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VZ by Beth Rundquist Photo courtesy of Kim Schmidt Fine Art

$100k Raised at Art Auction To Aid in Ukraine Relief


‘Ukrainians’ courage, ingenuity, and perseverance have changed and inspired the whole world,” said Cellmark Inc. Executive Andre Wlodar in a speech to welcome the crowd of nearly 200 guests to Troutbeck on Sunday, Feb. 26, for a fundraising event to mark the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine. The event raised approximately $100,000 toward relief for Ukraine.

“It’s one year that this unthinkable thing happened,” he said. “We thought, ‘Russia is going to overpower Ukraine,’ and guess what? A miracle happened, and that was the miracle of Ukraine.”

Wlodar and his wife, art dealer Kim Schmidt-Wlodar, launched an online art auction in early February to raise money for Ukrainian relief that culminated in the gathering at Troutbeck.

Art by both Ukrainian and local artists had been on display at The Re Institute in Millerton, N.Y., for two weeks prior and was moved to Troutbeck for viewing during the fundraiser.

Guest speaker Alice Chun, founder and CEO of Solight Design, discussed her journey to Ukraine to deliver her collapsible solar lanterns to children’s hospitals there.

Chun has taken her lights to other wartorn and impacted areas, and gave a heartfelt account of her experiences.

“Every time I go to one of these red zones,” said Chun, “I go to prove that there are always two sides to a story. When you breach the limits of prejudice and fear, it’s always about going beyond that fear and self-pity into a place of enduring acceptance.

“It struck me that we wouldn’t blame these kids if they were hateful, but they didn’t have any hate. They were so gracious and kind and hopeful for a future of light… I couldn’t believe the amount of love and hope that was coming from these kids and the grace of their hearts.”

Ukraine native Julia O’Connell coordinates fundraising events for the nonprofit Razom — which, along with the Wayair Foundation, has been working with the Wlodars provide relief for Ukraine — and also spoke, discussing how her organization delivers medical supplies to Ukraine.

A live auction conducted by Rachel Orkin-Ramey of Christie’s featured unique packages including a home consulting experience with Hammertown owner and founder Joan Osofsky; dinner for six prepared by local resident and chef Matthew Lodes; and a photo shoot with Edward Acker Photography of Lenox, Mass.

A number of local eateries and purveyors including Champetre in Pine Plains, N.Y., Le Gamin in Sharon, Conn., Four Brothers, and Guido’s Fresh Marketplace in Great Barrington, Mass., were represented, providing traditional Ukrainian foods and other offerings for guests.

Bard College graduate student Teryn Kuzma entertained the crowd by singing traditional songs and accompanying herself on Ukrainian bandura.

“They are so strong,” said Wlodar of the people of Ukraine. “They’re fighting also for our freedom, not only for their freedom. On this first anniversary of the war, I just wanted to say, let’s stand with Ukraine and its people. We are in deep gratitude for what they’re doing.”

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