About 40 local artists met at C3 Lab in South End today to learn about potentially submitting work to Art With Heart, the yearly art auction that over the last 19 years has raised $1.8 million for Safe Alliance, a local organization that supports survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
This year’s auction and juried art competition will be held on Feb. 23 at the Elder Gallery. Artists have until Feb. 8 to apply to donate art online. They can do so through the Safe Alliance website.
For Carol Shinn, director of community engagement with Safe Alliance, Art With Heart has special meaning compared to the multiple other well-known events, such as Walk a Mile In Her Shoes, that Safe Alliance holds throughout the year.
“To me, this particular event is the most personal event we do because we are asking people to turn themselves inside out with art,” Shinn said on Tuesday.
This year’s event comes at a precarious time for Safe Alliance, which houses 119 women and children in its domestic violence shelter at any given time among other services. According to Shinn, about $1.9 million in grant money for the organization is currently being withheld due to the government shutdown. Although she admitted that the organization has plenty of savings, the future remains unsure.
“Everything really matters to us right now,” Shinn said. “We have no idea how long this will last so we’re preparing for the future.”
Local artists Bree Stallings and Elizabeth Palmisano addressed the group on Tuesday, offering tips on donating art and how to improve their chances at being accepted into the competition.
While artists aren’t paid for their entries into the auction, the event is an opportunity to present work to gallery owners, art collectors and countless others who make it a point to attend one of the city’s longest-lasting art auctions.
Stallings, who estimated that she’s asked to donate art to one cause or another about 10 times a month, said she has to carefully pick and choose spots in which she works for free while keeping a viable art career.
She decided to work with Art With Heart this year, not only as an artist but as a member on the planning committee, because of the support she’s been shown by fellow committee member Ally Frazier and the dedication of the team to put artists at the focal point of this year’s event.
“Everybody needs their 10 community advocates, and those people don’t have to be artists themselves but people that we can trust that will put our names out into boardrooms and other spaces that we might not otherwise be brought up in,” Stallings said after Tuesday’s workshop wrapped up. “Those people matter so much to our career, so for [Frazier] to advocate on behalf of me in these spaces makes me want to do the same back and help with Art with Heart. Those relationships are exponentially important.”
For Palmisano, the connection to Safe Alliance is more personal. She said that she received counseling from the organization about eight years ago when she was battling the effects of sexual trauma she survived as a child.
Palmisano donated her work to Art With Heart for the first time last year, and called her experience with helping to raise $90,000 for Safe Alliance “amazing.”
“It felt really good to be like, I’m a part of raising $90,000 to help other women and children and men,” Palmisano said. “It felt very inclusive, which was nice. I felt really comfortable there.”
She also said she felt lifted up by the team behind Art With Heart, and the experience of being at the event.
“The event itself being artist-centric, even being thoughtful enough to have a minimum bid and maintain the integrity of the work as far as market value goes,” she said. “Then inviting us to be at the event. It’s a swanky affair. I haven’t been out in the community as long as Bree. For an emerging artist, I felt like Van Gogh. I thought, ‘I could get used to this.’ I felt supported and celebrated. It was such a blast, I can’t wait for this year.”