Please help our friend Matthew Baum
My name is Matt Pickens, and I am asking for your assistance in helping Matt Baum, one of my closest, lifelong friends, to get back on his feet after a devastating setback. Having spent the last 15 years in New York City studying photography, taking pictures and showing his art, printing for other artists, and developing as a teacher and mentor to other photographers. Matt headed to California to bring to fruition his vision of a photography center where people would be able to explore, learn, and enjoy photography, whether as a hobby or profession. Almost like a CrossFit, but for photography, it would be a community center with teaching, mentorship, and the resources to help photographers make their creative dreams into reality. A place to learn, explore, create, share, work, and grow through photography.
Matt packed up his entire life - all things personal, all of his valuable equipment needed to start the business, and many years worth of work as an artist - into a yellow Penske truck with his car in tow on a trailer. Along with his dog, Finn, he drove across the country to Napa Valley, where he planned to open his business.
Napa would be an ideal setting for Matt's artistic style and his need to be surrounded by nature after 13 years of living in Brooklyn.
Early on the morning of October 31st., the day he was to move into the apartment where he would begin this next chapter of his life and the pursuit of his dream, he walked outside to find that the moving truck and trailered car were gone. Stolen. Everything Matt owned was in that truck. In a panic, he searched the neighborhood where he was staying. Nothing. It was gone without a trace. All of it.
What was in the truck? Everything Matt owned: His clothes. His computers, large format printer and extensive collection of professional photo equipment. A considerable personal library and all keepsakes. A beloved collection of valuable guitars. Furniture and homeware. A collection of photographs and artwork from colleagues and friends. And perhaps most painfully, all of his creative work from the last 15 years, much of it handmade and unique. An estimated $75,000 to $100,000 of equipment and belongings needed to start his new life and business in California.
We have all faced struggles in our career paths, but that of an artist is especially challenging: Lack of stability and financial security. Self-provided health insurance. Having to not only make art, but be a salesman and market yourself. Not compromising your creative work for money. The ever-present question of whether one’s work is valued, and facing constant rejection and criticism. Matt embraced this path with joy and perseverance, and over the years grew as an artist and mentor to many others.
Regarding Matt’s work - if you’ve seen it, you know his quirky street photographs and the gorgeous triptych photographs he has made, capturing majestic mountain vistas, long overgrown Civil War battlefields, and dramatic cityscapes. Matt’s dedication to the American landscape has led him to travel across the country multiple times, covering all of the lower 48, and giving him unique insight into the meaning of place in our lives. You can see some of his work on his website: www.matthewbaum.com.
Matt is going through a range of emotions, as any of us would be. Currently, he and Finn have returned to the East Coast to regroup and figure out how to rebuild. I was truly awestruck that he was able to laugh at the fact that before this trip he had finally narrowed his wardrobe down, getting rid of old college t-shirts and such…little did he know that his entire wardrobe would be reduced to a few pairs of pants and a few shirts.Our goal is to help Matt get back on his feet with the necessary resources to return to Napa Valley and start his business as quickly as possible. Insurance will likely cover the car and truck, but is unlikely to cover most of the things he needs in order to practice his profession: cameras, lenses, photo printers, and computers. In any scenario, Matt’s losses will make it very difficult for him to pursue his dream in the near future. Many people have asked how they can help, so in an effort to keep things simple, his sister Johanna and I have decided to consolidate the effort with a GoFundMe initiative.
So we are asking for your help. If you’ve enjoyed Matt’s friendship, participated in one of his classes, appreciated his artwork or can relate to ever having received a helping hand when you needed it, please consider helping Matt. He has a beautiful dream of connecting people through art and photography. It would be a loss for so many to let that dream be snuffed out by the selfish act of thieves.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for any help you are able to provide in getting Matt back to pursuing his dream.
An article on the theft in the Napa Valley Register can be found here:
- M M
- Matthew Brooks
Organizer and beneficiary
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