Art World Helps Its Own

Art World Helps Its Own

In September 2007, Miami artist and curator Carolina Salazar learned that her nine-month-old son Adan had a rare childhood cancer of the sympathetic nervous system known as neuroblastoma. She sought specialized treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and was soon working with Band of Parents, a nonprofit organization that supports the hospital’s research of the illness, which affects about 650 babies a year.

Her latest endeavor is the organization of “Love Cures,” a February 5 auction that Salazar hopes will raise vital funds to advance neuroblastoma research.

“I wanted to do a fundraiser, and working in the arts, I immediately thought of an auction,” she says.

To get started, Salazar, who coordinates exhibitions at the Miami International Airport and has shown her paintings around the greater Miami area during the last 10 years, drew on her connections in the art world for support and star power. She solicited donations from two dozen artists who have worked in South Florida, including a handful represented by the Dorsch Gallery, a Wynwood Art District pioneer where Salazar has also shown her work.

A personal contact led her to Yoko Ono, who gave a 2004 white canvas overlaid with Plexiglas stamped with the fitting message “I Love You” ($1,100 minimum bid).

Word of Ono’s involvement helped grease the wheels for more contributions: Miami-based Pablo Cano, who sculpts marionettes from found objects, submitted a 2005 preparatory sketch for his stage production Toy Box ($400 minimum bid). Salazar’s fellow School of Visual Arts alumnus William Wegman sent one of his trademark Weimaraner portraits, Nature Wear from 2005. The photograph, from an edition of 50, is available for a minimum bid of $500.

The nonprofit ArtCenter/South Florida, where Salazar was a curator for several years earlier in this decade, offered to have a pre-sale exhibition in its South Beach gallery. “Love Cures” will be displayed there through February 1, when the works will move to the Miami Art Space, a larger venue in the Wynwood Art District, in advance of the February 5 auction.

Another former employer and patron, Miami collector Martin Z. Margulies, donated Jeffrey Jenkinss 1989 piece History ($300 minimum bid), a hanging wooden box packed with sod bisected by red string, as well as a moody untitled 1994 Ektacolor print by Fabrizio Ceccardi ($150 minimum bid). “I thought these would be popular and hopefully raise some money for a worthy cause,” says Margulies, who works with a lot of charities. “In these times, expensive art is difficult for most people.”

Most of the 41 items on offer are modestly sized works on paper, many addressing themes of love and childhood. To encourage bidding, some of the minimums are set at $100, though the majority start at $200–350. Higher-priced items have starting bids of $700–800. Any works that don’t sell will be auctioned on eBay.

Though the sale is just a few weeks away, the auction docket is still in flux as Salazar, ever the enthusiast, continues to collect new lots. The successful January 9 opening reception at the ArtCenter inspired more local artists — including Gavin Perry, Rakel Bernie, and Peter Lik — to step up and donate an additional half-dozen works.

In total, Salazar hopes to raise $50,000 through auction sales and admission fees ($20 for advance tickets or $25 at the auction) as well as cash donations, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Band of Parents’ fund to advance neuroblastoma research. Salazar already has reason to celebrate — it was discovered that her son, now 2, had a less aggressive form of the potentially fatal disease and his latest tests have shown no signs of it at all.