Artists for Ukraine presents an opportunity to enjoy original works of art and support a good cause.
The exhibition, which opened at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center on Sept. 2, features more than 150 paintings, drawings, ceramics and other creations, all of which are for sale. All proceeds will be used to purchase humanitarian and medical aid for embattled Ukraine.
RoCo, WXXI, and RocMaidan came together to produce the fundraiser, supported by a number of volunteers. RocMaidan the charitable arm of the nonprofit Ukrainian Cultural Center of Rochester.
Local artists began offering to use their skills to help Ukraine soon after Russian troops stormed across its border on Feb. 24.
“We were contacted by artists throughout the community who wanted to show their support for the courageous people in Ukraine,” says Bleu Cease, RoCo executive director.
Alex Wagenblass was eager to raise money to help Ukraine, a country to which he has a personal connection. Both of the artist’s maternal grandparents emigrated to the Rochester area from there.
“They were very involved in the Ukrainian community,” he says. “I grew up going to Ukrainian Saturday School.”
Wagenblass helped organize Artists for Ukraine and created the vibrant work that became the poster for the fundraiser.
“It was an opportunity to use my skills to help those in need,” he says.
The original will be on display at RoCo, as will two works by his mother, former Rochester resident Christine Wagenblass, who currently lives on Cape Cod. The exhibition will also feature ceramic pieces, as well as such works as “Ukraine Will Win,” an enigmatic acrylic painting by Fairport artist Nina Aranovich.
RoCo and its partners aren’t the only organizations in the Rochester area to stand up for Ukraine. Emergency medical service providers have donated aid in the form of medical equipment and ambulances.
“As of May, there were five ambulances sent there,” says Irene Burke of RocMaidan, who helped organize Artists for Ukraine.
In addition, a mid-March Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra benefit concert netted $58,000 for relief efforts, Burke says. That kind of generosity has helped RocMaidan purchase and ship 100 tons of humanitarian and medical aid to war-torn Ukraine, including hospital beds, medicine, sleeping bags and diapers.
That might seem like a lot, but it’s just a drop in the bucket of Ukraine’s deep need. According to a European Union report, more than 17.7 million people in that country will need humanitarian support and other forms of assistance until the end of this year.
Burke couldn’t predict how much Artists for Ukraine might raise, but says it will be needed.
“Every dollar counts,” she says. “Every dollar.”
Artists for Ukraine, which featured a First Friday opening day reception, will run through Sept. 17. A Second Friday Celebration of Ukrainian Culture with live music is slated for today. Admission to the exhibition is free, but the producers are asking that those attending the celebration make a donation ($10 suggested).
Mike Costanza is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.
We immigrated to America from The Netherlands, in 1957. Shortly, after a brief year and a half in grammar school, I was off to the very best school the RCSD had at the time, Edison Technical and Industrial High School. (that school has been systematically destroyed by the RCSD) There were many immigrants in those days. Our Edison Tech soccer team (as well as other city high school teams) was an international team that would have made any high school jealous. We had Italian, Dutch, German, Polish and yes,…Ukrainians on our team. Today, I feel for the Ukrainians who have been attacked, unprovoked, and brutally murdered by the Russian troops under the pathetic leadership of Vladimir Putin. This man has upstaged Hitler with his ruthless actions murdering woman, children, the elderly and of course those who are defending their homeland, the troops. All that for geographical goals, redrawing a border and destroying everything that appears to get in his way. I stand with Ukraine! Thank you all for doing,… not just things right,…but for doing the right thing! Kudos to all who are involved in this effort!