| Art |

Oolite Arts Steps Up to Help Miami's Art Community

Income loss from closings and cancellations is pushing Michael Loveland out of the studio where he has worked for 14 years.
Income loss from closings and cancellations is pushing Michael Loveland out of the studio where he has worked for 14 years.
Photo courtesy of Oolite Arts
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A few weeks ago, Michael Loveland was taking part in an artist-in-residence program at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center outside of Aspen, Colorado.

"I got back on March 9, and everything since then has been canceled, postponed for a year at the earliest, or died altogether," Loveland says. "A lot of large projects that take years of planning were canceled, and my gallery, [LnS Gallery]. is closed — every show possibility was canceled until further notice. Basically, everything stopped, and it's crushing."

Born and raised in Miami, Loveland, now 47, has firsthand experience with large-scale emergencies interrupting his workflow. The difference, he notes, is there's no escaping the effects of the novel coronavirus, no matter where you go.

"You can prepare for a hurricane, and after a few weeks you're able to bounce back," Loveland says. "The fact that there's no timeline [for COVID-19] and it's international is the big killer."

As a self-employed artist, Loveland doesn't qualify for unemployment or other government assistance. (At least not yet.) Loveland's wife, Katrin, a yoga instructor, is teaching virtual classes online and earning a fraction of her usual income. They have two children, Cy, who's 11, and Bindi, 16.

Over recent decades, as Art Basel anointed Miami the center of the art world (for a week each year, anyway) and learning institutions like the New World School of the Arts keep churning out artists, Miami's art community has grown.

Oolite Arts, which started in 1984 as ArtCenter/South Florida, has been around long enough to nurture some artists through long careers — and it's still around. So perhaps it only makes sense that the Miami Beach-based nonprofit would step up to help visual artists like Loveland in their time of need.

On Thursday the organization inaugurated the Oolite Arts Relief Fund for COVID-19, seeding it with $25,000 in funds repurposed from canceled programming.

“Like many Miami-Dade residents, our visual artists often live paycheck to paycheck, and the stories we are hearing are heartbreaking,” Oolite president and CEO Dennis Scholl said in a statement. “Our founder, Ellie Schneiderman, saw Oolite Arts as a resource for visual artists, a place that would ‘help artists help themselves.’ The fund is the latest expression of that mission.”

The fund, which pays up to $500, is open to visual artists in Miami-Dade County who have lost income to job loss or scrapped commissions or exhibitions. The money will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, with applications accepted through April 16.

"Every little bit helps, and I'm grateful to be able to apply for something like this," says Loveland. While the money will come in handy during the crisis, he says, he has also had to reassess what he actually needs to be a working artist. On that score, he is preparing to move out of the 2,000-square-foot studio where he has worked for the past 14 years and into a space half that size that he'll share with another artist.

"I love my studio, but working at the Anderson Ranch in a much smaller space and being able to create what I think is great work is really reassuring and put in my mind that I should consider downsizing to save some money. The rent for my studio, at $2,000 a month, is well over what I pay for my mortgage every month. I just can't afford it anymore."

Beyond physical downsizing, Loveland predicts the pandemic's effects will force a recalibration in the art world, especially when it comes to the value of works.

"I think it got way too expensive, and people are becoming way more realistic," he says. "I've talked to my gallery and said if people are interested in my work, I'm more than willing to work with them. I'd rather have a sale for a good client than none at all."

Loveland believes the market as a whole might move in the same direction, to the point where established artists will be offering works at newcomer-artist prices.

To apply for a grant from the Oolite Arts Relief Fund for COVID-19, visit oolitearts.org/relieffund.

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