Bill Komodore. Linnea Glatt. Vincent Falsetta. Allison V. Smith. Frank Tolbert. Benito Huerta. Pamela Nelson. Brian Fridge. Ann Stautberg. Greg Metz. It's an impressive list of artists that any gallery would fight for. But Barry Whistler Gallery didn't have to fight. They just had to ask. And in some cases, they didn't even have to ask; people were calling them to volunteer donations.
Saturday's art show featuring these and at least five dozen other artists of the same caliber is called A Friend in Deed. Sure, the list is impressive--pulling some of the most respected and best-selling artists from Barry Whistler Gallery, Conduit Gallery, Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Angstrom Gallery, Gerald Peters Gallery, Plush Gallery, Pan American Art Gallery and the OH6 Art Collective--but that's not the point. It's just a means to an end.
A Friend in Deed is a benefit for Barry Whistler Gallery artist Scott Barber, who has been treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma for two years and will undergo a bone marrow transplant later this month. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the one-night show will go to Barber, who, though he has insurance through his teaching position at St. Mark's, will still have to pay tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket and spend about eight weeks, from preparation to recovery, in the hospital and off work. More than 60 artists--at last count--have donated pieces of art. But the donations don't end there. Collectors are donating works from their private stashes. The show's catering will be donated by The Food Company. Dallas instrumental band Shibboleth will perform for free. And even the promotional postcards the gallery and artists are distributing were printed for free.
The night was organized by Barry Whistler and artists John Pomara and Ted Kincaid, who, with Barber, were part of a three-man show at Whistler's gallery in October and November. They knew then about the upcoming transplant, but Barber wanted that exhibit to be focused on his artwork, not--as Whistler says Barber put it--about feeling sorry about some guy with cancer. But the three wanted to do something for Barber and, after brainstorming, they came up with Saturday's benefit. They started by asking friends if they were interested. Then people started asking them if they could accept more donations. The show, which won't be hung until Thursday, continues to grow, with people hurrying to create new works in time to be included.
But it's not just a great night for Barber, whose magnetic personality, Whistler says, has made so many friends willing to contribute their time and work. It's a great night for Dallas art patrons. Some of the works--which will be sold at 10 percent off their retail value, which ranges from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand dollars--are new and unseen, a first (and discounted) chance for collectors to snag a between-exhibit piece. Whistler says people have already called to ask for a sneak peek of the works, but he's standing firm that Saturday will be first come, first served. No purchases can be made before the doors open for the party. Which makes Whistler curious to see if people will actually start lining up outside early. Dallas art fans waiting in the dark to get in the gallery like teenage girls lined up for TV stars or boy bands? That'll be a surprise. But what isn't shocking, Whistler says, is how artists and the galleries that represent them have come together in Barber's time of need. "It's made me see a more fully realized art community and how it can spread a call to arms when it needs to."