The Crucifiction of Crazy Christine

Prescos 1975 Greg, Christine, Shannon, Vicki & Rosemary




scan0032“The 50 Most Powerful Women in the New York Art World”

“Many may have started out as the women who work the front desk, but now they are the ones who decide whether or not you get to buy that painting, or have that museum show.”

The evening my sister Christine Rosamond Benton drowned, Vicki called me up and asked me to come to Carmel to help sell our sister’s art. I told my friend Michael this may be a ruse, and we agreed this offer would soon be rescinded. Twenty minutes later Vicki called back and un-invited me to come to Carmel because she and Christine’s friends are having a fund-raising to pay for funeral costs. I asked why I could not be there. My surviving sister said;

“You won’t get along with these people. You know how you are!”

Vicki dropped out as executor and nominated Garth Benton the father of Drew who was nine. When the adult heir, Shannon Rosamond, fought Garth in court because he had come to hate Christine during the divorce that was just finalized, Lawrence Chazen made a bid to be executor. Chazen is a Getty Man and CEO of Nobel Oil – and No.1 creditor in the probate. He was dismissed. Garth got Shannon put in handcuffs and taken to jail.

When none of these people could get along, Judge Silver was forced to appoint a Special Executor. Sydney Morris sold the gallery and rights to Stacey Pierrot, who sat at the front desk in the Rosamond Gallery. She was ‘The Front’ while members of my family hid behind these scenes – and fought the surviving family artists. None of these Darklings can draw or paint. They are Lurkers of the Art World. It is time to unmask them.

As an artist, I knew the gallery in Carmel was the Jewel in the Crown that could serve the creative members of my family for generations to come. Vicki and Mark Presco hated art, were sick of the gallery, and just wanted their money back, the money they lent Christine when her popularity began to fade.

Here is an interview Pierrot conducted from the Rosamond Gallery. She sits on several boards and travels to Europe. Meanwhile, Shannon Rosamond, can’t convince people she is Rosamond’s daughter.

Above is a photo of Shannon when she was six sitting at my mother’s table while I pass around photos of my painting I did of Rena Victoria Easton. Upon seeing this lost work of art, Christine decided to take up art. This is the Genesis of her success that would lead to her public crucifixion that Garth administered while lurking in the background. He did not attend my sister’s funeral, nor did Drew Benton.

Stacey Pierrot is the woman on the right sitting before the large Rosamond canvas, with Jacci Belford, the gallery manager who called me three weeks after her boss was dead and said my niece would destroy the estate. Belford had made a bid to buy our families legacy. When I objected, I was black-balled. Vicki was a Puppet Master who backed Pierrot. I was put in the dark. Two months after Chriestine was gone, I called up Paul Mortuary to find out if these “friends” and my family paid for the funeral of the famous Rose of the World.

“No they haven’t. And I am about to file a claim against the estate!”

John Presco

Copyright 2013

On the phone in her gallery as a fountain flows in a small courtyard outside. At one point her landlord stops by. He”s fond of her. Calls her a sweetheart. Stacey had just finished running four miles. She”s lived in Carmel for 10 years.

Do you have confidence in President Bush?

Absolutely. With a capital A. I feel very secure with his whole cabinet. I think they”re very knowledgeable and smart. I”ve actually met Condoleezza Rice and she”s outstanding. I think they”re making the right decisions for our country.

Last night I liked the way he [Bush] explained the progression of Saddam Hussein”s behavior and why we are where we are right now. I feel like I”m at the end of my rope too. No more playing games. Also the AIDS help for Africa was good.

Do any government policies or laws affect you directly?

Just high taxes. I”m in the highest tax bracket. I”m a small business owner, self-employed, so I”m interested in making it. It”s all part of business and cash flow and taxes are a big part of making it or not.

Will war affect the economy?

I”m not worried about the war affecting business. I support it because we have to do it. But maybe because I feel like Carmel is so beautiful people will come here to escape the feelings of war. I sit on a board of the Carmel Art Festival, the Carmel Gallery Alliance. We put on an annual festival. There have been some board conversations about the success of this year”s festival because of the war. I”ve heard they”re concerned the festival will be way down. I happen to believe the opposite. It”s a cultural event and in a time of war people have to look for other things to take them away from being scared.

Do you trust corporate America?

I think there needs to be more checks and balances. I am appalled that these things have happened. There needs to be much more accountability, especially when you”re investing with someone.

Have you been hurt by any of the scandals?

The falling of Silicon Valley has hurt the art business. They were some of our weekenders.

What else is happening in Carmel?

We have the battles with the Coastal Commission. We have the Sunset Center, raising money for that. What I”m waiting for is some cohesiveness between the landlords and the business owners here. The rents are so high, there”s lots of turnover.

I”m not into the paid parking. There”s lots of those ”No Paid Parking” signs in people”s windows, so I can”t imagine everyone is too into that. And what about employees? If you work here you don”t want to have to spend money on parking.

California. Good or Bad?

The best thing about California is the beauty. That”s the number one thing that keeps me here. I like the small town feel because I”m single. I think I”d be lonely in a big city. The worst thing for me is no theater. No music. No nightlife. I hate to offend anyone but everything is on such a small scale. A play is a like a high school play.

What are you afraid of these days?

The whole germ warfare thing scares the crap out of me. As far as the economy and business, what am I afraid of, pulling out and making it. I”ve seen a lot of businesses go out in Carmel, like crazy, everywhere you look.

Travel lately?

I went to Italy. Rome, Venice and Milan. It was in the first week of January. It was wonderful. Quiet. That”s what was so nice. No tourists. People aren”t flying. It was eating, shopping, walking. I went with my best friend. My best girlfriend. I try to get out of the country once a year.

Here at Gallerist NY we initially resisted the idea of creating a Power List (anyone who reads The Observer will know that they are treasured here), until we realized we could use one to make a point.

There has been a lot of press about women in the art world recently, but for some reason this talk has been for the most part limited to women who work in galleries. Vogue profiled Gagosian’s female employees (the “Gagosiennes), New York magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut, recently looked at the sartorial choices of gallery assistants and a piece in the The New Yorker questioned their very existence.
And of course there is the upcoming Bravo reality series Paint The Town, which, according to advance promotion, will follow the trials, tribulations and, presumably, the night life of a bunch of young gallery assistants.

What gets left out in the current discussion is the fact that women hold positions of real power in the art world. Many may have started out as the women who work the front desk, but now they are the ones who decide whether or not you get to buy that painting, or have that museum show. They raise money for museums, source pictures and write reviews. Attesting to the power of women in the art world, this was an excruciatingly difficult list to narrow down. Also, we would like to emphasize that the order is random: the list is not ranked.

In The Observer‘s pages, we recently profiled Paula Cooper, one of New York’s legendary dealers. In the slideshow that follows, we give you the 50 most powerful women in New York’s modern and contemporary art world.

The buyer who paid £6.9 million for a Berthe Morisot painting after a lengthy bidding war at Christie’s last night clearly hadn’t listened to Georg Baselitz. Baselitz, one of Europe’s most successful living artists, has dismissed women artists, citing the market value of their work.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, Baselitz said, “women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact.” He backed up his claim by saying that work by women artists “simply don’t pass the market test, the value test. As always, the market is right.”
Berthe Morisot’s 1881 painting, Après le déjeuner, tripled its expected estimate of £1.5-2.5 million in the Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale, which raised a total of £136.4 million. The sale broke the record for the price of a female work at auction, which was previously held by Yayoi Kusama for her 1959 abstract work No. 2 sold for £3.8 million in 2008.

CNN) — From Warhol’s silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe to Picasso’s nudes, it has generally been easier for women to be the subject of paintings than to have their own work exhibited.
In 1989, when New York feminist collective Guerrilla Girls began counting how many works in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art were by women, less than 5% of the artists in its Modern section were female.
But the art world looks set to change its stubbly face, and shows increasing signs of recognition for the value and stature of leading female artists.
Half of the nominees for Britain’s Turner Prize are women this year, as are three of the four photographers shortlisted for Canada’s $50,000 Grange Prize, and at this month’s Frieze Art Fair, two of the five artists commissioned to make site-specific works were women.
Online sales bring the decision making to the public … away from the hands of the male-dominated, traditional art world
Cynthia Rowley, Exhibition A co-founder
The chief curators of MoMA, the Whitney, the Met, the Guggenheim and the Centre Pompidou are all female, as are the directors of Tate Britain and the Uffizi Gallery. The world’s biggest buyer of contemporary art, according to Art Newspaper is the Qatari royal family, whose purchases are directed by Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani.
“It is better than it has ever been for women at the emerging level,” says one of the founders of Guerrilla Girls, Frida Kahlo. But, she warns, “when one travels up the art world ladder of success, there is a crushing glass ceiling. Women only get so far, especially at the level of economics.”
Historically, art made by women has struggled to fetch high prices at auction. So much so, that earlier this year, renowned art dealer Iwan Wirth told The Economist that “women artists are the bargains of our time.”
In Christie’s New York’s September 2002 auction of Post-War and Contemporary art, female artists comprised 15% of the lots auctioned, and only 10% of the total sales. Almost decade later at the same auction, in September 2011, works by women accounted for 22% of the lots auctioned, and 36% of the $8.4 million taken.
Instead of being clumped around the bottom of the results table, four of the top 10 most expensive works were by women, including Japanese installation artist Yayoi Kusama, sculptors Louise Bourgeois and Lynda Benglis, and expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler. are there so few? (Creative women: Visual artists, mathematicians, scientists, musicians).

Piirto, J.

This article by Jane Piirto is about the many studies that have been done in relation to gender and the arts, sciences, and mathematics. Each of these subtopics of creativity are explored along with studies that have been done on gender in each field. Issues that women often face, such as the feeling that one must choose between a successful career and a family, are discussed at length.

“It is time now to explore the creative potential of interrupted and conflicted lives, where energies are not narrowly focused or permanently pointed toward a single ambition.”
Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing A Life.

It is the beginning of a new century. The last wave of the twentieth century women’s movements began in the 1960’s. Women’s studies programs and feminist manifestos proliferate throughout the world. Why have we not begun to see a more equal ratio of successful and eminent women to men in creative fields? Where are the publicly and professionally successful women visual artists, musicians, mathematicians, scientists, composers, film directors, playwrights, and architects? Each field has several–perhaps token–female representatives.

However, the creative world seems still to be largely a man’s world. In the 1950s, in the proposal to the Carnegie Institution by the Institute for Personality Assessment and Research (IPAR) funded at the University of California at Berkeley in 1956, the proposers stated that the study was necessary because the number of creative men surpassed the number of creative women. The researchers wanted to study whether this difference was caused by social, cultural and economic discrimination, or whether the gender inequity could be attributed to psychological and biological differences. Fifty years ago, some commonly held beliefs were that women were unable to think abstractly, or women were not ambitious, and this might account for their lack of eminence and follow through in creative fields. Not much has changed, perhaps, for even today, it seems that the main creative fields where women are equally as well known as men are creative writing and acting, and even in acting, older female actors complain that there are few roles for them.

In my review of creativity theory, I came upon very few women who made any contribution to theories of creativity: among these were the psychologist Anne Roe, the psychoanalyst Alice Miller, and the philosophers Susanne Langer and Susan Sontag. Perhaps one reason there are so few women who have achieved great fame is because critics are not writing about them. Perhaps women just are not capable of being great artists. Nochlin was frank when she answered the question, in her essay of the same title, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? by saying,

There have been no supremely great women artists, as far as we know, although there have been many interesting and very good ones who remain insufficiently investigated or appreciated; nor have there been any great Lithuanian jazz pianists, not’ Eskimo tennis players, no matter how much we might wish there had been. …There are no women equivalents for Michelangelo or Rembrandt, Delacroix or Cezanne, Picasso or Matisse, or even, in very recent times, de Kooning or Warhol, any more than there are black American equivalents for the same.
Simonton said that only 3 percent of “the most illustrious figures of history” have been women. And many of these females entered the records in part by birthright or marriage.” In science, fewer than 1 percent of those who gained eminence were women. He said, “Names like Hypatia, Caroline Herschel, Marie Curie, and Barbara McClintock are but drops in a sea of male scientists.” Music also suffers from a lack of women. “For every Hildegard von Bingen, Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Amy Beech, Nadia Boulanger, Ruth Crawford Seeger, and Thea Musgrave, there are dozens of male composers more famous.” Simonton asserted that the domain of creative writing was the only one “in which women could really shine,” but even there, only 1% of the most eminent were women. Simonton does historiography, comparing eminent people throughout history. Are things any better today? Perhaps just a little.

The problem for girls seems to rise after adolescence, where for boys it arises during adolescence. Gilligan pointed out the change that happens in girls at puberty. Another change might happen after college. It is somehow more acceptable for girls to be highly able creatively in high school. Girls’ problems may come when they try to reconcile the stereotypical paradox of the nurturing, recessive, motherly female with that of the unconventional artist.

Why Are There So Few Great Female Visual Artists?

What Loeb called the If I haven’t dusted the furniture and made the beds do I have the right to begin carving? syndrome afflicts women. The profession of artist demands an extraordinary commitment in terms of willingness to take rejection, to live in poverty, and to be field independent. Those are traits of committed males, but not of committed females, who usually choose careers as art educators, but not as artists.

Barron studied young artists at the San Francisco Art Institute and at the Rhode Island School of Design. Using the California Psychological Inventory, profiles of both male and female art students reported that they were not interested in making a good impression on other people and were not as well socialized as others. They also reported a high need to achieve success independently, were more flexible in outlook, and were less cheerful than others.

On the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory in the same study, male and female art students scored in the pathological ranges on all the scales. This may be an indication of their low need for conformity. They differed from psychotic people though, in that they were far less rigid, and they did not show other symptoms of overt psychosis such as magical ego integrity or loss of reality contact. Barron described the male artists as gentleman pirate types, who show an independence of thought and unconventionality which makes their experiences unusual.

The females were also unconventional, flexible, open, and showed independence, approaching life vigorously. They were sensitive to details. The females’ patterns were different from the male artists in that they had less flamboyance, seemed more naive, and were more introverted. However, these female artists, compared with other females, appeared to be adventurous, independent, and very willful.

Barron interviewed the art students and found what the tests did not indicate: the degree of intensity with which the students pursued their chosen careers. In asking the students the question. Do you think of yourself as an artist? 67% of the women said no and 60% of the men said yes. When asked the question, In comparison to the work of others at the Institute, is your work particularly unique or good? 40% of the men and 17% of the women answered yes. And when asked In comparison to the work of others at the Institute, is your work inferior? the percentages were reversed: 40% of the women felt their work was inferior and 14% of the men agreed.

Barron pointed out that this revealed a difference in self-image in the women, and that these differences were not indications of the real quality of the men’s and women’s art work, indicating that “the quality of the women’s art work was equally high.” The main difference came in the intensity of the commitment of the young artists to their work. Almost all of the men said their art work was their life, was necessary for life, and was their main reason for living: “Without painting I couldn’t function.” Only one woman indicated that her work was essential, and the others made comments such as this: “It’s half my life, the other half is my future family.” The necessity for passion and commitment for one’s work is essential. The young women artists did not seem to demonstrate this pricking by the “thorn” of passion, as mentioned in the discussion of the Piirto Pyramid of Talent Development.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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