Underwater: Original Emerging Artists' Photo Prints for Sandy Relief

V&M Photography is a project that lets you learn about emerging artists while aiding a good cause.

I just moved to Los Angeles a few months ago. Well, actually, I've been living here for two years—unofficially, that is. After ten years in New York, somehow, I just couldn't bring myself to commit to LA—despite its hardships, especially for struggling artists and writers like myself, New York proved tougher to quit than smoking, but I finally kicked on both counts. Preferring to think of it as a trial separation, in 2009, I initially moved to Buenos Aires.

Able to write full-time for the first time in my life while watching various forces at work—the recession and digital explosion and implosion of traditional publishing—I decided to try something completely different with my third book. So I launched Saccades Project as the digital umbrella for a trilogy of young adult novels about a teenage artist. The project gave me the chance to reach out and work with countless young people, all these brilliant young artists I was discovering online: fourteen and fifteen-year-olds who were easily as talented and far more technically proficient as any of the artists in the Masters program when I was in art school. Of course I didn't know if anything would come of it, but the process allowed me to collaborate with and e-meet thousands of artists from all over the world. Having developed a life of its own, I'm pleased to say that Saccades Project is alive and well, and this June, Amazon Publishing will publish the first book of the Saccades trilogy, Ghost Time.

In the meantime, I moved back to the U.S. in 2010, and, frankly, not knowing where the hell else to go, I decided to give Los Angeles a try. So, after three years of living out of a suitcase, last September, I bit the bullet, booked a flight to New York, and hired a freight company to meet me at my storage unit on November 13. All I had, really, was a five-by-five-foot space, packed floor to ceiling. Two weeks before my trip, Hurricane Sandy struck, and having been glued to the news for days, it wasn't until October 30, two days after the storm hit, that it occurred to me that my storage facility was in Alphabet City, 10th and Avenue D. And that my unit was in the basement, surely flooded, if not entirely submerged.

I lost almost everything I own: family photos, childhood letters, first editions, and rare photographs I skipped lunch for months to afford to buy, like a series of Wingate Paine prints I discovered in a junk shop on Crosby Street in 2002. So in the end, turns out I didn't have to move anything from New York after all. Also, on the bright side, I'd just spent several weeks working on an interview about R. Adam Smith, the CEO/Chairman of V&M, Vintage and Modern, "the leading online curated marketplace of unique design goods."

I'd been planning on visiting their office while I was in New York to discuss possible projects, collaborations with the artists I've come to know over the past four years. Then, less than a week after Sandy, only three days after the storm hit, what I found most unique about V&M was their response—locked out of their own office and much of their team without electricity in their own homes, Vintage and Modern launched a four-day benefit, donating 100 percent of all sales to the Red Cross. I knew the company's investment in worthy causes, it's a large part of their MO, but after seeing that level of commitment, I decided to take V&M's tagline "Curate Your Life" to heart and I approached Adam Smith with an idea. He didn't hesitate.

Yesterday, V&M launched its sister site, V&M Photography, home to its Emerging Artist program, which I'll be curating and which will feature up-and-coming global photographers throughout the year. And as part of the launch, V&M and its participating artists will donate up to 30 percent of all net proceeds, in the program's first 31 days, to the New York Foundation of the Arts (NYFA), which supports fellow artists affected by Hurricane Sandy.

In addition to providing crucial information about aid and conservation through its disaster resource center, the NYFA Emergency Relief Fund, supported by the Warhol Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg and Lambent Foundation, has provided emergency grants to artists in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut who lost their equipment, studios, homes and entire lifetimes of artwork last November. NYFA's always done tremendous work on behalf of the arts and artists, but especially over the course of the past three months.

The international artists participating in V&M Photography's Sandy Relief efforts hail from the U.S., England, Canada, Germany, France, Serbia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Russia and China. Artists include: 17-year-old German photographer Connie Gegenfurtner; published Serbian poet Tamara Suskic; music producer/member of electronica band Ladytron, Reuben Wu; Karl Lagerfeld model-turned photographer, Canadian Joel Bedford; a color-blind English painter and award-winning photographer who has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Landscape Photographer of the Year Award the past four years in a row, Chris Friel, and many more.

Keeping prices affordable and limiting the editions to 45 per work, prints will initially be available in small (8 x 10 in.) at $75 unframed/$149 framed, edition of 10; medium (11 x 14 in.) at $149 unframed/$249 framed, edition of 20; large (16 x 20 in.) at $359 unframed/$489 framed, edition of 10; and extra-large (32 x 40 in.) at $750 unframed/$1,400 framed, edition of 5. A selection of the prints are featured below. Each comes with a V&M certificate of authenticity singed and numbered by the artist.

The benefit is about artists helping artists. It's a way for me to help the community I most want to support. And, I suppose, it helps me in a way, too—turns out I could use some new artwork myself.

Images courtesy of V&M Photography

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