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A limited-edition print of the Dec. 7, 2022, cover of TIME magazine signed by the artist is one of the many lots in an art auction to benefit relief in Ukraine. Photo submitted

Art auction, fundraiser for Ukraine relief

MILLERTON —  At the start of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, Cellmark Inc. executive Andre Wlodar and his wife, Kim Schmidt-Wlodar, an art dealer, knew they wanted to do something locally to help, and they did, raising $500,000 in aid for Ukrainian refugees and orphans.

Now they’re ready to mark the one-year anniversary of the war with another fundraising event.

“It started as a grassroots effort,” said Wlodar, who splits his time between New York City and Millerton. “The first week of the war, I was just walking from one business to another knocking on doors.”

Their efforts at the time spawned an art auction and event in March, which raised $85,000 from the art alone and a total of $125,000 at the event.

“Neither of us had ever done any fundraising before,” said Schmidt-Wlodar.

“This all goes for helping children and orphans deal with the trauma of war,” said Wlodar. “We created safe houses for mothers and displaced kids. We’ve done workshops for schools, and for the teachers and caregivers [about] how to spot the trauma and how to treat it. We’ve provided over 600 tourniquets for the front lines. We’re really trying to concentrate on helping the kids.” Wlodar’s United For Ukraine organization has been working with Razom, a 501(c)(3) out of New York City, as well as the Wayair Foundation in his native Poland to deliver money and supplies.

To mark one year since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Wlodars are holding a second art auction with bids being made and accepted online beginning on or around Friday, Feb. 10, and an event to be held Sunday, Feb. 26, from noon to 3 p.m. at Troutbeck in Amenia.

“The idea for this exhibition was born when I was visiting Ukraine,” said Wlodar. “I went to Kyiv end of September, I went to the gallery [Portal 11] and we basically discussed the whole idea of the exhibition.

“Kim and I didn’t want to put the exhibition above the war. We wanted an exhibition that had optimism in it, resilience, perseverance. We’re going to have about 40 works from Ukrainian artists and they’re each a little bit different.”

The online auction will include approximately 80 lots, with works by many local and regional artists such as James Rosenquist, Richard Estes and Sandy Skoglund.

The art will be on view by appointment prior to the auction, and will be moved to Troutbeck on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

“This exhibition will be at Re Institute so people will get out of their comfort zone,” said Wlodar. “It’s going to be cold, unheated, but all of these artists who have donated their time and works, they were painting under current circumstances with no heat, with no electricity sometimes.”

The event at Troutbeck is shaping up nicely. Alice Min Soo Chun, founder and CEO of Solight Design, will speak about delivering her collapsible solar lights to hospitals in Ukraine. A live auction will take place featuring experiences and other big-ticket items conducted by Christie’s auctioneer Rachel Orkin-Ramey.

Included in the live auction will be a small number of limited-edition prints of the artwork featured on the Dec. 7, 2022, cover of TIME magazine, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the spirit of Ukraine as Person of the Year, signed by artist Neil Jamieson.

Local chefs Michel Jean of Champetre in Pine Plains, Robert Arbor of Le Gamin in Sharon, Connecticut, and Matthew Lodes will be providing food with help from Tenmile Distillery and Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. Ukrainian friends of the Wlodars will be making two types of borscht, with meat provided by Herondale Farm.

Bard College grad student Terenia Kuzma will perform live music on Ukrainian bandura.

Tickets for the Feb. 26 fundraiser are $125 each. “If somebody could not afford a donation to Ukraine, we are inviting them to volunteer with us,” said Wlodar. “We welcome everyone. Children can come free. We’re not going only after money; it’s a community-building event.”

To see the preparations that are being made for the upcoming Troutbeck event as well as photos of previous events and Wlodar’s trips to Ukraine and Poland, go to kimschmidtfineart.com/fundraiser-for-ukraine. A link to the online auction when it goes live will be posted there as well. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/art-auction-and-fundraiser-for-ukraine-tickets-526820001807.

To make an appointment to see the art exhibition at Re Institute or to inquire about volunteering at the fundraising event, call 786-282-2495.

This article has been updated to correct chef Matthew Lodes' name.

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