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Artists€ Group Presents Forum on How to Preserve One€s Art Legacy

Edith Billups | 3/4/2009, 1:12 a.m.

A forum held to educate artists on preserving their legacies emphasized estate planning as a valuable preservation tool. The forum was held at the Parish Gallery in Georgetown on Sat., Feb. 28.
€We need to put as much energy in preserving and planning what will happen to our collection and archives as we put into creating the art,€ Roy Lewis, a veteran photographer and photojournalist, told attendees at the first Annual Town Hall Artists Meetings (THAM.)
He went on to say that beneficiaries should have experts (ie: estate lawyer, appraiser and conservator) to assist them with assessing the value of a collection and archives.

Lewis€ comments were echoed by D.C. City Councilmember Michael A. Brown who called estate planning a valuable preservation tool and encouraged artists to become fully educated about €preserving their legacies, artistic riches and cultural norms."

Formed in partnership with LAGNIAPPE: Friends of Parish Gallery, THAM is a consortium of artists, art lovers, collectors and patrons of the art. One of the group€s goals is to help artists protect their collection after they die.

€For artists, estate planning is essential. Otherwise, their artistic legacy is certain to evaporate or to benefit someone they never knew,€ said attorney James Larry Frazier.

With the recent passing of many master artists, such as African American photographer Harlee Little, there has been a movement underway to better preserve and document the legacies of famous artists.
€Artists are trained to understand themselves as gifted, skilled, and inspired people, who can act as a vanguard in society. Yet, we are also visual scribes who document objects, emotions, thoughts, concepts, and experiences of our era. We are culture bearers, manufacturers of legacy, and an essential part of the memory of civilizations,€ said Claudia Aziza Gibson Hunter, co-founder of Black Artists of D.C, and a visual artist.

€Few artists understand our value to society and how to leverage that value into a livelihood. How do we inform and prepare ourselves for the 21st century? I think we must expand the artist€s understanding of artists and our role in the world.€

Eve Ferguson, a reference librarian at the Library of Congress and a journalist, warned attendees to be mindful of where they leave their personal correspondence.

"Even if it is outlined in their will, people need to check the collection policies of the places they would like to deposit their materials. To them, their correspondence is valuable, but to institutions like the Library of Congress, it has to fit in with their collection guidelines and goals,€ Ferguson said. €So why leave that task of not being able to fulfill someone's last wishes to the heirs or executors of the will? Know where you will leave your personal correspondence, art and other materials and make sure that the place you would like to donate your effects to, actually wants it, will accept it and make it available to the public. Otherwise, it can end up in file 13."

THAM co-founder Misty Brown said, €Many artists fail to realize the importance of updating their resumes, biographical sketches, and the big one, the dreaded €O.€ The majority of old-timers and masters went a step further and prepared their own obituaries. Therefore, the family can give it to the media and your facts will be accurate or close to your life story.€