Entrepreneur and art collector Branden Michael Powers is currently giving away 100 pieces American folk art and outsider art by leaving them on the streets of Las Vegas.
The owner of the 15n Creative marketing and consulting firm decided to give away the work because he believes that folk art is for the people, by the people.
“I decided to give away the art because it belongs with the people. I am merely a ‘steward’ for the original artists,” he says. “We don’t truly own anything. We are custodians of it while here, until it passes to another person’s hands.
“I am facilitating that passage, hoping it will fall into the hands of someone who would appreciate it. Once they are done appreciating it I hope someday they will do the same and pass it along.”
Since September 30th, Powers has been planting one piece of art per day, and will continue daily until he has given away 100 works of art. Aside from the pleasure of the found art, the uninitiated may be surprised to learn of the value of the “trash” they find on the side of Vegas roads. Pieces by Daniel Johnston, Wesley Willis, R.A. Miller, Howard Finster and other American folk artists will be free to find a good home.
Powers plans to leave most of the pieces in downtown Fremont Street near the arts district, but will also plant pieces on the Strip and in lower income neighbourhoods. He aims to spread folk and outsider art throughout the different social strata that exist in the diverse areas of Las Vegas and to give everyone to have access to quality art. To accomplish that he will quite literally share his collection with the community.
While he believes that more collectors should make their collections accessible to the public, he concedes that few will want to do it in quite the same way.
“Since art is so personal it’s not for me to tell other collectors what to do with their art. That is their own decision. However, I do believe that art should be free for all to access,” he says.
“Museums and galleries should open their doors to all. Private collectors should follow suit. Bring your collections off your walls, out of your basements and share them with the world. I am hoping that my actions over the next 100 days will motivate others to do the same.”
Powers was recently named “The Most Interesting Man in Las Vegas” by the Las Vegas Weekly. In the same article they also called him “Las Vegas’ most beloved weirdo”, a term he embraces with vigour. You can spot him on the Streets of Vegas cruising around in his 1979 Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am, complete with working 8 track player and flame shooting exhaust.
He has received the honour of being in the “Who’s Who in American Business” and has lectured at many of the nation’s top colleges. The former Creative Director for Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Powers recently left to start his own marketing, branding and creative Agency called 15n Creative.
Powers is listed in the Wikipedia as one of the two founding fathers of the incredibly popular and financially successful underground Rave Movement in the 1990’s. He and his partners are well-known for organizing and throwing the internationally known OPIUM and NARNIA Festivals that reached in size of 60,000 plus people in attendance a feat unheard of at that time.
Powers’ collection of American folk art and outsider art has grown so vast over the years, that he decided it was a crime for it to stay in storage. However, the giveaway does not mark the end of his art collecting days – and while he buys art that moves him with no concern for its investment value, he recognises the value that any art investor brings to the art world.
“I love art and will always support artists. I believe more money needs to be channelled to the arts. It’s what separates us from all other creatures. So of course I would support those who invest in art. I do think it’s a great investment.”