Canvas work

Lincoln County Artists Organize Art for Ukraine

From left, Jane Herbert, Penny Moody, Marnie Sinclair, Sally Loughridge, Betty Heselton and Lyn Asselta pose as a group with a painting painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag in Damariscotta on April 22. The six artists organized the Art for Ukraine sale to be held in Damariscotta on April 29-30. (Photo Bisi Cameron Yee)

“Art is the highest form of hope,” said renowned German artist Gerhard Richter, and that sentiment was recently echoed by Maine artist Lyn Asselta as she explained her participation in the upcoming Art sale. for Ukraine.

Art for Ukraine is the brainchild of Sally Loughridge, from South Bristol, who pitched the idea of ​​a fundraiser to a group of six artists who meet regularly to create and critique art.

“The Face of Courage”, a painting of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy by artist Sandra Dickson, is one of the works donated to the Art for Ukraine sale. While the art sale showcases a range of artistic styles and subjects, Dickson’s painting was directly inspired by events in Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of Sandra Dickson)

“I walked in and said… why don’t we have an art sale to help Ukrainians? And everyone jumped on board. Within 24 hours I had created posts on Facebook…and then it was gone and stolen,” she said.

It was only six weeks ago. In a very short time, Loughridge along with Asselta and local artists Jane Herbert, Betty Heselton, Penny Moody and Marnie Sinclair came up with a plan, found a venue, looked into charities, spread the word and received over 70 donated works. for sale.

“What we need now are customers,” Loughridge said.

The sale will consist of ready-to-hang framed artwork and tabletop sculptures 14 inches by 18 inches or smaller, one per artist, the size necessarily small to include a wider range of works. The six host artists have designated Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children as the organizations that will benefit from 100% of the money raised by the sale.

Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust will host the event. “Providing space for the show felt like a small way to contribute to their important effort,” executive director Steven Hufnagel said in a press release announcing the sale.

“It’s a beautiful room with a birch ceiling, birch floor, white walls, lots of windows,” Loughridge said, calling the space “lovely and light.”

Live instrumental music will further enhance the sailing atmosphere.

Art for Ukraine is not a thematic exhibition, although much of the work will be representative, according to Loughridge. Many contributing artists are known for capturing Maine’s landscapes and seascapes in oil, acrylic, watercolor, and pastel.

Loughridge said she chose to donate a painting “that I thought might resonate with the people of Maine – a quiet, peaceful, gentle scene.”

Herbert chose a piece that depicts Popham Beach in Phippsburg, a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. She felt it had broad appeal that would make it likely to sell.

Other contributors work in different media. Sinclair, a renowned environmental artist, donates a puffin formed from orange yarn. And Heselton’s statue of Demeter, goddess of agriculture, is sculpted from high-fired clay.

Herbert, an outdoor and landscape artist from Damariscotta, called Loughridge not only the spark of the idea, but also the one who had the organizational skills to bring it together.

She is not surprised by the donations that poured in when they launched the appeal.

“Any artist who has worked their whole life has a lot (of art). We all have a lot of it,” she said. “We are happy to share it … We do what we do to help humanity in every possible way.”

For Asselta, the way art is linked to hope explains why artists are so often involved in fundraising for humanitarian causes. “(Art) is the only thing that goes on,” she said.

Sinclair agreed, noting that the art survived the demise of many civilizations. “It’s eternal.”

For Sinclair, whose work sometimes veers into the political, art has a role to play in battling what she calls “a crisis of hope” that is becoming increasingly evident as the war in Ukraine continues. week after week.

“They didn’t invite that,” Loughridge said. “They didn’t invade Russia. It happened to them. »

Loughridge has no particular family ties to Ukraine.

“It’s more of a human connection,” she said. “It is people like us who are suffering and who are being attacked. I feel for all of them, especially for the families, children and mothers who had to flee… Many of them do not know when they will see their loved ones again.

Loughridge hopes Art for Ukraine will show that local efforts can make a difference. “Maybe it will spur other projects,” she said.

“I just think it wakes people up to how fragile our democracy is, how fragile everything is,” Heselton said, regarding the situation in Eastern Europe and its wider repercussions.

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Sandra Dickson, who grew up painting with her grandmother on Monhegan Island, hadn’t originally planned to make the oil on canvas she donated for sale. She was painting from a plaster bust of a man who looked a bit like Mark Twain in a studio in Thomaston. A group of fake sunflowers stood next to the bust, so she included them.

As the composition fell into place, Dickson added the Ukrainian flag and began to rework the anonymous bust depiction with the features of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The day after she finished the painting she titled “The Face of Courage”, she saw the announcement for the Art for Ukraine fundraiser. The proceeds from the sale of the painting will now help the people of Zelenskyy to survive.

A small bronze sculpture of a mother and child embracing by the late sculptor Cabot Lyford is another work donated for sale.

“Throughout his career…Lyford, a World War II veteran, maintained his commitment to social activism, often through his artistic imagery in support of humanitarian causes,” according to his daughter Julia Lane, member of the local musical duo Castlebay. “Doctors Without Borders was a frequent beneficiary, and would be happy to be included in this effort to help Ukraine.

Lane said that as a soldier in the Philippines, Lyford painted domestic scenes, water buffaloes, herons. He created expressions of beauty in the midst of despair. Lane said it was his way of dealing with the horror he saw.

Loughridge said when she received Lane’s call about donating the sculpture “which for me was so in line with the Ukrainian situation, the angst…I like the idea that she wants to donate of that.”

Lane called the sculpture, titled “Camden Hills Mother and Child”, a representation “of how we are sustained by the earth and its nurturing qualities”.

Cabot Lyford’s works can be found in a number of museums, galleries, and permanent collections in New England and the United States, including the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland.

« I know that art is a therapeutic and healing quest. I’ve used it that way in my own life,” Loughridge said. “I think all of us in this group have used it during the pandemic as a way to stay stable, as best we can. It seems like a good way to (help) Ukrainians.

“If the artists show up, the work is there, people are excited and we sell a number of (paintings), that will be a hit for me,” Loughridge said. “I don’t have an amount in mind. The more, the better. I want things to sell and I want the money to go to Ukraine. It’s quite simple.

Art for Ukraine is a sale of original artwork by Maine artists to benefit the people of Ukraine. The sale will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday April 29 and 30 at the Denny Conservation and Education Center at Round Top Farm, headquarters of the Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust. The address is 3 Round Top Lane in Damariscotta.

Purchases can be made in cash or by check.

All proceeds from the sale will go directly to Doctors Without Borders or Save the Children to help with their humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.