Founder of ART FOR CHANGE & Collector Jeanne Masel Talks Philanthropy and Art

Founder Jeanne Masel

In 2018, Jeanne Masel founded ART FOR CHANGE to combine her two passions – her love of the arts and her aspiration to aid philanthropic initiatives. Using her perspective as an art collector of over a decade and her meaningful connections within the industry, Masel carefully pairs artists with philanthropic partners, ensuring that their practice contributes to causes they deeply care about. In doing so, ART FOR CHANGE is entirely for the socially conscious art collector, allowing them to spread positive change.

Over the years, ART FOR CHANGE raised over $250,000 for nonprofits, planted over 4,000 trees, and sold over 2,600 artworks. This past pride month, the organization partnered with The Ali Forney Center, the proceeds from limited edition prints from artists such Brian Calvin, Caleb Hahne Quintana, Jeanine Brito, and Jon Key furthering their mission to protect and empower LGBTQ+ youth by providing them housing and support.

In this interview with Art Currently, Masel elaborates on her role as Chief Curator for ART FOR CHANGE, her background, and what artists and causes she’s looking forward to working with this summer.

Caleb Hahne Quintana, It Is Not Only A Village, 2023

What inspired you to found ART FOR CHANGE?

I started ART FOR CHANGE as a way to merge both my love of art and my desire to raise funds and awareness for philanthropic initiatives. ART FOR CHANGE serves as a vehicle for artists to share their work and the causes they are invested in by assigning a philanthropic partner to every project we do. Via this process, our audience discovers some of the best contemporary art at approachable prices but also are able to make an impact on some of the most pressing issues of our day.

As Chief Curator, what goes into your process of selecting artists?

Because our philanthropic partners are such a big part of ART FOR CHANGE, I have to take special care to identify artists that feel personally connected to their project’s philanthropic partner. Each and every artist we work with has to align with our mission in order for the work to feel authentic. This certainly takes more time and thoughtfulness, but it’s something I take great pride in. In addition to identifying incredible artists and important charities, a huge part of our success at ART FOR CHANGE is through selecting the right artworks, some are new commissions and some are works we admire and that tie into our partnership thematically – each case is very unique and bespoke.

Are there any artists or artwork you’re looking to work with next?

We have a Summer Collection coming up that I am really looking forward to. It will feature prints from incredible artists including Nikki Maloof, Scott Reeder, Erik Parker, Summer Wheat, Lucia Hierro, Becky Kolsrud, Hiba Schahbaz, and Patricia Renee’ Thomas amongst others. For many, summer is a beloved season marked by freedom, connection, and a slowed down pace where we can be suspended in waves of light before real life catches back up. These prints really showcase that in a beautiful, symbolic way.

How has your personal experience as an art collector informed your work at ART FOR CHANGE?

My background as a collector is really the starting point of all my work with ART FOR CHANGE. I began with fundraisers for the Brooklyn Museum where I'm on the Advisory Board and one of my first independent endeavors came through artist Gina Beavers, whose art I have in my collection. These relationships and the artists I'm drawn to both collect and collaborate with are often overlapping. It's definitely my point of view as a collector and curator that drives the work at ART FOR CHANGE, which has been such an incredible experience.

What’s your method for pairing up an artist with a non-profit initiative?

We always take special care to ensure that our artist/nonprofit pairings feel authentic. The same way we are constantly seeing new art and talking to artists, we are continually thinking about causes to support. From there, we pair artists with a cause they feel connected to and want to support through their art practice. For example, we just worked with artists Caleb Hahne Quintana, Jon Key, Jeanine Brito, and

Brian Calvin to create new, hand-embellished prints in honor of Pride month. The artworks were on view during the Ali Forney Center annual gala on May 12 and a complete set of 4 artist proof prints were available at the event's silent auction. 100% of the AP proceeds on view went to the Ali Forney Center, a New York City-based community center, in support of their mission to provide housing and support to LGBTQ+ youth.

Are there any non-profits you haven’t worked with yet or causes you have not explored that you would like to?

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, particularly for me as a mother. I'm very concerned about the effects of climate change and its impact on future generations. I’m increasingly interested in planning 10 trees per artwork sold at ART FOR CHANGE as just a front line tactic to combat the effects of climate change.

What does the rest of the year look like for ART FOR CHANGE? Is there anything collectors should be looking out for?

We have a project coming up in August with Shaun Ellison that will be timed to the US Open. This is our second year doing this project with Shaun, and we’ll again plant 10 trees for every artwork sold as part of our ongoing initiative to fight climate change and support reforestation efforts. As a result, we have planted more than 4,000 trees!

Shaun Ellison, Arthur Ashe Meditating