An international conference in Atlanta will spotlight St. Louis artists who took part in a festival designed to highlight local racial and socioeconomic divisions.
Hope Global Forums is a nonprofit that brings businesses together to help people in underserved communities. The group’s conference is expected to draw nearly 4,000 top business leaders from around the world, St.Art founder Michael Tompkins said.
“This is probably the best audience that we could imagine having: CEOs of places like Delta and AT&T communications, Gallup Poll, MasterCard,” Tompkins said.
Despair and hope
Ten visual artists including Basil Kincaid, Cbabi Bayoc, Dail Chambers and the street artist known as finnch participated in the St.ART Festival over the Sept. 30-Oct. 1 weekend.
During the first day, artists created work depicting despair. On the second day, they focused on hope. The public was invited to watch and also work on their own 8 by 10-foot canvass each day.
For the artists, the exposure immediately increased the value of their work, according to Tompkins.
“All the artists have really lifted in price,” Tompkins said.
Grants totaling $300,000 funded the St.ART event and paid the artists for their time.
The entire St.ART collection of 24 piece is now worth $500,000, Tompkins said. But he plans to display the collection in several U.S. cities before selling it.
The St.ART group also plans to publish a book, “Catharsis,” just before the March 26-28 conference. It will include the art as well as the words of two poets who took part in the festival. All proceeds benefit St.ART, along with three local organizations including St. Louis ArtWorks, which offers paid art internships to teenagers.
Tompkins approached numerous local politicians, business owners and arts professionals about exhibiting the work in St. Louis, but found no takers. He’s still looking to book a local exhibition.
“I really feel like we will eventually come around,” Tompkins said. “But, you know, the fact that people are coming around outside of St. Louis — it feels good.”
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