Armond Lara was born in 1939 in Denver, Colorado, of Navajo and Mexican descent. He studied at the Colorado Institute of Art, Glendale college in California, and the University of Washington in Seattle . In addition Lara worked and studied with Pablo O'Higgins, Mexican Muralist, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, and Paul Horuechi. Armond Lara currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"If one aspires toward fulfillment in the pursuit of creative endeavors, one must cling to the philosophy that any creative endeavor is no more than the pursuit of self-enlightenment, and that the process of this inner search should not be confused with the dogma of academic intellect, but rather, the intellect of that inner being composed of the soul and the subconcious."
"I'm just a child of the world," he says. "Everyone identifies with beads. They are in everyone's background. I use flapper purses, Native American beads...But, at the same time, I resist being called an Indian artist. For art to survive, it just has to be art." Armond Lara Advocates for Affordable Health Insurance Vision, an origonal voice, and a sense of humor have served Santa Fe artist Armond Lara well. Mr Lara's passions extend well beyond his canvases, particularly when it comes to fellow artists.
During a recent trip to Seattle to exhibit his works, the 61-year-old shared his thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of health insurance for artists. "Most artists," he contends, "have no insurance. If an accident happened, or they became ill, they would be wiped out." With equal measure of fervor and charm, Lara devotes a great deal of time and energy advocating for affordable health insurance for artists. He believes that City governments should partner with galleries and non-profit arts organizations to create "emergency medical funds". Following unsuccessful attempts to negotiate affordable healthcare policies for individual artists with several national health insurance companies, Mr. Lara established such a fund in his own community.
The Artists As A Young Man
Mr. Lara acquired a taste for activism several decades ago while working as a City planner in Bellevue. "I had to embarrass the Mayor at that time into passing Bellevue's One Percent for Arts Ordinance. I was always stepping on toes politically, and I enjoyed it!" The Artist As Fundraiser
Since then, he has taken arts activism to new heights. After moving from the Pacific Northwest to sunny Santa Fe, Mr. Lara initiated a "Christmas Cards Fundraising Project" to support artists without health insurance by establishing an emergency medical fund. Drawing on his stature within the international arts community, he has invited friends including Francesco Clemente, Manuel Leary, Herbie Mann, Michelle Pfeiffer (also a visual artist), Val Kilmer (ditto) to produce 6" x 6" Christmas card artworks for this annual event. The works are displayed at a gala affair in which guests bid on their favorite works. The event raises $ 8,000 to 9,000 each year which is distributed to needy artists by a community foundation. According to Lara, "the process of art is a giving one. And artists by nature are very giving. Non-profit agencies often depend on artists to support their fundraising auctions by inviting them to produce works. Little, however , is done in return for them. What's unique about this project, " he continues, "is that it helps build the careers of less experienced artists by givng them credibility. Who wouldn't want to show with Clemente? And, they have the assurance of knowing that the proceeds actually go back to artists!"
Mr. Lara is urging cities to take an active role in caring for artists. He sites Germany, which requires galleries to donate 1% back to organizations that support artists. "I want to do that in Seattle! Let's set a precedent." And in the spirit of altruism, he encourages artists to give back to the organizations that have supported their work. "When I exhibit in a city, I often donate a percentage of proceeds to government arts organizations such as the Seattle Arts Commission. It's my way of giving back, and its something that more established artists should make a practice of," he contends.
Mr. Lara hopes to begin publishing prints of the Santa Fe Christmas Cards. His dream is to market them to museums around the country with proceeds directed to a national artists emergency medical fund. "Why not?", he exclaims. "Actors have the Screen Actors Guild! Why not artists too?" Mr. Lara knows that he alone cannot make this happen. "We need more partnerships with businesses. I'd like to see more galleries donate to programs like this, perhaps in partnership with arts organizations, museums and City government." I have just one word of caution," he warns with a smile, "when you set up an emergency medical fund, made sure it doesn't cover mental health. We artists are a crazy bunch. We'd drain the money in a day!"