Part III with Jennifer Perlow: Arts Supporters

Talking about some of the people and businesses in CoMo who support the arts.



Art has a funny way of transforming things: spaces, people, places. Perlow, as I’ve noted before, is a dedicated supporter of the arts in Columbia, constantly helping to organize their growth and development through a small network of local individuals. When speaking about those who support the arts, Perlow wishes to make a distinction that there are people who support the arts with their time or donations and “there are people who make a concerted effort to buy original, local works of art.” The latter, in her view, are imperative for the growth of the arts — not just because of financial support, but because, more importantly, by devoting effort to actively support the arts, people are moving the arts community forward.

And while those mentioned below are certainly doing their part to help, this is certainly not a comprehensive list of all of the individuals, businesses and organizations in and around Columbia who are also going above and beyond to support the arts. Instead, the following individuals and businesses are just a sample of those who make up the generous community of volunteers, motivators, financiers, artists, developers, advocators and community members that go out of their way to give back to the arts.

One such patron is Jack Miller, president of True Media Services. Perlow recounted that when Miller was in the process of opening True Media’s new offices he wanted to throw a grand-opening party and feature a local artist. Perlow connected Miller with David Spear, a prominent local, multi-media artist. Spear brought three large canvases and a projector to the opening party and traced portraits of each guest’s silhouette. Spear then took these canvases back to his studio, painted them and then installed them in True Media’s new office. They now function as abstract visual guest books and a way for clients and friends to connect with the space. Perlow says the canvases also offer a personal connection to Miller and his willingness and dedication to actively support the arts.

Another supporter Perlow praised is Boone Hospital, who Perlow says, “aim to put money back into the community and local economy by striving to use local and regional artists in their rotational exhibits.”

Perlow says Boone Hospital really sees the value in putting money back into the arts by buying original works of art. Perlow also commented that Bank of Missouri’s collection is entirely local. Another local institution, Boone County Nation Bank, also maintains a collection in addition to holding a public art show each year.

An interesting result of more and more local businesses and institutions building private art collections is that with each of these collections, according to Perlow, each of them have wide aesthetic value to their collections and different personalities.

And while giving money directly back to the artists has an immediate impact on the arts community, that’s not to diminish the time and energy individuals devote to artistic events and institutions in Columbia.

For example, Josh Oxenhander gives, Perlow says, “not just a check, but time, energy and effort as well by being on Ragtag’s board, working with the True/False festival and Roots N’ Blues N’ BBQ.”

Perlow also remarks that developer John Ott has personally invested in Columbia’s arts by devoting personal capital and a great deal of time and effort to the development of the North Village Arts District.

And according to Perlow, artist and owner of Artlandish Gallery, Lisa Bartlett has put her blood, sweat and tears into helping to cultivate the arts in Columbia.

“Intent for art is important to this community, but it is followed by action.”

Perlow has been lucky. She has a steady inflow of regular buyers and a great support system. When the recession hit, Perlow says a good friend came to her with a check and said, “I know I will find something I like in the gallery, but in the meantime you need this.” It’s generosity of action, like that gift to Perlow that keeps the arts in Columbia afloat.

If you own a business in town or head a local institution, consider the impact of buying local art. In the end, it’s not about how much you spend, but that you do, because in doing so you help the arts to continue to move forward.

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