Artist John Ross Palmer has been in my peripheral vision for many years. Why? Because he is a successful artist, he follows no rules but his own, and has made branding his name an art form.
When you reach the pinnacle of success what do you do? Give back, of course.
Palmer would most likely disagree with that statement about success, there is no way he and business partner and husband Ryan Lindsay are done achieving. Palmer did start giving back in the way of mentoring other artists almost 10 years ago. First, it was just friends at informal gatherings, that eventually led to a program which is now overseen by a nonprofit called Art Launch.
The Escapist Mentorship Program, founded in 2009, pairs emerging artists with an established artist who coaches on all aspects of the business of art. Art Launch is the formal entity that operates the Escapist Mentorship Program, even drawing international interest.
Sunday afternoon I attended the Escapist Initiation Ceremony. I was skeptical – I’m not one for formality – but my friend Elena Sandovici was accepted into the program and invited me to attend; that was plenty reason to go, she is even less enthusiastic with formalities than I!
Ryan Lindsay emceed, introduced us to the program, its history and then to keynote speaker Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. Ogg pointed out how our society needs art as a reminder of the freedoms we fight for. Palmer said that former Escapist artists suggested the initiation ceremony to show the seriousness of the commitment to the program. When Palmer stepped up to lead the new Escapists with their pledge, I realized just how right the former Escapist artists were to suggest this ceremony. Making a commitment publicly, in front of family, friends, and colleagues, solidifies the seriousness of your future actions. I was beginning to like these formalities.
Since 2014, the Escapist Artists each receive use of a personal state-of-the-art studio and gallery space in the heart of the Historic Houston Heights known as the Chrysalis. The Escapist Mentorship Program has always been entirely free for the accepted Escapist Artists.
According to their website, Art Launch doesn’t just “teach” artists business skills in a bubble. The Escapist Artists are provided the authentic artist environment to host events and meet with art collectors through gallery welcome, art discussion, potential sale and follow-up. Art Launch also doesn’t just give education to the Escapist Artists. Real, significant dollars are put into their pockets through the sale of their artwork in the Chrysalis.
After a year in the program, the Escapist Artists have the skills and training to thrive on their own without the reliance on the traditional art gallery system.
Congratulations 2018 Escapist Artists Elena Sandovici, Ashley Hawkins, Paula Hawkins and Nabarupa Bhattacharje. By the way, Bhattacharje is the second-ever international Escapist, Bhattacharjee lives in New Delhi, India.
Stay tuned here, I plan to follow along with the Escapist Artists throughout their year in the program. This is truly a very inspiring program. Find out more through their website, which has links to Facebook and Instagram. www.artlaunch.org