Oil Portrait Artist Robbi Firestone’s “Spirit of Santa Fe” Gallery Show Partners with the Food Depot, Uniting Food for the Soul with Nourishment for the Body
On August 9, Robbi Firestone’s “Spirit of Santa Fe” series of portraits will debut at Casweck Galleries. Firestone and the Gallery are donating a percentage of each sale to the Food Depot, whose portrait-based advertising campaign resonates with her own heart-centered project—a series of portraits of Santa Fe residents who exemplify “the spirit of Santa Fe.” Her actions are forging a powerful connection between Santa Fe’s arts community and its residents who suffer from food insecurity.
The “starving artist” trope doesn’t exactly come to mind in Santa Fe, the country’s third largest art market, as visitors wander Canyon Road, downtown galleries, or the Railyard’s loft-like exhibition spaces. And although the arts community’s philanthropy is robust—from ArtFeast, which brings together art, chefs, and hungry art appreciators to fund art in public schools, to the rich art pickings donated for fundraising silent auctions—gallery shows like Robbie Firestones are not as frequently explicitly linked to charitable causes. Santa Fe’s poverty rate is between 16-17%. That’s a lot of growling stomachs.
Portrait artist Robbi Firestone, who moved here this year from Seattle, found out about Food Depot through its humanizing ad campaign series, which shows faces of hungry individuals who are relatable, such as a young girl: “Straight A’s at 10. Motherless at 13. Hungry now.” “Front line at 21. Soup line at 24. Hungry now.”
Given the focus of Robbie Firestones upcoming portrait exhibition, The Spirit of Santa Fe, a series of portraits of people who exemplify the City Differenence enchantingly different spirit (from Judge Mike Vigil to Dr. Fiquet Duckworth), the oil portrait artist felt led to directly impact Santa Fe’s hungry individuals with her own creative expression of love for her new community. 3% of all portrait sales will go to the Food Depot, and throughout the exhibition’s run, Casweck Galleries will host a food drive for the organization.
“I have had my ‘starving artist’ periods. Not moments. It’s terrifying. There is no room in the mind for creation…all focus is on survival. I will never forget that circumstances can change in a moment. I’m grateful for all I have now. I’m grateful to help when I can. I’m grateful for phenomenal organizations like The Food Depot, here in Santa Fe.”
Food Depot development director Jill Gentry shares, “Hunger is closer than you think. For most of us—a relationship change, a repair, a job change—we are one or two things away from having food insecure situation ourselves. My friend had a good job, but a relationship change caused big expenses, and then she lost her job with no severance. Within a couple of months, her resources were tapped. It took her 4-5 months to bounce back.”
Gentry points out that “the average length of time nationally that people stay on food stamp assistance is only ten months, which indicates that short-term help does get people back on their feet in this society.”
How can artists and art appreciators help eliminate food insecurity in their community? Hunger Action Month is September—right around the corner. Galleries can ask all of their artists to contribute one piece for a show that benefits the Food Depot. Artists and others can volunteer services, either art-related or just simple, meditative labor.
As Gentry says, “It’s really rewarding to put philosophy into action.”
Check out the Food Depot’s ad campaign and learn more about volunteer opportunities at thefooddepot.org. Visit RobbiFirestone.com to see her body of work and learn more about her Spirit of Santa Fe exhibition, opening August 9 at Casweck Galleries, 203 W. Water Street, Santa Fe (casweckgalleries.com).
Casweck Gallery 203 W. Water St. in downtown Santa Fe features the works of renowned artist Ernest Chiriacka (1913-2010), known for his exquisite historical Western and Native American paintings, as well as his iconic work in the genres of Esquire pin-ups and pulp illustration. www.CasweckGalleries.com
Veteran filmmaker Craig Clark will also create a short, filmed documentary asking each muse, “What is the Spirit of Santa Fe; What does spirit mean to you?” to be displayed at the gallery during Firestone’s show; the month of August.
Robbi Firestone is a fine art oil portrait artist known for her sought-after oil portrait commissions, called Spirit Capture Portraits, which deftly reflect subjects’ inner selves, and hopes and dreams, as well as the faces they show the world. Subjects include Michael Beckwith of bestselling book and film, “The Secret,” Bart Millard of best-selling band MercyMe, and 3x Grammy Winner, Keb’Mo’. Learn more about Spirit Capture Oil Portrait Commissions and Robbi Firestone’s work at www.RobbiFirestone.com.