BLOG: Interview with James Elaine, founder of Beijing's nonprofit Telescope gallery
Curator James Elaine has been seeking out emerging artists for over 25 years—first on behalf of the Drawing Center in New York and then for the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where he implemented the highly respected Hammer Projects series, focusing on emerging international and local talent. His current endeavor, single-handedly founding a non-profit gallery in Beijing, China, takes place in a small storefront of a former massage parlor, but in many ways the task is much larger than anything he’s ever done before. “The whole country is emerging,” Elaine gushes, with admiration and incredulity. With virtually no native model for nonprofit organizations and little history of institutionalized philanthropy up until very recently (in April, Jack Ma, CEO of Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant Alibaba, announced plans to institute an organized charitable endeavor, which marked him as the first of China’s billionaires to do so), Elaine is a pioneer. He hopes to create for emerging artists a much-needed respite from China’s consuming market—a thoughtful place to develop a body of work outside of prescriptive economic forces and collectors’ demands.