Jackie Cantwell is a courageous young dynamo in the DC art world who has created Curating For A Cause, an organization that benefits non-profits through promoting DC artists. She spoke to us about her unique organization and her life.
Where are you from?
JC: I was born and bred in good ol’ Reston. My Dad is a painter and professor of computer art and animation at Montgomery County College. He also frequents my auctions as the Auctioneer and is known for hamming it up. I grew up in a house stacked high with artwork. One early memory I have is being perched on my Dad’s hip, with him asking me why each painting had a good composition. My Dad and I used to draw a cartoon called “Fuzzy Bunny” every night before I went to bed, about the adventures of an excitable male rabbit looking for love.
Later I majored in painting and printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
My Mom has done it all: she got her BFA in photography and worked for NASA.
Who are you favorite artists?
JC: I admire people who do what makes them happy, no matter the stakes. I would include films by Wes Anderson and David Lynch. I also love the graphic nature of Jenny Saville’s paintings. Pablo Picasso is an oldie but goodie.
What got you into connecting artists to auction their work for charity?
JB: Last year I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a local non-profit called Dreams for Kids. With no budget and very little experience, I planned their first arts fundraiser in the form of an art show and auction.
I wanted to create arts events that were accessible to everyone. I was sick of stuffy, expensive, quiet events where everyone whispered and went home early.
I created Curating For A Cause, an organization that not only benefits non-profits monetarily, but also provides a platform for people to access good art, promote artistic talent, and connect with various networks, thus creating marketing opportunities for all parties involved. Our events are accessible to a diverse group of audiences and truly benefit all participants. These are charity events where there are real people, and good music, and there just happens to be high quality art that you might fall in love with, all to benefit a great cause.
What is your connection with Pink Line Project’s Philippa P.B. Hughes?
JC: I was looking for advice and wanted to see if Dreams For Kids could work with the Pink Line Project in some way. After putting on a show of work at Paolo’s in Georgetown I was looking for my next venture. Philippa told me to keep doing what I was doing and that I would find my way. She asked me if I wanted to write for the Pink Line Project and now I do. I learned from Philippa that you must be true to your own voice.
Who have been your mentors?
JC: Adam Lister, from the Adam Lister Gallery in Fairfax, has been a great mentor on all accounts. I admire Adam and how he provides free art activities for children. Also Andrew Horn, the executive director of Dreams For Kids in DC, has been there for every second of the growth of my organization. His energy and outlook are truly inspiring.
What’s been the biggest surprise for you in Curating For A Cause?
JC: The biggest surprise is what a great artistic community DC really has. I have also been surprised by the willingness and genuine interest the artists have shown in working with me.
Do you enjoy teaching, and what does it bring you?
JC: I love teaching kids. Watching a kid realize that blue and yellow make green: that’s it for me!
Visit Curating for a Cause online for more information.