Artists join to help tsunami victims


Published: Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 10:16 p.m.

Lauren Garber was talking to a friend about the devastation caused by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and it got her thinking.

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From left, artists Tina Mullen, Sarah McNeill, Margaret Tolbert and Lauren Garber with just a few of the items that will be auctioned Sunday. It was Garber who hatched the idea for the benefit.

BRYAN TUDEEN/Special to The Sun

Facts

'Turn the Tide'

What: a silent auction benefit for victims of the tsunami, with money going to the American Red Cross International Relief Fund. There will be music provided by the Turkey Scratch Ramblers and catering by Elegant Events.

  • When: Sunday, 6 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: The Atlantic, 15 N. Main St.
    n For more information: Call 374-0988. Those wishing to make donations to the benefit can bring them by the Atlantic from 1 to 5 p.m. today.

  • A year ago, Garber, an assistant professor at the University of Florida School of Art and Art History, had lost her mother. And now, halfway around the world, there were others who had lost mothers, fathers, whole families.

    "It's unfathomable the amount of sadness in the world," she said. "One day there are 140,000 less people in the world."

    So, last week, after returning from a morning run, the idea for the Turn the Tide benefit silent auction for tsunami relief popped into her head.

    She thought local artists might be interested in donating pieces to help raise money for the American Red Cross International Relief Fund. Before the week was over, the response had given her one of those "this is what I love about Gainesville" moments. She had been promised more than 100 gifts and services to be sold Sunday at the auction.

    Debbie Branson, executive director for the North Central Florida Chapter of the American Red Cross, will be attending the auction. She says the event is just one of many that shows the outpouring of concern in the community.

    "We've been getting calls all week," Branson said.

    Photographer Randy Batista, a veteran of fund-raising art auctions, says he thinks the idea is fabulous, and he's amazed at how quickly it's come together.

    "The artists are always there for people," Batista said. "You mention it and they say, 'What can I give?' "

    Batista is just one of the well-known artists who have chipped in. The list includes: Jerry Uelsmann, Richard Heipp, Eleanor Blair, Tina Mullen, Arnold Mesches, Dan Stepp, Jerry Cutler, Jeff Knee, Suza Talbot, Maggie Taylor, Kenneth Kerslake and many more.

    There will also be haircuts from Ciao Bella Salon; a dinner with Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan; meals from Ivey's Grill; tickets for the musical "Contact" at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts; bottles of wine; video rentals; flowers; and health-club memberships.

    Artist Margaret Tolbert plans to donate a painting of Paynes Prairie, a springs painting and a sketch she made in Turkey.

    Tolbert says when she looks over the list of donors she sees an event that has been able to bring the town, students and the university together for a common cause.

    "I think it's a hallmark; it's what makes a community," Tolbert said.

    Gary Kirkland can be reached at (352) 338-3104 or kirklag@gvillesun.com.

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