NEW YORK – It is a cliche, and not true of all, but “starving artists” is close enough to reality at some point in their lives to explain why so many artists from Greece and New York who belong to the organizations “SuppARTing Students” volunteered their time and donated their art to an exhibition that will generate funds that will help feed needy children in Greece.
A remarkable array of physical and digital paintings, sculptures, lighting art, comics, collages and engravings will be on display through May 21 at the Tucker Robbins Gallery, suite 504 and the Cliff Young Gallery, suite 505 at the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
The public can visit from 10-6 through May 20. On May 21, when the works will be auctioned, the hours are 6-8 PM.
The 65 artists include professors from the faculty of Fine Arts of Florina and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the all the proceeds will be distributed to 300 undernourished students in 25 primary schools of Thessaloniki.
All the works of art can be seen by scrolling down suppartingstudents.com.
The endeavor was launched by Vasilios Roumeliotis, who had the idea to gather small groups of artists to engage in the mutual promotion of their work, but with a philanthropic dimension.
The idea began as a life coaching project with Metamorphosis, one of the groups that have recently emerged in Greece and which are helping Greeks navigate the economic crisis.
It was established by Dionysios Bougas, the son of Greek singer Tasos Bougas. After studying psychology in New York, but before the crisis hit Greece, he presented life coaching seminars in Athens that Roumeliotis attended.
“The challenge was right in front of us,” he told TNH. The media continually told stories of elementary school children who were hungry,” due to a number of circumstances, but were ashamed to seek help.
Stelios Taketzis was at the gallery on May 14 representing the Hellenic Relief Foundation (HRF) which has been distributing food to the needy for a number of years and is assisting the artists.
“They were looking for someone to manage the funds and they heard about HRF. We agreed to help on condition that the money be sent directly to vendors in Greece,” he said.
Much of the costs are borne by the artists out of their own pockets, and Roumeliotis appreciates the assistance provided gratis by HRF, which he praised for its effectiveness and transparency.
DONATIONS CAN BE MADE THROUGH HRF
Americans who purchase the art at the exhibition will receive a tax exemption through HRF, which is a 501c3 organization.
Donations to the cause can also be made directly to HRF, whose website is hellenicrelief.org.
He explained that school officials SuppARTting Students works with will direct needy students to food vendors – vetted by HRF – that they have made arrangements with. The vendors will be discrete, preserving the dignity of the students, who will come every day for food.
As more artists learned about what the group was doing through blogs, their numbers swelled and at one point they became known to Πολιτιεα Πολιτισμου – Cultural Republic, an organization based in Thessaloniki whose president is attorney Pepi Ansourian.
It is itself brand new but very active, organizing concerts, plays, exhibits, dance presentations all over Greece and in the Diaspora and it helped organize SuppARTing Students.
“The moment I learned about this initiative,” she told TNH, “I liked it very much because it connects art, culture and charity and I moved immediately to help.”
The painters have been joined by musicians, who perform at fundraising concerts for free.
In September, in a moving demonstration of the solidary of some people in Turkey with their neighbors’ struggles, the famed city of Chalcedon will host a concert of Greek music, a musical mirror image of a March 2015 concert in Thessaloniki featuring the songs of Constantinople.
The endeavor is one example of many efforts by young people to contribute to the construction of a new Greece through philanthropic volunteerism. The entire project, including the New York exhibit, will be the subject of a documentary by Oreste Teazi, the son of singer Xanthippi Karathanasi that they hope will inspire similar initiatives.
Giorgos Manolas, of the artists, is very excited about the project. He brought some striking computer-generated images, remarkable because he was only a musician – a cellist – not a painter until he retired.
Asked to sum up the event, the gallery owner Tucker Robbins told TNH “Compassion and beauty and the story and heart and soul of Greece, from the icons to very contemporary design – world class art at a reasonable price.”
He is a furniture designer who was brought to Greece by his grandmother and he was put in touch with the group by the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, whose summer programs he attended.