Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Beginnings

On December 8, 2010 my friends, Carrie and Mike, delivered their new baby boy, Joey, who is now two weeks old. I wish I could say that I took the photograph of him and his father. When I saw it, I knew I had to paint it. Carrie emailed me the image, and though I never paint portraits, this one of Mike and Joey is an exception. I started the under painting a few days ago, and I think I may be able to pull it off.

It struck me as very coincidental because “New Beginnings” is the theme of the Second Wednesday Open House at A Unique Gallery on January 12, 2011. I realized that if I can finish the painting in time, it would be perfect to exhibit in the show. This Second Wednesday is particularly important to me because the proceeds of sales and the raffle will benefit the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County (MHA). The theme was chosen to acknowledge the opportunities in the New Year for the recently established artists collective, the recipients of MHA’s services, and everyone’s chance at a new beginning.

Since 1949, MHA has been dedicated to improving the lives of people who are touched by mental illness. Through advocacy, education, research and outreach, the organization reduces the stigma of seeking mental health treatment and leads a community collaborative effort to increase access to care. My original involvement with the association began over twenty years ago when I owned my private psychotherapy practice. As a healthcare provider I appreciated the support I received from MHA, and now I’m pleased that it will be the recipient of the gallery’s fundraising.

January’s Second Wednesday is also meaningful because my Dad was chosen to be one of the featured artists. If he were still alive, he would be joyful. Dad would have loved Carrie and Mike too, and he would have wanted to do the portrait of Mike and Joey which he would have captured with his pastels. He was great at drawing people, and perhaps that’s what held me back. There was always a bit of competition between us, and I was intimidated by his masterful work. Still, I haven’t really been motivated to do portraits, so perhaps my focus on landscapes had nothing to do with him.

Lupe Lawrence, my friend and a fellow landscape artist at the gallery, shared with me that someone told her she couldn’t paint portraits. That’s all she needed to hear and proceeded to begin painting them. She recently exhibited one of her powerful portraits in the “Peace on Earth” exhibit, which will be on display at the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta until the end of December. I’m hoping my portrait turns out as well.

In any event, I’m looking forward to the “New Beginnings” open house and I’m inviting everyone to attend. It will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 226 Center Street in Jupiter just west of Alternate A1A next to the Ale House in Center Plaza. In addition to my Dad, Herman Schreiber, three other artists will be featured: sculptor Norm Gitzen, and painters Chris Oakes and Genevieve Johnson. Hope to see you there, and in the meantime have a joyous holiday. Happy New Year!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Scary Gallery Experience

Last month, I wrote about gallery experiences without knowing that I was about to face the worst experience ever. Just days after writing the blog, my sister, Jan, suggested that we call the owner of a gallery in Boca Raton which had three of my late father’s pastels. We hadn’t heard from the gallery owner in a while, and Jan thought it made sense to check in with him before the “Season.” She called him on a Saturday and was surprised to get his voicemail and no return call to the message she left. By Monday when we still hadn’t heard from him, I tried calling and emailing.

Feeling slightly paranoid when he didn’t answer either the calls or the emails, I decided to look online. I freaked out when I discovered that the website was down. This did not bode well. Clearly the gallery was closed, and what happened to our paintings!?! After some research, we located the property manager who confirmed that the gallery was shut down, but he was not forthcoming with the whereabouts of our pastels. We were very anxious for a day or two and then decided to call the Boca police.

Our talk with a police officer prompted the gallery owner to return our calls. He sounded devastated about the loss of his gallery and explained that he owed the property management rent money so they were holding the artwork hostage. More calls to the property management went back and forth until we finally reached their lawyer. We informed him that we had a signed Consignment Agreement, a legal document which required him to return the pastels to us.

Thankfully, in just a little over a week we had Dad’s work back. I’m convinced that without the Consignment Agreement our work might still be in storage along with all the other artwork we saw the day we picked ours up. I’m writing this as a warning to any artist who has work in a gallery without a signed agreement. I’m very grateful to J.B. Berkow, a well-known local artist who wrote the book What They Don’t Teach You In Art School. It’s a must read, and the agreement I use came straight out of it.

On a happier note, I’ve been enjoying the Unleashing Creativity Workshops so much that I’ve decided to offer my services as a creativity coach to individuals for private sessions. I met with my first client and found it extremely rewarding.

I’m also pleased to announce that I’m a featured artist for December in a Unique Art Gallery, 226 Center Street in Jupiter, along with Han, Lupe Lawrence, and Nancy Fried-Tobin. Everyone is invited to our Second Wednesday Open House on December 8, 5:30 – 7:30 pm. The theme is “Nurturing,” and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Loggerhead MarineLife Center. Jan and I are happy to announce that we will be showing Dad’s pastels in the gallery beginning in December. Another reason to attend the open house. Happy Holidays!

For the nurturing theme, I’m exhibiting my orchid paintings. The above photos are “Orchids in the Entry” which I just finished and “Orchids On the Fence” from a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gallery experiences improve with Susan Lorenti's A Unique Art Gallery

The past six years, I have had both positive and negative experiences dealing with galleries that have exhibited my paintings. Rare Earth Gallery in Stuart this past year has been particularly pleasant, but nothing can compare to the experience in A Unique Art Gallery in Jupiter, the creation of businesswoman, Susan Lorenti.

Creating art has been a part of my life since the 1960s, and back then I exhibited work at the Cambridge Art Association in Massachusetts. For over two decades I focused on my mental health career, so it wasn’t until 2002 that I joined Women In The Visual Arts and began to exhibit my paintings again. In the past six years, my work has been for sale in eight galleries. The first, 2004 – 2005, was The Unknown Artist in downtown West Palm Beach, not the best experience. Pandora’s Hope, a lovely space in Pineapple Grove in downtown Delray Beach, was much better. Unfortunately the owners couldn’t make a go of it and closed the gallery six months after I joined, but I did have a solo show there in 2005.

Now I’m hoping for better luck in A Unique Art Gallery. Susan Lorenti, who has worked in galleries and frame stores for decades, decided last spring to open a gallery collective. She created the Artists Association of Jupiter (AAoJ) and opened A Unique Art Gallery at 226 Center Street in June 2010. Rather than take a commission on artwork, she charges rent for the wall or floor space an artist occupies. Though each artist has an investment in the success of the gallery, Susan is the director. She is a member of the four person team that she selected to jury in new artists, she hangs the work, and she does the daily gallery sitting. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Most importantly, she has brought together a wonderful group of artists, and like gallery owners of the more distant past, she nurtures and develops each one of us.

If not for Susan I wouldn’t have a brochure or be giving thought to prints and giclees. She encouraged me to do a class, and now I’m running Unleashing Creativity workshops, which pays my rent and is good for my soul. Using my therapeutic skills and integrating the therapist and artist within me has been pure joy. Working with other artists has also been extremely worthwhile. Though I’ve been involved in the Artists of Palm Beach County for a couple of years and have been a board member for the past year, the experience of covering the gallery with Susan and collaborating on Second Wednesday monthly art openings with AAoJ members has been especially rewarding.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the “Season” will bring shoppers into the gallery. Our Second Wednesday theme on November 10, 2010 is “Returning and Re-Discovering Home,” which will showcase four of our artists, Mare, David Willison, Raymonde Tallyrand, and John Rachell. I look forward to this season with enthusiasm and feel grateful for Susan Lorenti and the Artists Association of Jupiter.

The photo above is of Susan Lorenti at the North Palm Beaches Cultural Alliance Event

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dealing With Rejection

It's only the end of September, but the season is beginning to rev up. Next Thursday, October 7, 2010 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. is the opening of Landscapes: Painters of Scenery at the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta. Clay Surovek of John Surovek Gallery in Palm Beach juried the show, and I was pleased to have two of my paintings included in the exhibit. One is "Sin City," a large collage painting of my Las Vegas experience in 2008 (I used the image for a blog I wrote a couple of months ago). The other is "Sugar Sand Park Carousel," a 24" x 30" oil on canvas pictured to the left.

I was particularly pleased when I heard from the Lighthouse, because a couple of days before I received a rejection from “Land-Escape” for "Roman Sunset" (pictured to the right). Coincidentally, the Palm Beach County Art in Public Places exhibit at the airport is having an Artists Reception also on October 7th. In spite of the rejection, I’m nearly finished working on a 24” x 30” landscape of a waterfall and Japanese sculpture in the Morikami Garden, and I’m thinking about doing another collage painting. I decided to concentrate on painting for a while because the rejections from agents and publishers are more discouraging for the time being.

Before I went up north this summer for a two week vacation, I sent a query letter, table of contents, and a chapter of my non-fiction, The Fabulous Art Scene, A Guide to the Art Community in Palm Beach County Florida to Pineapple Press, which publishes books about Florida. I was very optimistic that they would be interested in my regional guide, a compilation of my articles in, so I was deeply disappointed when I received a standard rejection letter. Still the very next day, I emailed a query to Leapfrog Press about my novel, Spirit Seekers. The novel is currently a finalist for a Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Award.

Usually I have to wait weeks or even months to get a response to a query, but the very same day that I emailed the Leapfrog query, I received an email requesting a ten-page sample of the novel. I was so proud of myself that I hadn’t let the Pineapple Press rejection devastate me, and I decided that Leapfrog would be my publishing company. I went off to Massachusetts feeling confident, but not willing to look at email while I was away. I didn’t want to spoil my vacation in case I received a rejection, and I decided I could wait until my return home to check my email.

The rejection arrived last week. It was almost anti-climatic by the time I received it, because I already felt rejected. But I was so busy painting and covering A Unique Art Gallery for the Artists Association of Jupiter that it wasn’t until the actual rejection letter arrived that I realized I hadn’t sent out a query in weeks. I let the art scene (painting, the gallery, openings, and writing Examiner articles) distract me.

At some point though, I probably will again pursue publication. After all, the Florida Writers Conference is in three weeks, and who knows? I may win an award, and I love the manuscripts that are sitting in my closet. I really do believe that they deserve to be published. They may not be the best works ever written, but they are at least as good as much of the stuff out there. Blah, blah, blah… rejection stinks.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to the old grind

Yesterday, August 29, 2010, I returned home from a fabulous two-week vacation, and now I have to face going back to work. The first part of my break was spent on a trip up to Massachusetts where I visited with family and close friends in beautiful surroundings. My cousin, Ed, and my dear friend, Cherie, both live in central Mass. near Northampton. I enjoyed seeing pine tree filled neighborhoods, and Ed took me to a Peace Pagoda erected by Vietnamese priests and nuns in wooded Leverett.

As you walk around the perimeter of the large, white, rounded pagoda, you see four alcoves with statues of Buddha at different stages of his life. Adjacent to the pagoda, a beautiful temple is nearly completed, which was built for anyone and everyone who wishes to pray there, and a lily pond area for walking and meditation is decorated with colorful prayer flags. It was a lovely place to visit.

My main reason for the trip up north was a reunion on Martha’s Vineyard with five old friends, two of them, Bonnie and Carol, from childhood. The six of us had a wonderful time together exploring the island, visiting beaches, and reminiscing. Before and after the Vineyard, I spent time with two other good friends mostly eating in gourmet restaurants and seeing the sights – Bayside to Castle Island in South Boston with Bette and Longfellow’s House in Cambridge with Ronna. I had absolutely no desire to visit an art museum, and for the most part I avoided the art galleries on the Vineyard.

I don’t know if other artists/writers are as driven as I’ve been the last five years. I imagine most are, so I recommend a vacation like this one, which ended back at home with a five-day stay at the beach in Delray to celebrate my sister’s birthday. Wright By The Sea is an affordable resort just south of Linton Blvd on A1A with comfortable suites and wonderful views of the ocean. We were fortunate to have gorgeous weather until the last day, and that made it easier to return home.

I did break my avoidance of all that is art by attending the opening, August 26th, for the Artists of Palm Beach County exhibit at the Crest Theatre in Old School Square on Atlantic Avenue. The show is beautiful. It will be running until October 30th and is definitely worth seeing.

Now I’m back in the studio/office ready to do the under painting on a 24” x 30” canvas thinking about what I will write next and happy, very happy, feeling blessed, for the two weeks and two days away from it all.

Photos: Top middle Peace Pagoda and lower left in Oak Bluffs in the Vineyard

Friday, July 30, 2010

Painting or writing, which to do?

Summer is speeding by, and at times I think I’ve been too busy to enjoy it, although I love the long days. Going out to the patio for a swim in the evening before the sun goes down, is definitely a pleasure I wish I could indulge in year round. This month has been as busy as last with writing, painting, covering the A Unique Art Gallery in Jupiter, going to art receptions, etc., etc.

I’m almost finished with a large collage style painting of Las Vegas that I’ve really been enjoying, but it’s gotten a lot of competition from my writing. I did mail off my novel for The Florida Writers Association 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition, which is now officially closed, and I’m pleased to announce that I am a Finalist for the Women’s Fiction Award. But I’ve already started another writing project that I am very excited about. In fact, earlier this week I mailed a proposal to Pineapple Press. I’m keeping my fingers crossed about all of the above.

The Florida Writers Association’s 9th Annual Writers Conference is being held October 22 – October 24, 2010 in the Lake Mary Marriott. Early registration ends on July 31st, and since I’m planning to attend I mailed my registration this week. Two years ago, I went to the conference and had a wonderful time meeting and networking with fellow writers. One of my writing group friends, Mark Adduci, sat next to me at the Royal Palm Award Banquet, and we were pleased to congratulate each other when thankfully, we both walked off with awards. His was for a suspense thriller Cursed Blessing: Book One of the Trilogy of the Chosen.

Mark did everything one should do to get an agent, but even without one he found a publisher. His book was recently released with his pseudonym J. M. LeDuc, and Mark has been busy doing book signings in bookstores and libraries up and down the east coast. Look for his thriller in local bookstores. A page turner that has an inspirational message of redemption, it’s a really well written book, and he’s a good guy who deserves success. An active member of the Florida Writers Association, Mark leads a critique group in the Wellington Library the second Wednesday of every month from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. I’m hoping I will see him again at this year’s conference.

For anyone who has been thinking about attending the conference but missed the early registration, you can still save some money. If you register by September 22, the cost is $309. After that late registration is $329. This conference promises to be the best one yet, and I would highly recommend it to any active or aspiring writers.

Above is "Sin City" my 36" x 48" soon to be finished oil on canvas.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The business of art

The past month, I have been busy beyond belief: painting, marketing the work, writing Examiner articles, and completing a major edit on a novel I submitted to the Florida Writers Association for a Royal Palm Literary Award. I’m keeping my fingers crossed about that, but whether or not I win an award I do plan to pursue agents and publishers. Writing and sending out query letters is grueling work, which I haven’t had the energy to begin yet, but it must be done.

Meantime, I spent two Saturdays covering A Unique Art Gallery (an art collective in Jupiter that opened on June 1) and hours afterwards putting together a binder for the gallery. Though I use the computer all the time, I’m still only semi computer literate, so it was a lengthy process sizing and laying out the photos of my work to make attractive pages in the gallery binder.

Summer is a difficult time for art galleries. There isn’t a whole lot of foot traffic, so the galleries I have contact with are trying to come up with ideas to get people in the door. At least two of the galleries told me that they want artists to come in and set up their easels. The theory is that people will enter the gallery to watch the artist work and then hopefully will purchase some art.

In the Jupiter gallery there’s room in the back for classes, and that’s certainly one way to attract some people to the gallery. I decided to teach a class on creativity, and I’m hoping that people will sign up for the two-hour workshop, Unleashing Creativity. The class is for the novice who longs for the opportunity to unleash creative potential and for the seasoned artist who wishes to deepen creative pathways and to learn tools for overcoming periods of blocking.

For me it’s the opportunity to use my psychotherapeutic skills without doing therapy. I closed my psychotherapy practice over five years ago, and though I don’t miss being a therapist I like the idea of integrating my new art career with my old expertise. I plan to use art therapy techniques to help participants tap into their unconscious and release their inner muse as well as overcome fears, self-doubts, and self-defeating messages which hamper people in expressing themselves artistically. More and more research indicates that physical and mental health is affected by our ability to perceive in a positive light. People can learn to be more positive. Opening up our creative juices and allowing them to flow freely is one of the pathways to establishing healthy minds and bodies.

Lupe Lawrence, one of my fellow gallery artists, teaches at the Center for Creative Education and at the Artists Showcase, both in West Palm Beach, where she inspires young people to express their artistic natures. She will bring her teaching skills to the A Unique Art Gallery as well. So if we don’t sell art at least we might earn some money helping others to create it.

(Photo by M. Schreiber of Lupe Lawrence and her work at the A Unique Art Gallery)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Art Scene

“The season” is over, but the art scene in South Florida is busy, busy, busy. Considering that our economy is still pretty bad, it’s almost amazing that art seems to be taking off. People who read my Examiner articles often express their surprise at the number of local art events happening each week. It’s really exciting.

Recently, I joined an art collective which is opening a gallery in Jupiter on June 1, 2010. I spent part of Saturday along with my friend, Mag, hanging seven of my paintings and nine of hers in the freshly painted and remodeled space. Susan Lorenti, a warm, savvy businesswoman who has worked in art galleries and framing stores for years, decided to spearhead an artists alliance, and she is very excited about this new venture.

Artists Association of Jupiter presents “A Unique Art Gallery.” Each artist pays a monthly rental fee starting at $50 for a 4’ x 4’ space and up for larger spaces. Susan, who will have her framing business on site, will run the show, but she won’t be taking a commission on any of the artwork. The gallery is located at Center Park Plaza, 226 Center Street in Jupiter, an attractive shopping plaza that already houses Carolyn Austin’s Unique Glass Art gallery. There’s still space for more artists, so anyone interested should email Susan at or call her at (954) 588-7275.

As an active member in the Artists of Palm Beach County (APBC), I am pleased that the proposal we submitted to the City of Delray Beach was awarded. Starting in October APBC will have a 5,000 square foot Art Center in Pineapple Grove. The space will have artist studios, a co-op gallery, exhibition and performance space. In the near future there will be a call for artists to be juried for studio or exhibiting spaces. There will be monthly charges, but artists will run their own gallery space.

In May, Ross Gallery of Art opened at 2900 South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. Owner, Guy Chaifez is a longtime resident who turned his video business into a large, beautiful gallery space with the intention of promoting local South Florida artists.

The recent oil spill in the Gulf has caused much alarm and sadness. Not only are hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of creatures being killed, but the beauty of nature is being destroyed as well. Once crisp clear water is now blackened, and pristine beaches are soon to be tarred. Still the exploding art scene gives me hope. In the difficult times we are living through, we will be okay as long as our creativity prevails.

Top right photo is of Mag's wall in Artists Assoc. of Jupiter and mine is below on the left.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Discerning Friend

Jane just left the house, and now I know how to finish the painting I started nearly a month ago. My sister, Jan, and my friends, Jane and Susan are the people I call on when I find myself stuck. Jan sometimes can’t be objective. She loves almost everything I paint, and when she doesn’t love a painting, her criticism isn’t always helpful. Susan is like Mikey in the TV commercial, I’m just happy when she “likes it.” But Jane is the best. She can look at a supposedly finished piece and point to an area that she feels needs more work, and I know it’s the exact place where I became exhausted and decided the painting was done.

I wonder if all artists go through the same process. I start a painting with a sense of excitement. I’m thrilled as I prepare the underpainting and even more motivated as I add colors. I spend hours and hours at my easel in a delicious trance state. Painting, the process of putting oils on canvas, becomes a meditation, a spiritual contemplation. I don’t feel hungry or tired, and I can ignore the phone, the doorbell, or the people or pets in my surroundings. I forget to eat lunch. My entire being is focused on my work, and I feel wonderful!

Then days, or sometimes weeks, go by, and the painting reaches the final but still unfinished stage. I begin to feel tired and bored. I want to start a new painting. I want to be done! At times I feel disappointed. The painting hasn’t accomplished exactly what I hoped it might. It just doesn’t reflect the vision in my mind’s eye. I keep working but no longer feel euphoric.

Sometimes I’m lucky to get through this period without getting depressed or being hard on myself. I just keep working tenaciously until the painting looks right. But there are the times when I simply stop and decide it’s okay. I tell myself this is the way I want the painting to look. I’ve done enough work. It must be finished. I am simply tired of the process and ready to have my piece. My finished product. No one will notice I tell myself. And in fact no one does or at least no one says anything.

But I can’t seem to sign my name, and later when I look at the “finished” painting I’m just not satisfied. Still I’m usually not sure what to do because most of the time I forget the part I was working on when I ran out of energy. That’s when I ask Jane to take a look. Invariably, she points to the area and says that needs more color or detail or something, and I know it’s back to work on this particular painting. Jane is not an artist. She’s just someone with a very discerning eye, and she respects my work. Sometimes it takes a friend to see the work that needs to be done. I always return to the piece with renewed energy and feel pleased to sign it when I’m done.

Photos: On top, Jane posing in an installation at Showtel in Hotel Biba, and below Susan, Jane, and Jan at a Craft Gallery opening in which Jane is in front of my painting "Before the Hurricanes."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

But is it art?

A few years ago a couple of friends invited me to a Wellington Art Society meeting to hear a lecture given by Gary Schwan, who was the art writer for the Palm Beach Post. Basically, he talked about his belief that most contemporary art was “crap.” Though it’s been a number of years since I heard him speak, I am fairly certain that my quote is correct, since his words made a huge impression.

At the time, I had just closed my psychotherapy practice and was beginning my new career as an artist. I hadn’t even started writing professionally. So being fairly ignorant about art world lingo, when he said “contemporary” I thought he was using the word literally, meaning present-day. And since the room was filled with current artists, I was shocked he was that forthright. As he talked, I did realize that he was referring to the most modern, cutting edge, avant-garde art about which I didn’t have strong feelings, and in part I agreed with him.

Recently, I have felt inundated by contemporary art exhibits, and like Gary Schwan my hackles have risen. First there was a “cutting edge” show at the Armory Art Center followed by Contempo at the Lighthouse Center for the Arts. The Gavlak gallery of Palm Beach had an opening, artpalmbeach at the Palm Beach Convention Center was a contemporary show, and then the Artists of Palm Beach County organized a tour of Whitespace, the Mordes Collection in West Palm Beach. By the time of the Whitespace tour, I was almost totally turned off and even angry about what was being put out there as art. The final straw was the Norton Museum exhibit Here Comes the Sun: Andy Warhol and the art after 1960 from the Norton Collection.

Seeing a circle of rocks being called art was just too much for me, and some of the Norton paintings made my blood pressure rise. I felt the need to verbalize my reactions to colleagues and found that a number of them agreed with me. One said that contemporary art is “novelty and interesting design, some of it very good, but not art.” Another said, “The old masters are rolling over in their graves. You know the saying ‘the emperor has no clothes,’ someone needs to say something. You should write about it.” I was pleased to hear their criticisms. It always feels good to know that you’re not alone, but what do I believe?

Over a year ago I wrote an Art Musings Blog for BestofArtists titled What is Art? in which I talked about my experience in college producing innovative sculptures for a professor who seemed only to appreciate Pop and Op art. To get an A, I gave him work I knew he would enjoy, but to this day I regret that I never learned traditional carving, casting, or modeling. Still when I wrote the article last year I came to the conclusion that my highly creative and amusing pieces were art, because art (which is defined as “the creation of beautiful or thought provoking works”) is subjective. I thought some of the pieces were beautiful, and they were definitely thought provoking.

My problem with a lot of what is currently called art is that it may be thought provoking and it may evoke emotions, but it’s rarely beautiful and a lot of it doesn’t require much skill. It's as if aesthetics are discounted. That’s not to say that all cutting edge art is ugly and unskilled. I recently admired Federico Uribe’s art installation in the new West Palm Beach Waterfront pavilion. He manages to use disposable objects like plastic utensils to create colorful, engaging, and meaningful pieces. Not all of contemporary art is crap, but an awful lot of it is. When I see works that require little skill or talent being lauded, while beautiful but traditional pieces are being overlooked, it makes me mad.

My photos: at top right a portion of Federico Uribe's art exhibit and on the left a view of Whitespace.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fundraising and Haiti

Recently I have felt proud to be part of the arts community. This past week, I realized how many art events I attended or planned to attend that were making charitable donations to important programs or organizations. The first was the Lighthouse Center of the Arts' BraVo exhibition, which will benefit cancer research. It’s an exhibit of art bras created by local artists, and the bras will be auctioned off at a Pink Cocktail Party on February 11th. The proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

This Friday, January 29th, is the opening reception and fundraiser Birds, Birds, Birds for the Audubon Society of the Everglades at Urs Art Studio Gallery at 805 N. Federal Highway in Boynton Beach. The event is free, but organizers are hoping attendees will make a donation at the door. In any event, 10% of the proceeds of sales will benefit the local Palm Beach County Audubon chapter in their endeavors to conserve our landscape and wildlife and in sponsoring events such as the upcoming Everglades Day on February 6th. My sister, Jan, inspired the event, and we are both pleased that six of our dad’s beautiful pastels of birds are a part of the exhibition.

Last week I attended a Neighborhood Art Stroll & Block Party presented by the Whitney, a residential and commercial property in downtown West Palm Beach, and Altima International which featured the work of a number of Cuban artists and the studios of Bruce Helander, Humberto Calzada, and Nathan Gallui Designs. A $10 admission was charged to benefit the Tri County Humane Society. By the time the event took place, however, the earthquake in Haiti had occurred so the organizers decided to divide the proceeds from admissions between the Humane Society and the Haiti Relief Fund.

Since Katrina took place in New Orleans, I can’t think of a natural disaster that has been more devastating than this earthquake. I found myself compelled to watch the news. If any nation was already suffering enough, certainly it was this one. Seeing the documentaries about women, who bake dirt cookies for a living was shocking, and the fact that for many it’s all they have to eat, is unconscionable. How do we manage to live in a world where people experience such impoverished conditions? And why does it take something as traumatizing as an earthquake to make us respond?

At least, we are taking action now. This past weekend there was a City Place Art Festival. The streets of City Place were packed with people viewing arts and crafts from a slew of artists from around the country. In addition to Publix and Muvico, and I imagine a number of other establishments which have been asking for donations, in the middle of the main street at the Arts Festival, there stood a Red Cross booth where attendees could make contributions for Haiti relief.

Local artists have also gotten into fundraising for Haiti. The Flamingo Clay Studio (at Clay Glass Metal Stone Gallery) has put out a Call for Artists for a Haitian Empty Vessel Event in downtown Lake Worth. They are asking artists to donate at least two handmade bowls to the gallery by Saturday, February 27th. Each of the bowls will be sold for $25, and total proceeds will be going to the Haitian relief effort. They plan to work with local restaurants to set up samples of their food on the day of the event. Purchasers of bowls will be able to go from restaurant to restaurant or vender to vender to fill their bowls with food.

Now if only our creative abilities could come up with a way of ending world hunger.

Photo: City Place Art Festival by M. Schreiber