Sasha Alexandre Kouznetsov
"Ballad of New Orleans" (detail), 2005
oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches
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How did this happen in New York?
Stephanie Simon, a reporter who covers art and culture, saw that Wynton Marsalis had organized a concert to benefit the victims of Katrina. Simon realized that she could use her art world contacts to help and emailed her friends to express her idea: Bring the artwork to New York to benefit "the rebuilding of the City of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast artists involved," Daily News Stanley Crouch penned post event. Simon’s quest would produce a 50% reward of the auction value of each piece donated by a flood effected artist. Consequently thirty five artists from the region donated works. Her employer NY1 and the New York Foundation for the Arts signed on as primary supporters.
The February 28th Gala followed a preview week exhibit in the entrance hall of the World Financial Center Winter Garden with music by the multi-talented educator, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon plus Jesse McBride-piano, Alen Hampton-string bass, James Westfall-vibes and Matthew Frickie-electric guitar. The absence of a New Orleans drummer although unusual actually allowed the Mardi Gras Gala dinner attendees the opportunity to converse under the Palms while enjoying the jazz quietly amplified by WFC Allan Abrams-technical director. By singing Louis Armstrong’s "Sunny Side of the Street" Mr. Gordon set the tone for an evening of swinging jazz.
Highlighted by Jazz at Lincoln Center’s donation of a chance to receive a Wynton Marsalis trumpet lesson, a trumpet and two tix to a spring performance became one of the hotly contested items during the Live Auction stylishly called by Adam Marcus. BLUE NOTE Records offered twenty classic and 20 contemporary recordings, jazz vocalist Tony Bennett a giclee print titled "Gondola, Venice" and Danny Simmons-creator of HBO’s Def Poetry, "Voodoo. . .Spell to Rebuild New Orleans" were outstanding additions.
"Moss Dreams Deep", 2003
36 x 36
Melissa Bonin from New Iberia, one of a number of artists who came to NYC and brought an oil "Moss Dreams Deep" just to participate, made my mouth water telling me about the home of Tabasco sauce-New Iberia. She described putting the hot stuff on eggs, etouffee and gumbo but her favorite she explained quite seriously was, "spicing up spaghetti and meatballs or mixing tabasco, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice to garnish pasta" (which I found to be fooling with an Italian specialty). Apparently it’s quite the local custom to cover raw oysters with tabasco, cayenne powder, garlic, horseradish and Worcester sauce and wash it down with a local beer!
"Flag: Coca Cola Red and Oreo Blues" 1999
This striking donated art of our flag by Michael Albert caught my eye because it tells a politically contemporary news story in one picture.
Another participant I met dancing after the auction was Web Designer Stephanie Fotiadis who compiled all the art info into an easy to use site. She also has guided the look of innovative educational Web pages, otherwise Stephanie is an avid tennis fan and a New York City restaurant connoisseur who teaches an html seminar in Harlem.
Watching all the volunteers remove and wrap all these various sized artworks at the end of the evening demonstrated how efficiently this benefit event was planned and executed to benefit the true artists from this devastated region.
(C) Dan Kassell
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