Should Artists Donate Their Work?


Jerry Hardesty, Artist


What do you think… should artists donate their work? For the sake of this discussion, you are probably ahead of me and have presupposed that I am alluding to visual artists. Of course, I am.


Organizations that request gifts of art usually state that it will be great exposure and that it’s a tax write-off. I have donated my work to several charities, but have yet to receive a sell as a benefit of the exposure of my art. The only tax write-off that an artist can claim is the cost of materials. Therefore, the artist paints for nothing, which also takes away from the time he or she could be painting to make a sell.


Back to my original question, should artists donate their work?


  • Some artists feel it devalues their work
  • Others believe they need to give back


As an artist, if you strongly believe in the goals of a particular charity and you are so moved to donate for their fundraising, by all means do it.


Unfortunately, I have been burned. I have donated and asked an organization for a letter stating the date and the value of my gift, but have yet to receive it.


I donated a piece for a charity’s annual gala to raise money through an auction and/or a silent auction (I might add that I supported this charity). I labored over a piece especially for the organization and incorporated their theme into the piece. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell. Should the charity have returned it to me? No, I think not. They should have kept it for the following year’s gala. Regrettably, the piece disappeared. I have to assume that a member of that organization thought they deserved it more than any amount the organization might have received. Should I feel flattered that someone thought enough of my work to steal it?


Once again, should artists donate their work? I know I will have second thoughts, but notice I did not say “never.”



6 Artists I Most Admire

I chose only 6 Artists for this post

As an Artist, myself, there are other Artists I follow either on Facebook, Instagram, or their own websites.  It is my goal to paint and create my artwork as well as these Artists.  Furthermore, I would love to own a piece of work by each them.  Unfortunately, several command very large sums for their work, and deservedly so.  There is absolutely not reason an artist has to die before his work is valuable.  At the same time, I believe original art should be affordable for everyone.  My advice is collect only pieces you like and start small… a small postcard size painting… a work on paper… you get the idea.

My list of 6 includes:

  • Landscape painter Brian Rutenberg
  • Muralist and Abstract Painter Joe Parla
  • Creator Jimmi Toro
  • Abstract Artist Franck de las Mercedes
  • Abstract Expresssionist Kim Rodeffer Funk
  • Photographer Cat Palmer

Brian Rutenberg bills himself as a landscape painter who creates very large canvases in oil.   I do, however, find his work to have abstract qualities.  I fell in love with his work the moment I saw it.  I knew an article about Rutenberg was to be featured in Antiques and Art magazine… I could not find a copy at any bookstore in Salt Lake City and ordered one from the company for $22, much higher than the newsstand price.  Rutenberg uses a liberal amount of oil paint, sometimes up to three inches thick.  Imagine, the textures he creates with this much paint.  At some point, I became aware of his “Studio Visits” on Youtube – he has over fifty episodes and I’ve watched every one of them.  This last Fall, he released his book “Clear Seeing Place” which is a companion to the Youtube videos.  This book should be required reading for every artist.  According to Rutenberg, “a painting must address the physical presence of the viewer first.”  I admire most the fact that Rutenberg stays grounded.  He responds to posts and is a very down-to-earth person.

th-3.jpeg Brian Rutenberg Painting

Jose Parla painted a 90 foot mural for the lobby of The One World Trade Center in NYC, titled “ONE: Union of the Senses.”  The mural is a symbol of diversity.  I first became aware of Parla’s work when I viewed a video of him painting this mural.  It left me wanting to see more.  Parla layers paint intuitively and stated, “I’m really interested in the way our lives are built up out of memory and history, and how we reflect our surroundings.”

th-4.jpeg        Parla is standing on a ladder as he paint on the mural.

Jimmi Toro states “I am about creating.”  In addition to being an accomplished visual artist, he is also an accomplished musician playing several instruments and singing.  His paintings focus on the human face and anatomy in general.  Toro’s paintings are a cross between representational and abstract.  His portraits are intriguing.       

5ac17e_dec74a03480044ab8883fed94fd70014~mv2.jpg A sampling of Toro’s work

Franck de las Mercedes first appeared to me on Facebook.  He is perhaps well-known for his “Priority Boxes,” of which I own one (note for my kids… it may appear to be an empty box and it is but it’s full of peace and love, so don’t unwrap it or thrown it away, it’s a work of art).  de las Mercedes fell into this project quite by accident.  He had been taking boxes to the post office to ship to his collectors.  On the outside of box, he would clean off his brushes which created abstract pieces.  The post office asked about them and the project was born.  He has shipped these boxes all over the world.  I admire him for keeping this project going.  In addition to the box, I also own a print called “Icarus Falling” by the artist.

th-6.jpeg     th-7.jpeg                                       Franck with the “Priority Box” Project

Kim Rodeffer Funk interviewed me for Atelier 325, and has since followed my work.  I like her work as she is an abstract expressionist like myself.  Her favorite and most-used color is blue, like mine.  And her style is similar to my own.                        

th-5.jpeg      Kim’s Painting

Cat Palmer is a professional photographer in Utah.  I admire her for her bold expressions of being a liberal woman in such conservative surroundings.  An ongoing theme of her work is human empowerment… her expression of meaning through images gives her work a powerful voice, especially in women’s empowerment.  One of her latest works which I find  not only intriguing but also humorous is “The Last Supper with 14 Badasses of SLC.”

1443473961452.jpeg  Palmer, herself, behind the camera must be the 14th badass