Artists collaborate to benefit Red Cross

Courtesy photo Santee artist Laurie Fuller is one of the artists working is “Solidarity” to benefit the Red Cross and Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion of their country

Artists from across the county are uniting in support with an art show that will raise money directly donated to the Red Cross to help the people of Ukraine as they fight against the Russian invasion. Artists, in conjunction with Ashton Art, at Art on 30th will be holding its fundraiser with its “Solidarity” charity event on April 23 from 4-8 p.m. The gallery’s professional artists will donate 100% of their proceeds, while additional artists juried at the show will donate a minimum of 30%.
Art on 30th owner Kate Ashton said Art on 30th is an art center with classes, workshops, 16 private studios, and the people there have become a community. She said it is also the only place in town that offers a six-month mentorship program to help artists grow and create a body of work that they can take to market. She said every four to five weeks, they do a call for artists from around the county, giving local artists the opportunity to be part of a juried show.
Ashton said this is what is happening with the “Solidarity” showing in support of Ukraine. She said there will be many pieces on the wall, both large and small pieces, and in the center of the gallery, a table with 5×5 inch and 6×6 inch for sale at a suggested donation of $45. They expect to have more than 200 small pieces for sale, so that many people can participate in generating donations.
“I am asking all of our artists to donate 100% of their earnings from this show and the gallery will match that,” she said. “We are expecting a huge crowd.”
Ashton said the show came about when she was on the phone with a friend who was talking about all the sunflowers popping up on social media, the national flower of Ukraine, and asked why we were not having a show on sunflowers.
“What if we had a show blue and yellow, and let people paint whatever they are called to paint, and let’s make it a benefit,” she said. “If we can send some money over to the Ukrainian people, and with sending that money, we are sending love, letting them know many people in the world care a great deal about them.”
Ashton said she is not participating in the juried part of the show but is working on pieces that can be sold. She said there a couple of people in their community from Poland and Russia. She said the woman from Russia has a sister in Ukraine, so she said there are people there that are personally invested in what is happening now in Ukraine.
“As we are working together on this, we are often teary eyed,” she said. “It is emotional for all of us as we are working on these pieces. The entire community has felt a bit helpless, and we wanted to do something. We are not particularly wealthy, so I said let us all do our part, so we are extremely emotionally invested in this show. It is horrible to watch, and it is horrible to feel helpless.”
Artist and instructor Michele Joyce of Ashton Gallery, located at Art on 30th said it has more than 100 students taking classes with any kind of art that they want to explore available for study. She said the artwork submitted for the show will be juried a week before the show to pick the art that will be exhibited.
Santee artist Laurie Fuller worked for years as an illustrator and graphic designer and found Ashton Gallery when she retired in 2018. She is primarily an acrylic painter and moved to abstract, a contrast from her graphic design career. But missing creating realistic pieces, she moved back to realism painting, with a current show going on with her wildlife paintings.
“For the show right now, I am working on a couple of sunflower paintings,” she said. “I am incorporating bright yellows and blues. I want to convey a message of hope. We need hope right now.”
Fuller said she has until April 15, so she will continue with the sunflowers, but she is open to anything else that inspires her for this show.
“Being an artist is a gift and I feel like I need to give something back,” she said. “It is nice to contribute something to the world, but how can I make a difference? If we all just do a little bit of something, it can make such a big difference.”
Fuller said she tries to put herself in the shoes of Ukrainians right now, but just cannot imagine what it is like to leave your home, your country and everything that you know.
“I feel it is kind of cathartic to know what you are working on might provide just a few dollars,” she said. “I feel like I am doing something and not just sitting watching the news. Working on art always puts me in a peaceful place and it is the one time that I am quiet. Working on the pieces for Ukraine it feels like I am doing something that might help.”
Blossom Valley artist Lori Hinton is trained in watercolors but is now working on abstract painting with acrylic. She said as a group of artists, they talked about what is happening in Ukraine and it was heartbreaking, and collectively decided to do something. She said for this show she is doing a series of pieces of sailboats.
“I find painting sometimes stressful because you are trying to do a certain thing,’ she said. “But working on this, it is like the world stopped and I felt this calmness and peacefulness because if felt like I was doing something that might make a difference.”
Hinton said in creating paintings she feels like she is making a difference but hopes that people that buy the paintings feel the same way, in that they are making a difference by purchasing the art pieces.
“I think when we do something or volunteer in some way, there is a healing that occurs,” she said. “I think it is also a spiritual thing.”
Chula Vista artist Chris Fontaine said he is a self-taught, half-academic taught abstract expressionist primarily and has worked with video game design, stencil making, and graffiti.
“I was inspired to donate some pieces to the fundraiser for Ukraine,” he said. “I am just trying to do what I can to help. I do not try to understand the world outside of art too much, but when you see death and suffering and how it effects people there and all over the world, all these people coming together is sort of a heart moment in a world that I respect when I see people all coming together towards something.”
Fontaine said this is a “fantastic” learning experience to be part of this fundraiser.
“To bring money and raise awareness to help the people over there is an honor and a privilege to be able to do. I am thankful to be able to do the tiniest part to help someone halfway across the world and bring awareness to love, peace, and understanding at home and abroad,” he said.
For more information about the call for artist for this exhibition, visit