Entertainment » Culture

POBA Site Helps Preserve Legacies of Artists Lost to AIDS

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Aug 28, 2014

From a literary lion with a hidden gift for drawing, to a young choreographer whose early success was cut short in the early years of AIDS, many established and undiscovered artists leave behind a wealth of work with little or no direction on how it should be preserved for future generations. Now, their legacy lives on with POBA/Where the Arts Live, an online platform.

"A whole generation of the best and brightest creative talent had their lives and their work cut short," said POBA Spokesperson Jennifer Cohen. "Though we'll never know all of the great work they had ahead of them, we can and should celebrate the great work and stories they left behind. They can still "speak' to us, if we have the opportunity to listen. That's what POBA does, it gives us the chance to hear and see the exceptional creative output of an entire generation that might otherwise be silenced by the passing of time."

Dedicated to helping families, representatives, estates, publishers and anyone who owns the rights to an artist's creative legacy, POBA is an online platform that provides the first and most comprehensive resource for preserving, showcasing and promoting the work of artists who died without recognition of the full measure of their talents.

Taking its name from the phonetic pronunciation of the Tibetan word "phowa," which refers to the transfer of consciousness at death to a new life, POBA recognizes that many people -- from loved ones to business and estate managers -- are unprepared to deal with the work left behind by artists. POBA offers a simple, affordable and professional way to digitally preserve works in all artistic disciplines and make it accessible for new audiences to discover and experience. In the coming months, POBA will also present special online events such as streamed performances, readings of selected works, and curated exhibits with video introductions.

Reflecting the breadth of artists who can benefit from the service, POBA launched in August with an inaugural public collection featuring virtual galleries of nearly two dozen founding artists: from author Norman Mailer's rarely seen Picasso-inspired drawings to the performances and choreography of American Ballet Theatre wunderkind Clark Tippet to the recently discovered music demos by Badfinger's Pete Ham and Tom Evans, whose song "Baby Blue" in last year's "Breaking Bad" finale introduced the band to a new generation of fans.


"Clark was my brother, and we all loved him. When ABT asked POBA to put together an exhibit on Clark, we were very excited, but also a bit overwhelmed: where was everything -- the DVDs, videos, pictures, scrapbooks--and how do we make them 'work' for an exhibit?" said Clark Tippet's sister, Janie Tippet. "It was all bits and scraps and nothing digital. We needed help! And we got it, pretty easily from everyone connected to POBA. We really became partners in bringing Clark's dancing and choreography back to life. And what a buzz of pleasure and pride it gave to all of us when it was made public. Our brother's awesome dance work should not be missed, and now it doesn't have to be."

Sharon Kyle, niece of stylist and designer Leopold Allen, was similarly excited about the opportunity to keep her uncle's legacy alive, calling him "an artist's artist, literally."

"He had a talent for making everyone on stage look both beautiful and perfect in character -- and with bold styling able to be seen at 200 feet away in the top rows and close up for cameras," said Kyle. "He had a dream to make folks look great off-stage, as well, through his fashion designs. Without POBA, Leopold's work for ABT would have been long lost, a footnote at best in the history of dance. Without POBA, his fashion designs, his true passion, would never have seen the light of day. Now, his work is seen, and can be seen as an important and skillful artistry on its own. What a great thing, to have an artistic second life."

Allen's work is part of a growing collection that puts a deserved spotlight on many artists whose work received little or no public recognition in their lifetimes. Included among POBA's treasures is a portfolio of paintings and writings by Jamie Bernard, a young artist whose death inspired his family to found POBA. Left with a wealth of his work and no existing platform on which to share it with the world, his family decided to create a permanent online home for his and other's artworks that might have otherwise faded from public view or been lost forever.


"Too many artists of tremendous ability leave behind large collections of stunning works, but often their loved ones and representatives have no idea how to preserve and share them with the public," said Sallie Bernard, president of The James Kirk Bernard Foundation. "POBA offers a simple solution for helping such works find the audience and attention they deserve."

Art lovers can join POBA through a free Basic Membership to receive updates on POBA artists, exhibits and events, to nominate exceptional artists whose legacies should not be overlooked, and to receive help in finding assistance in preserving, cataloguing, archiving, appraising, developing and promoting an artistic legacy. Artwork can also be purchased by contacting at shop@poba.org.

Families, estates, representatives, publishers and anyone who owns the rights to an artist's work can become a Showcase Member with a free, two-month trial membership plus 30 day money-back guarantee; and $49.95 annual membership fee thereafter. Membership provides for: secure storage of digital files of any kind (up to 5 gigs); the ability to create and recreate portfolios of the artist's work for display on POBA; free personal consultation to assist with online and physical storage, archiving, cataloguing and more to preserve, protect and promote an artist's works; and opportunity to have artist works included in special online exhibitions, events and other benefits.

"POBA is a place where a diverse and surprising selection of outstanding art can be experienced, enjoyed and shared," added Jennifer Cohen, managing partner of Songmasters, which designed and developed POBA. "POBA is meant to be easy, beautiful, and respectful of the artist and the artistry, a space that anyone responsible for an artistic legacy can use and a destination for anyone seeking to discover art and artists."


For more information on POBA memberships, visit https://poba.org/membership/

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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