The ArtsOct 01, 2012
Story: Gwen Ragno
Photos: Peter Wochniak
The prolifically edgy RAW:natural born artists collective originated in the LA area three years ago—at first as a nonprofit organization, which morphed into an independent for-profit enterprise and quickly spread across the country. Now, St. Louis has joined the ranks as one of 65 cities with a RAW presence. Each city has a local director, employed by RAW, who serves as part curator and part event planner in putting together monthly showcases for member artists. Each event is a vibrant collage of art from all nine RAW categories: art, fashion, music, film, hair, makeup, accessories, photography and performing art.
St. Louis’ RAW Director, Sarah Faragalla, says the primary benefits of joining the collective are exposure and networking on both local and national levels. All RAW artists are in the first 10 years of their careers, some have never shown their work publicly before, and many have no professional online presence. Upon joining the organization, artists get profiles on the RAW website with professional photographs and videos of their work, whether it’s performance art, fashion, film or visual art. Once selected to participate in a showcase, artists sell 20 $10 tickets, then take home all of the money from any work they sell at the event. Even better, after participating in their first hometown showcase, artists can request to join any RAW showcase across the world—all they have to do is get there. Being a part of the network also gives them access to special offers and opportunities via the RAWk wall, such as discounted marketing materials or distribution packages.
The showcases themselves are anything but craft shows. Faragalla goes to great lengths in encouraging artists to come up with creative, edgy ways of showing their work—and they certainly deliver. Recent St. Louis showcases have seen custom-upholstered chairs suspended from the ceiling and artisan chocolate samples served by pinup-style hostesses, with runway shows, film screenings and live hair and makeup demos at every turn...a veritable circus of creativity. At the end of the year, the RAWards indie arts awards recognize the top RAW artists in the country. Semi-finals happen in each city in November—St. Louis' is on November 15 at The Coliseum—and the nationwide winners are selected in December, then featured at the Hollywood RAWards Show in January.
Faragalla is an STL native who has returned after living for several years in LA and NYC, where she worked in the music video and commercial worlds— wearing many hats, from stylist to art director to production coordinator. As she scours the web, local events and art shows for new artists to bring into the RAW family, she looks for people who show not only talent and quality work, but also a strong drive to launch a successful career. She says, “Even if they’re not polished yet, sometimes those are the ones I am even more excited to show!”
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