David Kassan hasn’t forgotten what it was like to struggle as a young artist, with no gallery representation, no teaching gigs, a small collector base, and a heap of talent and determination. The New York artist now travels the world teaching and interfacing with well-heeled art patrons, but the feeling of isolation and career gridlock is fresh in his memory. So he’s giving back….

A wave of red dots washes over his solo shows, most appearing before opening night, and Kassan has plugged in to a wider audience than many representational painters through his pursuit of digital art. His embrace of YouTube and other video technology makes it possible for him to reach hundreds of thousands of students. He’s only in his mid-30s, but he’s ready to extend a hand to developing artists through his Kassan Foundation.

“I always said that as soon as I got stability I was going to start giving back as soon as I could,” explains the artist. “I’ve been lucky and fortunate and I want to pass that on.”

The immediate award that the Kassan Foundation gives is a monetary prize of $3,000, but a few minutes speaking with Kassan reveals that the opportunity involves much more. “$3,000 is a decent chunk of change — you can travel, you can create, and not necessarily for a collector market,” he says. “It’s about growth as a person; that’s what this whole thing is for. I remember that my trip to Italy was a huge benefit for me. This would allow a young artist to go to a place like Italy, maybe paint where Corot painted, and create an entirely new body of work.” Kassan says he’d help the recipient find a gallery to show his or her work, and the artist talks of mentoring the emerging artists, introducing them around.

He also has plans to cross-pollinate artistic disciplines; an award for a musician is offered as well. The ideal candidate would be a songwriter, and the opportunities for exposure would be crucial to someone trying to make it in the music world. Kassan envisions highly polished and professional concert videos for YouTube. He sees music in art galleries. He sees people having the time to create.

The Kassan Foundation, somewhat surprisingly, has had better luck attracting big donors than applicants for the grants. That will change when developing artists hear about this opportunity to get financial aid and practical advice from this energetic painter.

(Due to the age of this post, some images may be missing from this article)


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