Auction draws art lovers to support Haiti

By Felicia Frazar
The Gazette-Enterprise

Published February 16, 2010

Area art connoisseurs opened their hearts and their wallets to honor a local sculptor and her country.

In the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the country of Haiti — and in honor of local artist Marika Bordes’ Haitian roots — the Seguin Oakwood Art League decided to host an art auction benefit on Saturday at the Silver Center.

Artists from the area and beyond brought in some of their collected pieces or their own works of art to be sold through a live or silent auction, said Jeanne Palmer, Seguin Oakwood Art League president.

“We got donations from artists from San Antonio to Austin and a majority of the donations were from artist in the Seguin Area,” Palmer said. “People were just really outpouring. They just really embraced what we were doing.”

Along with the auctions, donation jars were placed throughout the room to generate more funds for the cause.

“Some people don’t really want to bring something else home, but they want to donate,” she said. “A little less than $500 came from the jars.”

All three forms of collection brought in nearly $10,000 to be distributed to three organizations — American Red Cross, Save The Children and Doctors Without Borders, Palmer said.

“The total funds that we have in our hand is $9,747, with the incoming funds it’s going to be over $9,800. It would not surprise me if we hit that $10,000 by the time all of the funds are in,” she said. “The majority of the funds are going to Red Cross, then Doctors Without Borders and then to Save The Children.”

Purchasers were given the opportunity to choose which charity their donation would benefit, said Dennis Martin.

“We were trying to come up with three organizations that everyone knows about and Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders both have offices in Haiti and I am sure the American Red Cross has one, as well,” he said.

Martha Swanson, artist, said she came out to support the cause and had donated some artwork to be sold.

“I think it’s a good thing,” she said. “We need to take any possible opportunity to help these people.”

Nearly 100 works were donated to the fundraiser. Twenty of them were designated to be sold in the live auction, but a couple of surprises were added — one only moments before the auction and the second in the middle, Palmer said.

“Edmund [Kuempel] gave us a Texas chair from the senate and then we had someone who brought a gift certificate for 10 hours of instruction from Marika and then donated it back,” she said.

Of the pieces auctioned off were two of Bordes’ sculptures and a teaching session with Bordes that brought in about $4,000.

Overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for her homeland, Bordes addressed the audience with a “thank you” note from her sister-in-law and a Haitian Creole song “Mèci Bon Dié.”

“It means, ‘Thank you, Oh Lord.’ I thanked the Lord like the people of my country would do,” she said. “I just wanted to be connected with my people and thank the Lord with everybody.”

Haitians may have never heard of Seguin, Texas, but through the tragedy they are feeling a connection to the area residents, Bordes said.

“Right now a small town they have never heard about — I have been sending them all of the papers for them — has been doing so much and they know that we are with them,” she said. “I think with that fundraiser it would help some smiles to come back on my peoples’ faces, like all of the fundraisers. It’s very neat and very moving of what is going on in this little community.”

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