Online Art Auction Aims to Keep Museum of the African Diaspora Afloat

Raelis Vasquez, Hijo del Sastre (Son of the Tailor), 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 14 x 18 in. (Courtesy of the artist.)

An auction benefiting Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), one of the many Bay Area cultural organizations experiencing dramatic revenue shortfalls during mandatory closure, opens April 21 via the online marketplace Artsy and features works donated by a growing number of noted artists.

MoAD: Diaspora Unite!” offers pieces by artists including Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Amoako Boafo, Cassi Namoda, Lava Thomas, Rashaad Newsome, Dewey Crumpler, Adia Millett and American Artist, some of them created specifically to support the San Francisco museum.

“In these times of extreme challenge and uncertainty, we must work together as a community to collaboratively sustain our cultural institutions,” Monetta White, MoAD’s director, said in a statement. “We call on artists, donors, businesses, collectors and individuals to support this institution as a foundational platform for artists of African descent in the Bay Area and throughout the world.”

Museum of the African Diaspora, a Smithsonian affiliate, opened in 2005 and remains one of few museums in the United States focused exclusively on worldwide African diaspora culture.

The auction draws on many donations from artists, galleries and collectors from outside of the Bay Area. Participating galleries include Mariane Ibrahim (Chicago), James Fuentes (New York) and Goodman (South Africa) alongside locals Traywick Contemporary and Jenkins Johnson. Newsome, acclaimed for his video work, is among the participating artists previously exhibited at MoAD.

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The museum continues to accept donated works until April 21. The auction closes May 5.

MoAD, closed to comply with shelter-in-place orders to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, last month laid off seven staff members and reduced the hours of its remaining 11 employees, as KQED previously reported. White announced the “incredibly difficult and painful decision to reduce staff” on May 31, citing the closure’s impact on MoAD’s “already limited operating funds.”

Local cultural organizations including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Exploratorium and Oakland Museum of California have also made workforce reductions. (Oakland Museum of California has temporarily reversed hours reductions for full-time employees after receiving a federal payroll protection loan.) A survey of 145 arts groups, including MoAD, projects $73 million in losses in the coming months. MoAD reported $2 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending in 2018, tax records show.

Below is a selection of artwork available at the auction.

Amoako Boafo, 'Untitled,' 2020, Oil on canvas, 70cm x 50cm
Amoako Boafo, 'Untitled,' 2020, Oil on canvas, 70cm x 50cm (Courtesy-of-the-artist-and-Mariane-Ibrahim-Gallery)
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, 'Wiyaala,' 2020, Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in.
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, 'Wiyaala,' 2020, Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in. (Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, CA)
February James, 'In the spaciousness of uncertainty there is room to act,' 2020, Watercolor and ink on paper, 22 x 30 in.
February James, 'In the spaciousness of uncertainty there is room to act,' 2020, Watercolor and ink on paper, 22 x 30 in. (Courtesy of the artist)
American Artist, 'Delvin's Dignity Image,' 2019, Archival photograph on aluminum, 18 x 12 in.
American Artist, 'Delvin's Dignity Image,' 2019,
Archival photograph on aluminum, 18 x 12 in. (Courtesy of the artist and Keonig & Clinton, Brooklyn, NY.)
Cassi Namoda, 'Nouricce of Negus, from Abysinnia, posing by the moonlight,' 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8 in.
Cassi Namoda, 'Nouricce of Negus, from Abysinnia, posing by the moonlight,' 2020, Acrylic on
canvas, 10 x 8 in. (Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg, Cape Town & London).)