her only briefly but she had her business card and promptly arranged for Katherine Hinds to receive a catalogue of the Victoria Valentine Collection. Catalogues along with handwritten personal notes were sent to Brie Baker, Alan Edgewater, Bob Caster and Jan Abbeshire (all visitors th the Carlyle in that 30-day window). 

No comments: