by Sue Ann Rybak
Are you tired of standing in long lines to find the “not-so-perfect” holiday gift at Target or Walmart? Don’t know what to get someone who has everything? Trying to find a unique gift that will evoke memories for years to come and will have an impact on those in need?
Northwestern Artists Collective (NAC), a collaborative of painters, sculptors, mixed-media artists, photographers, digital artists and other artisans that live in Northwest Philadelphia, invite you to get in the “Spirit of the Holiday” by giving a gift that not only touches hearts, but changes lives: art.
Now through Jan. 3 at Earth Bread & Brewery, 7138 Germantown Ave., NAC will host its 5th annual benefit exhibit called “Spirit of the Holiday.” Many paintings are priced under $100 and a portion of all sales will be donated to charity. This year’s participating artists include Colleen Brand, George and Jeanne Bustard, Linda Carner, Marie Huard, Colette Katz, Ellen Marcus, Susan Shipley and Julie Rosen.
Jeane Bustard, 69, of Mt. Airy, said of the group’s mission is to make art available and affordable in the community.
“For the holidays, we want people to feel that they can afford to buy a work of art as a gift if they wanted to,” said Bustard, who taught art to children for 30 years. “Often a child will see a piece of artwork that they just love, and parents will purchase it for them. Showing art in the community exposes children to art and helps them develop a love and appreciation for arts.”
Bustard, who joined NAC in 2008, added that she loves “being part of a community of artists who support, inspire and learn from each other.”
Rosen, 48, of Germantown, has decided to donate 50 percent of her sales to Aapne Aap, a non-government organization supporting survivors of sexual slavery in India. She said that after reading “Half The sky” by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl Wudunn a couple of years ago she was inspired to act.
“Their reporting about individuals and NGOs doing amazing and critical work to help survivors of sexual slavery as well as girls at risk for being exploited by it moved me to start a project to support some of these efforts,” said Rosen, a mother of two children. “I’m working on an arts-based project that will raise awareness of this global crisis and help raise funds for some of the NGOs most successfully addressing it.
“I have not yet launched the project, but making and selling some of my own work in the last couple of holiday seasons to benefit selected NGOs connects with the mission and the means. Aapne Aap is the organization I chose this year.”
The other artists decided to donate 10 percent of their sales to Philabundance, the region’s largest food bank and hunger relief organization.
Colleen Brand, 35, of Roxborough, recalled how one local resident saw her work at Infusion in Mt. Airy and set aside money every week so he could afford the piece.
“I love when people connect with a piece,” she said. “As an artist, I am inspired by small moments of daily life and the environment that surrounds me. I believe in having fun while creating art and pushing the boundaries of each painting to create an inviting new world for the viewer to live inside.”