2008 Press by Joan Baum

 

Artist and Celebrity Birdhouse Auction To Benefit South Fork Breast Health Coalition
By Joan Baum

Southampton – Now in its fourth year, the South Fork Breast Health Coalition (SFBHC) once again has joined forces with local area artists and Hamptons celebs to mount what SFBHC co-founder and president Susan Barry Roden hopes will be the organization’s best year yet. And to judge from this year’s entries, her wish should be amply realized.

The brainchild of Hamptons mixed media artist and breast cancer survivor Karyn Mannix, the Birdhouse Auction this year, both live (got to be at the Southampton Cultural Center on the 27th to bid) and silent (can preview at Peter Marcelle’s Hampton Road Gallery), boasts “more outlandish” designs, not to mention punny titles (Dan Rizzie’s “Tacky House” is made with you know what while Maxine Liao’s ceramic “A Perch of One’s Own” pays homage to you know who). Nothing here is really for the birds.

Firsts this year include improved social services and a wider draw of participants, among them some famous names – dress designer Betsey Johnson, comedienne Angela LaGreca (on the Honorary Committee with Rizzie), Joy Behar of “The View,” singer Patti LaBelle, and artist Robert Wilson. On the medical front, the Coalition is proud of its new “bosom buddy” program designed with seniors and Latinas in mind. And, of course, Southampton Hospital finally has a breast surgeon on staff.

Also new this year is a raffle for two handmade birdhouses (tickets are $5 each) and dedications. The Fourth Annual event has been given over to the memory of Frances Barry Roden, Susan’s mother, who passed away this spring. In her honor, Southampton liquor storeowner John Rist contributed his own untitled large painted wood-slat entry, and William Jason Colledge created “The Shed,”, as a surprise for his mom. “There’s a lot of heart and soul” that goes into this exhibit, says Roden, with a catch in her voice, followed by a twinkle in her eye when she starts ticking off some of the wonderfully outrageous entries.

Note family and group participants – among them David Geiser, Mercedes Ruehl and Jake Ruehl’s hole-in-one box, an imaginative take on Geiser’s yellow and black abstract cubes; John and Linda Capello’s “Birdhouse Gothic” (just in time for Halloween); and a home-run entry from Long Island’s own baseball Ducks. Actress Renee Zellweger is back for the third time as honorary chair.

The Birdhouse Auction, limited to 75 entries, has become so competitive, says Roden that artists are now signing up for 2009. Several of the 21 Live Auction pieces perch near the Hampton Gallery window; others sit on a table in the rear, while attractive sidewall tables with pink pens on pink-ribbon clipboards show off Silent Auction goodies.

Among the Live Auction pieces Craig Banks’ colorful and cleverly allusive “Peep Show” will undoubtedly draw oohs and ahs, and Don Saco’s welded steel “A Bird in the Hand” will strike viewers as just right with its single wispy pink feather atop a black bird (a touch suggested by his niece, the artist proffers). And how seasonal and generous of Southampton BMW Manager Jon Miller to have gone batty and donated signed cards for his baseball “House.”

Signature work is obviously on display in Monica Banks’ copper-wire bird nest, “Hub,” Stephanie Brody Lederman’s must-see witty “Two-Story Duplex For Cold Cash,” and newcomer Ric Stott’s howler, “Post Modern With Jacuzzi & Guest Parking.” Jeff Muhs intrigues with an untitled futuristic-looking silver and white sculpture, James DeMartis delights with an elegantly curved vine over house “Bird Watching” (one is, in gold), and Bill Durham is in top form with his amusing “Dancer on a Hot Tin Roof.” You can see through Sandsy Heppenheimer’s “See Through House,” in ribbon and acrylic resin core, and you don’t have to duck for Eric Ernst’s colorful Mondrian-like house hanging in the middle of the room.

The Silent Auction offerings are as impressive, among them Arlene Bujese’s house in white (what else), Mannix’s homage to Warhol in pink, Sara Nightingale’s “More or Less” with candle and bird, Bruce Turnball’s Buckminster Fuller-ish “1 Bedroom, Cedar Contemporary,” and Setha Low’s sly “British Colonial Birdhouse.” Swarovski crystals dot Jill Lynn’s Birdhouse, “Free Eats” and kernels Ruby Jackson’s. Christine Clark’s ukulele makes a plea to “Make Music Not War.”

Several houses sit on inverted flower pots, and Kate Smith can be heard belting out “God Bless America” when viewers take up Aura Levitas’s suggestion to press a button on her red, white and blue, flagged studded “God Bless Birds.” So much more, so little space to acknowledge. Hector, Abby, et al. we love you.

The Coalition, a non-profit, grassroots organization, that most people hear about through “word of mouth,” has as its main mission “raising awareness” of about the importance of breast exams and mammograms, for men as well as women. It is also committed to helping relieve day-to-day pressures for patients diagnosed with, and undergoing treatment for, breast cancer and support for their families by way of integrated services. Its purview extends from Manorville to Montauk, including Shelter Island. The auction couldn’t be timelier as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Birdhouse Auction will take place on Sept. 27, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Southampton Cultural Center, 25 Pond Lane. The Preview is at Hampton Road Gallery, 36 Hampton Road. For information call 631-726-8606. Phone bids accepted.
For more information go to www.southforkbreast.org

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