Funder FAQ: The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Society Foundation

What is the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation?
The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation was established according to the will of Adolph Gottlieb. Gottlieb was one among several artists known as the Abstract Expressionists. One of the foundation’s functions is to give grants to mature painters, printmakers, and sculptors. The foundation also continues to exhibit and sell the work of the estate of Adolph Gottlieb.

How, when, and why did the Gottlieb Foundation come into being?
It was set up after Gottlieb’s death in 1974. During his lifetime, Gottlieb was very generous to other artists and often provided loans to artists during times of crisis and need. He became acutely aware of artists’ needs, especially during times of emergency. To continue Gottlieb’s legacy of giving to fellow artists, two programs were set up to assist artists with financial need, the Individual Support and Emergency Assistance programs.

You fund mostly painters, printmakers, and sculptors. Do film and video artists qualify for your programs?
Since Adolph Gottlieb was primarily a painter, sculptor, and printmaker, the programs were set up to assist artists who work in these media. However, the definitions of painting and sculpture have been expanding and changing. Since these categories are shifting, artists who incorporate other media, including video and film into their work, may be eligible for the grant programs. Mature film and video artists whose work can be directly interpreted as painting or sculpture may be eligible to apply for the programs.

Can you elaborate on the type of work that would fall within your guidelines?
While we don’t provide funds to artists who work strictly in video or film only, artists who incorporate other media might be considered. For example, an artist who works in an experimental area of film or video and incorporates it within a sculpture or installation may be eligible. Or an artist who works in a combination of performance art, film or video, and installation may also qualify. It would also be important that the work can be represented well in slides or photographs, since these are the only forms of documentation that are reviewed.

The Gottlieb Foundation specifically funds artists, not projects. What are the two grants for which artists can apply and what are their limitations?

The two grant programs have different criteria and application processes. There are no geographic restrictions, as the programs are available to international artists.

The Individual Support grant is an annual program with a deadline of December 15. The foundation gives 10 grants of $20,000 to artists who fit the media criteria that have been previously mentioned and have been working in a mature phase of their art for at least 20 years. We require a written request for an application. Requirements include up to 40 slides documenting 20 years, a completed application form, a three-page narrative statement, and a copy of the previous year’s tax return, since there is a financial need eligibility component.

The Emergency Assistance grant gives financial assistance of up to $10,000 to artists who have been in a mature phase of their art for at least 10 years and have suffered a recent and catastrophic emergency, including a fire, flood, or medical emergency. Applications are accepted on an on-going basis, with $4,500 as the average amount awarded per artist.

Do the grants have designated use (i.e. production of projects, general living expenses, etc.)
Grants are awarded for general support and living expenses, rather than for projects or capital expenses. In the case of the Emergency Assistance program, the funds may be earmarked for a specific purpose—for example, the payment of medical bills, or rent and monthly living expenses.

Are there time frame restrictions within which the funds must be used? Can the same individual apply for funds two years in a row?
Funds are generally meant to be used within a year. Unsuccessful applicants for the Individual Support program can reapply yearly. Recipients of this program must wait one year before reapplying. Emergency Assistance applications are reviewed and awarded on a one-time basis only. Artists are eligible to reapply for this program if they are facing a new and separate emergency situation, which is not related to a previously filed or awarded Emergency Assistance application.

Who makes award decisions? Can you name past panelists?
Review panels for the programs are made up of artists and other art professionals. The names of panelists are never announced and are kept strictly confidential.

Who are the Program Officers?
Sanford Hirsch is the Executive Director, Nancy Litwin is the Art Collection Manager, and I [Sheila Ross] am the Grants Manager.

What’s the ratio of applicants to recipients? How many of those are media artists?
The foundation does not have a policy of allocating funds based on media. There isn’t a policy of allotting a percentage of funds to “x” number of painters, or to “y” number of sculptor/video/installation artists. Applications which meet the guidelines are reviewed by a panel of advisors, made up of artists and other art professionals. Applications are evaluated on their own merit. Obviously, because the program was conceived to provide funds to mature painters, sculptors, and printmakers, the majority of funds do go to artists working in those areas. However, artists who incorporate video or film in their work have been recipients of both grants.

The foundation does keep track of other statistics. In the most recent grant cycle, 445 applications were received for the Individual Support grant program. 10 grants were awarded. Each year, we receive well over 100 Emergency Assistance applications. Approximately 75 percent of the Emergency Assistance applications eligible for review are awarded grants.

Name some of your better known artists you have funded.
Martin Ball, Judith Bernstein, Joel Fisher, Rachel Giladi, Robert Goldman, Bob Griffin, Laurie Lea, Eric Saxon, Judith Simonian, Roy F. Staab.

What are the common mistakes applicants make?
There are several common mistakes. Number one is submitting an incomplete application, which could be a product of applicants not carefully reading the application materials. Examples include omitting required materials, such as a copy of a tax return, not providing adequate slide documentation of work, leaving blanks anywhere on the application forms. We most commonly see this in the financial disclosure section of the application form. Another common mistake is submitting poor quality slides or other poor quality visual documentation of work.

What advice do you have for media artists in putting forth a strong application?
Have another person review your application before it is submitted to the foundation.

Other foundations or grantmaking organizations you admire.
The Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

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