Last weekend was the annual art auction to benefit the charity Maria's Children. Patch Adams, the renowned American doctor, returned once again with a group of his volunteers to lead the evening. (Remember the film about him in which he was portrayed by Robin Williams?)
Here you can see Maria and Patch while they auctioned off the masterpiece of the night, a GORGEOUS collaborative mural of Moscow that went for $25,000! The gracious owner of the Katerina Hotel hosted the event and purchased the mural for the lobby.
This isn't just any fundraiser, and these aren't just any people... You can read what I wrote about last year's auction and all of the wonderful people involved here.
First of all, notice how one is properly dressed for this event... Not exactly black tie! My girls, of course, were only too happy to get into the spirit of the evening! (In true form, Katya brought a bag of costumes and kept modifying her look throughout the night... That hat, however, was MY costume. Gotta love that hat!) Clown clothing is available to all who would like to dress up in the cloakroom.
That dress Katya has on (inside out)? My costume from when I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz in our ninth grade school play... When you sewed it, Mom, you certainly never imagined it being worn in Moscow!
Older children helped by Maria's organization did a wonderful job of greeting all the guests and of watching the kids while the adults attended the auction.
Various friends of ours joined us this year and the children had a great time getting their faces painted, playing games and admiring the art. Natalia was very happy to see Heda, a Chechen refugee who had befriended us at last year's auction. At the end of the night, Katya asked Heda to keep our Gymboree pastel fairy wings that she had lent her.
The most special part of the evening was when Patch literally auctioned off his pants... He asked $5,000 to cover all of the internal transportation costs for his volunteers while they were in Russia. Any extra money, he said, would go towards rebuilding Heda and her brother Aslan's home in Chechnya. Their parents are still living in a refugee camp and these teens have been separated from their mom and dad since being brought to Moscow by Maria's Children.
Heda and Aslan so enchanted Patch's volunteers last year that they all personally pledged money towards rebuilding their home -- but it hadn't been enough. Patch so wanted to help Heda and Aslan that he joked, "Heck, I'd sell ALL the clothing I'm wearing for $20,000!"
A very kind donor then stunned us all by donating $21,000 -- for Patch to keep the remaining clothing ON! I jumped out of my chair and ran to tell Heda, since she wasn't in the room and was still with the smaller children... She and the other teens started dancing around, jumping up and down and hugging... It was INCREDIBLE! Katya and Natalia were really moved, too.
Heda, Katya and Natalia then joined me upstairs for the rest of auction. My two just sat there, taking it all in. I think they really got a lot out of it. That's what I love about the evening and Maria's organization; it gives them a meaningful way to learn about others who are less fortunate, and to actually help, in a way that isn't emotionally scarring. Katya wants to start painting at the studio with the kids. When we eventually have her birthday party (belatedly, I know, this winter), she wants to request that any presents will go to the orphans.
As the auction winded down, Natalia did keep shaking her head in bewilderment: "He's up there in his UNDERWEAR!" She didn't know WHAT to make of Patch! At least this year, unlike last year, she didn't tell him that he's simply NOT FUNNY...
When Heda and Aslan join us for Thanksgiving this year, we'll all have a great deal to be thankful for...
I'd like to now share some of the artwork that was available for purchase before the auction started.
Katya and Natalia each helped me pick out Christmas presents (calendars and magnets) for our family in America and they admired all of the ceramics. (We went home with a pretty little cat and "Aladdin's lamp"). There were also many paintings for sale at reasonable prices.
Here are some of my favorite pieces from the auction:
A detail from the mural at the beginning of the post. You can make out Luzhniki, the Olympic Sports area, and MGU, Moscow State University.
This calendar sold for $5,000 and was exquisite. There are twelve appliqued scenes that you can alternate as you choose, and the numbers are attached by buttons. The numbers are reversible: blue and red, so you can highlight your own holidays. Making this calendar was very therapeutic to orphans with sensory difficulties; since they can't "feel" paint on the paper, sewing allowed them to be much more expressive.
"The World through the Eyes of an Artist." This collaborative piece of art was done by orphans with special needs from Orphanage Number 14 at another studio in St. Petersburg. (Perhaps your students could do something with them, Kate!)
This mural, "Pegasus above Moscow," has a neat story behind it... It was made when the American actress Lucy Liu visited the studio through UNICEF. They hadn't expected her to stay for more than fifteen minutes, but she was there for over four hours, mesmerized by the kids and the collaborative process. She drew and painted the church buildings underneath the flying red horse, and the dogs in front of those buildings are her actual pooches! While the mural was being auctioned, they showed us pictures of Liu's visit; I particularly loved the shots of her posing with the orphans as Charlie's Angels!
This exquisite photo album was made from scratch by Aslan. It is a masterpiece. He is so creative; he invented secret compartments in both the cover of the album and hidden on the inside of the back cover. He has enjoyed this new craft so much that he's now teaching the other children how to make books. I was thrilled that someone paid $5,000 for it.
Before I wrap this up, I'd also like to share this picture of Patch in the Moscow metro that was on sale before the auction... Isn't it great?! I love the usually dour Muscovites' reactions to his attire! He has been arrested while volunteering here, but he and his group were such a loud nuisance in the jail that the police let them go!
If you'd like to get involved in helping Maria and all the children her organization reaches, visit their website. They're always looking for donations, volunteers to come spend time with the kids at the art studio, used children's clothing in good condition, art supplies, etc. You don't need to be an artist to get involved!
You can also purchase Christmas/New Year's cards drawn by the children or a 2009 calendar featuring the children's work. If any of you US readers would like a calendar, I could bring it back for you and mail it to you for $17. They also have great magnets for around $4.