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.
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.