Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Poll - Who Does More for Alaska - Hugo Chavez or Alice Rogoff

The Alaska House wants almost $1,000,000.00 of Alaskans' money to keep a pricey, upscale gallery open in Manhatten's swank Soho District. At the gallery, owner proprietor Alice Rogoff shows off her growing collection of Alaskan art. Every time the gallery is profiled or has an event, the worth of Alice's personal collection probably goes up.

Alice doesn't want to discuss her finances or be very specific about how she may profit from The Alaska House (it is a non-profit corporation), but she wants the Alaska Legislature to fork over something between $600,000.00 and $875,000.00 to keep the place open and staffed over some indefinite future time frame.

Alice (whose husband is war profiteer David Rubinstein, who may have made billions investing in the killing of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and so on) is currently bankrolling the electronic daily, Alaska Dispatch. I love the Dispatch, and Rogoff's money has led, over the past three months, to the hire there some of Alaska's best writers.

One of Rogoff's biggest backers for ripping off the .875 million dollars, is Kodiak-based state legislator, Gary Stevens:

Alaska House was to be on the agenda at the Legislative Council's meeting on Oct. 28, but was pulled because lawmakers who wanted it discussed were unable to attend. One was the president of the Senate, Kodiak Republican Gary Stevens.

"It's a great venue for Alaskan artists and discussions and debates on Alaska to help people in New York understand what Alaska is all about," he said. "The question is, should there be state money and if so, how much?"

How about NONE, Gary.

Let us encourage Alice to finance the dang thing from some out-of-state foundations. Or in-state, for that matter. That million bucks could buy a lot of fuel for Alaska villages this winter, for one thing. Or windmills. Or greenhouses. Or better research on finding out why the salmon runs on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers are dying.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government and Citgo, spurred on by Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, are going through with their plans to once again grant millions of dollars worth of fuel vouchers to some Alaska's neediest. No doubt, some Native Alaskan artist, his hands warmed by Hugo's fuel, will create some wonderful work of art this coming winter, that will find its way into a gallery, whether or not Alice's is propped open by money from Alaska that should have been sent elsewhere.

Progressive Alaska's new poll:

Who is doing more for Alaska and Alaskans - Alice or Hugo?

hat tip - Celtic Diva


Iaato said...

This is pretty appalling. This woman Rogoff is tone deaf, and the fact that she is missing the poor optics leads me to believe that she is also blind.

Let them eat cake?

Polarbear said...

Alaskans have this unique ability to shoot themselves in the foot when something good is about to happen. When the value of Alaska Native art goes up at Alaska House, the value of all Alaska Native art benefits as a result. When a gifted, emerging Alaska Native artist is working hard to become self-sufficient, all it takes is a bit of recognition from a major market outlet, and all of a sudden, they are making a decent living. Alice Rogoff and Willie Hensley's involvement with Alaska House has to do with economic development. Sure, the value of Alice Rogoff's art goes up, but so does the value of the small collections of Alaska Native art appreciatively owned by tens of thousands of Alaskans. Given the size of Ms Rogoff's total holdings, I seriously doubt this increase in value is a prime motivator for her.

We progressives are given to complaining about wealth that is sequestered by rich Americans, thereby unavailable for investment. Well, here is an example of a wealthy Progressive who is investing in worthy causes - not just Alaska House but also a number of other economic development ventures.

As Alaska House - New York works to create new and improved markets for Alaska Native art, I look forward to the day when additional Alaska Houses are added in other major urban centers. Alaska Natives artists will benefit from this helping hand.

Last, that some imaginary choice between Hugo Chavez and Alaska House exists is simply contrived reasoning. Attempting to artificially polarize a subject is a strategy best left to Republicans, not Progressives.

Philip Munger said...

Surely Alice's husband can come up with the $875K himself, Polarbear.

At a personal worth of 2.5 billion dollars, his support of the Alaska House would be the equivalent of me donating $87.00 from my annual UAA salary. I donate about 25 times that much to the arts in Alaska per year.

clark said...

polarbear raises some interesting points, but philip is ultimately correct. let alaska house organize as a nonprofit and apply for foundation money and state grants and be evaluated on the same basis as everybody else... it needs to be a level playing field.

Philip Munger said...


I believe they already are a non-profit. The ADN article says that, IIRC...

PB has some good points, though. Off to work.

Polarbear said...

Alaska House already is a non-profit foundation. In addition to Alaska Native art, the program also supports Alaska literature, including readings, and performance art, including orginal Alaska music compositions and video programs.

What is happening here is a common practice in moving a non-profit forward. This growing and progressive non-profit is working to move toward financial sustainability. The board is testing the waters, looking for broader community support and additional investment to get over the hump and become financially self-sustaining. Alaska House already has private investment, so they can make a case that any public grants are already leveraged (made more effective) by proven private commitment.

The Legislative Council is a good and relatively innocuous place to start. They are going to kick around the Alaska House concept, and consider different pathways of financial support. We ought to be supporting the discussion.

I would like to draw your attention to a program of somewhat similar organization, also with founding board members Hensley and Rogoff - the Alaska Manufacturing Extension Partnership (IMEP) (http://www.ak-mep.org/).

I really like IMEP, because they work to recognize small-scale innovation and support the entrepreneurs as they bring their products through development and business incubation to generating income for the new business. Alaska does not have a strong entrepreneurial investment community, particularly for rural inventors, so IMEP fills a true need.

Both Alaska House and IMEP are good, progressive, economic development programs producing results. We should be supporting them.

Philip Munger said...


I'd like to draw your attention to the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Last year they provided scores of grants to Alaska artists and arts organizations. Their entire 2008 budget was about as much as what Rogoff initially requested.

clark said...

i have to admit this whole discussion brings up a lot of conflicting, emotional issues and further questions. on a superficial level, what rogoff is doing at dispatch is wonderful -- keeping people who ADN could no longer afford writing about alaska, and demonstating a strong committment via a new and somewhat risky business model. admirable, unexpected, gratifying. but it's hard to totally ignore the source of her husband's money [even though it is none of my business, right?].
same concern, vis alaska house? i'm not sure... it's uncomfortable to suggest a connection if one really isn't there. should we always consider the achievement and worthiness of any organization seeking public funds in a vacuum? what is fair?
i can contemplate ANILCA and everything positive it has done for alaska's indigenous peoples, but still be concerned that many of today's native corporations are tied into close management-investiment relationships with defense subcontractors.
as a society we came around to mostly agreeing that we should divest south african investments in the '80s. and darfur, more recently. is this situation at all similar? i don't know.
it doesn't feel right.

Polarbear said...

Phil: The Alaska State Council on the Arts may indeed be the best vehicle - who knows. Having the discussion at the Legislative Council may lead exactly in that direction, with possible supplemental funding for ASCA. Frankly, I am encouraged to hear Gary Stevens is interested.

Thanks for a spirited discussion.

MC Dopemine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MC Dopemine said...

Forgive me if I don't give a damn about the relative value of anyone's fetishized Native art collection.
I've got one of those fancy NYC MFAs and can tell you that the relationship between artist and dealer generally apes the dynamic of servant and master. I can also relate that the societies best able to produce great art are the ones that are not scrambling to meet their basic needs. First, the citizens need food, fuel, and education. The reason why savvy New York buyers want Native art, is because they know that the value will skyrocket when the last Native village has been razed. Everytime I see some $60,000 Native-made antique blanket, it makes me genuinely sick. I'm one of Steven's constituents, I'll be contacting him. I think I'll find out what Sven Haakanson thinks. He's probably the only one capable of changing my mind on this....if he'd even want to.

Yusef Asabiyah said...

An extremely wealthy woman wants the State of Alaska to give her nearly a million dollars.

An extremely unwealthy man (me) also wants the State of Alaska to give him (me) nearly a million dollars.

Both the extremely wealthy woman and the extremely unwealthy man (me) contend the money is wanted to benefit Alaskans at large.

(I'm not currently a non-profit, but I can be quite quickly--it's a matter of paperwork and the paperwork is elementary--I'll be reasonable and won't officially accept the money until all paperwork has been finalized.)

So the requests are receiving fair and equal consideration? The wealthy woman and the unwealthy man both have the ear of the legislator? Oh yeah. It'd be very intelligent move for a legislator to be associated with the transfer of state money to this wealthy woman (the back scrather's back will be scratched in turn) whereas NO reward would be forthcoming from the unwealthy man (me.)


hermes said...

This is a good discussion overall in my opinion. Many good points have been made by participants so far and some important points on this topic have as yet been unmade as well (later, maybe).

While it’s healthy for progressives to have spirited debate among ourselves about any and all topics can we please remember a basic principle or two as we do so:





Philip Munger said...


Your caps are stuck.

MC Dopemine said...

@ Hermes...

$800,000 for libraries, trails and parks in the bush? Count me in.
$800,000 to form an artists-driven collective of Alaskan Artists? Sounds Great.
That's not at all the same thing as funding a gallery in SoHo.

Tallimat said...

Ah... Does it matter if it's a non profit, or a international company? Does it matter if it promotes all things Alaskan?

China Airlines took advantage of a grant for incentives to keep flights going into Anchorage... Is it any different than Alaska House asking for 600 grand?

Sure the differences between China Airlines and Alaska House are huge, but hey, it is Ted Stevens International Airport...

Now for a shameless self promotion = tallimat.blogspot.com

Philip Munger said...


Thanks for the comment. Good luck with your blog. Your perspectives are refreshing!