2007 Art For The Cure Article


Though Renee Zellweger Honorary Chair of the 3rd Annual Birdhouse Auction to benefit the South Fork Breast Health Coalition was unable to attend at the last moment, the real stars of the evening, the cancer survivors, their caregivers, and the artists, were out in full force and the evening sparkled as brightly as a Hollywood premiere.

The Southampton Cultural Center’s galleries were awash in the whimsical, fantastical, and sometimes downright outrageously funny birdhouse deigns by some of the East End’s most prominent artists and celebrity personalities. Event Co-Chairs Karyn Mannix and Karen Saco along with Board members Susan Roden, Cindy Grant, Susan Barylski, Bernadette Meade, Martha Rogers, and dozens of helpers helped deliver an assortment of aviary aeries for even the most discerning Hampton starling. The perfect birdie beach house may have been the sea shell encrusted house or the sky high Mondrian-esque creation or the Preston Phillips see through Plexi-glass home for a Frank Lloyd Wright fan. Builder and real estate mogul Donald Trump, true to form, simply signed a barely varnished birdhouse.

More traditional and certainly a Hamptons classic was Jay Schneiderman’s hand crafted – by the legislator himself – windmill bird house! Fashioned after the windmill in Water Mill each piece was hand cut from actual shingles. Jay joked that his hands no longer had splinters and that his kids helped by cheering him on from the distance of other rooms in their home. The project took all summer and he enjoyed every moment. He demonstrated that the windmill worked and that the shingles were to scale and not stained so they could weather alongside any Hampton’s manse.

Also a big hit was artist Hector de Cordova’s homage to the film “Tootsie”, an almost life size Dustin Hoffman as Tootsie complete with the perfect birdie perch – big hoop earrings!

For the Frederick’s of Hollywood daring birdie there was literally a feathered nest trimmed in bright red ostrich feathers. The recycler would have loved Michael Lownie’s house constructed of salvaged pieces of wood from homes on the North Fork, Southampton and Massachusetts with a vintage New York City cop’s night stick as a chimney or Renee Zellweger’s masterpiece entitled “You Pick Up My Pieces (aka Home is Where the Part Is)” a Rube Goldberg style creation of watch and bicycle parts!

Some pieces were pure Americana with stars and stripes and names of sports heroes. Olympic gold medalist and breast cancer survivor Peggy Flemming crafted a “House of Hope” as a tribute to early detection. Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin’s piece, “Fly High” practically sang “Amazing Grace” as it was festooned with miniature records and music sheets. Survivor and fashion designing dynamo Betsey Johnson’s rosebud covered birdhouse had the crown oohing and asahing while Joh Miller’s “Hall of Famer” piece, complete with a prized Hall of Fame baseball signed by Yogi Berra and scores more, had the auction paddles flying.

It was heartening to see so many mothers, many breast cancer survivors, with their daughters manning the tables and fielding questions about each of the artworks. Also rare to see were so many of the current candidates running for office this year joined together in a common cause against a vicious disease that knows no political, racial, or economic divide.

Scoping the table displays, we spied candidates Anna Throne Holst, Nancy Graboski and Linda Kabot, artists Eric Ernst, Ellen Dooley, Alex Vignoli, Don Saco, Tom Steele, Kimberly McSparran, Sara Nightingale, Arlene Bujese, Jasmine Felt, David Gamble, David Slater, and SFBHC supporters such as Frankie de la Barre and Angela LaGreca. Artist Dan Rizzie, who created the painting for the event’s poster, was busy signing and selling copies for the Coalition. It was a memorable evening made so by our most talented and generous neighbors who were on hand to remind every person fighting breast cancer, “You are not alone”.

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