CORAL (Centro Oaxaqueño de Rehabilitación de Audición y Lenguaje) is a non-profit organization providing assistance to the deaf and hearing impaired and their families in Oaxaca, one of the poorest states in Mexico. While most of its funding comes from private donations and local charitable foundations, over the past couple of years CORAL has held benefit auctions of Mexican fine art in order to maintain and expand operations.
The auctions have been held in Mexico City, touting works by predominantly Oaxacan artists. In 2012 the charity will be casting the net even further, by bringing the auction to San Francisco. CORAL recognizes that art, as an important component of material Mexican culture, holds a strong allure for collectors.
Fundraising in the US for worthy Oaxacan causes is nothing new. In fact most charities (CORAL included) are affiliated with American charitable organizations or are otherwise registered so as to enable donors to obtain the benefit of a tax deduction. FOFA (Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art) holds an annual sale in New York to raise funds for young, promising Oaxacan folk artists.
Reaching beyond the borders of the state of Oaxaca to auction its fine art isn’t difficult to understand. Megan Glore, in charge of auction fundraising for CORAL, clarifies:
“For decades Oaxacan art has had not only a national reputation for quality, but many Oaxacan artists have garnered international acclaim; take for example the late grand masters of Mexican art Rufino Tamayo and Rodolfo Morales, and of course Francisco Toledo.
“For next month’s auction in Mexico City (November 9, 2011, at the Hotel Radisson Paraíso) we’ve hired one of Mexico’s top auctioneers, Paco de la Peña from Guadalajara, to auction off works of strictly Oaxacan artists. On the block we’ll have works by prominent artists including Demián Flores, Rubén Leyva, Sergio Hernández, Dr. Lakra, Enrique Flores, Guillermo Olguín, Arnulfo Mendoza, Shinzaburo Takeda, and yes, even Maestro Toledo. We’re continuing to put the works up for auction on our auction webpage.”
Glore’s belief is no doubt nurtured by the fact that Mexico City is home to some of the wealthiest Mexicans, many of whom are patrons of the arts, and in fact aware of the work of the charity. CORAL’s four-pronged program has grown steadily since 1988 when the seeds for the present organization were first planted with the pioneering work of Oregonians Dr. Richard Carroll and Dr. Nancy Press.
CORAL now boasts one of the most impressive multi-facet and comprehensive outreach programs of its type in all Mexico:
• An audiology clinic for testing and diagnosis, repairs and maintenance to hearing aids and hearing-related accessories, and ongoing support.
• A children’s therapy center (with parental involvement a prerequisite) with group sessions as well as individualized treatment.
• An early detection program designed to single out and treat children as early as infancy. CORAL educates public health doctors to recognize and screen for hearing loss behaviors; the doctors are then able to help parents to identify normal childhood development.
• A social work component whereby staff travel throughout the state capital and into the smallest of rural communities to serve deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals through educating, monitoring and providing resources.
But can the auction now being organized for San Francisco in May, 2012, even come close to matching the proceeds it anticipates generating from the Mexico City fundraiser? In Glore’s mind there’s little if any doubt. “San Francisco has a reputation for having a robust art market,” she explains. “Just as important,” she continues, “the people of northern California have a particularly strong and longstanding connection with Oaxaca, as well as an appreciation for the art of Mexico.”
Mexican art, and indeed Oaxacan art, has been exhibited over the years much further abroad than the nation’s capital and in the US – throughout Europe and the Middle East, Australia, South American and even Japan. It shouldn’t take a leap of faith to be confident that a Mexican charitable organization with a mission as worthy as that of CORAL, will succeed in its foray into fundraising through fine art auctions, in Mexico, and internationally.
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