Live Event Painting the CHSC Benefit and A Corporate Paint Party for NY Life Insurance
Weddings aren’t the only events worthy of inspiring a painting! Private parties, corporate functions, fundraising galas - Whatever you’re celebrating, having a live painter on site is a unique way to entertain guests and add to the festivities. Plus, you end up with a one-of-a-kind work of art capturing the memory of the special day!
It’s always exciting for me, as a live event painter, to work with and learn about different organizations in our area. A favorite from last year, Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center (CHSC) is one nonprofit I’m so happy to have been introduced to. Last Fall (2017), I was hired to create a live painting during their annual fundraising benefit that took place at the newly renovated TENK, on the West bank of the flats. Besides being the first re-envisioned annual benefit for CHSC, it was also the first ever event at TENK, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to capture it all in a painting.
What exactly is CHSC? As summarized in their mission statement, CHSC is “the premier provider of hearing, speech-language and deaf services, education and advocacy, helping people connect through communication.” The organization was founded in 1921 by Helen Newell Garfield (daughter-in-law of President James Garfield) who suffered hearing loss herself at a young age. Helping individuals with communication issues for nearly a century, it is the oldest hearing and speech center in the country.
Until my experience working with CHSC, I never really thought about how hearing and/or speech impairment could affect a person’s life. We all know how frustrating it is when you can’t get your thoughts across clearly…. when you feel misunderstood, or like no one is hearing you. Imagine how much MORE frustrating that would be, all the time, if you couldn’t hear or speak. CHSC is great because they provide all kinds of wonderful resources and programs for those affected by hearing and speech communication challenges, as well as help to their families. They provide these services to the entire community, regardless of a person’s ability to pay. If you’re curious to learn more, check out their website here.
In order to generate funds to provide so many great support services to the community, CHSC relies heavily on fundraising throughout the year. The theme of the benefit I was hired to paint was “Communication is Key” and it was a huge success, thanks to a team of dedicated individuals behind the scenes. Special shoutout to Sara Thomas (Director of Development, CHSC) Audrey Bucholtz (Development Coordinator, CHSC), Jennell Vick (Executive Director, CHSC), Gail Palmer and Joelle Scalzo from Palmer Event Solutions, Marigold Catering, the staff at TENK and so many others who all contributed to the success of the evening. Believe me, as a third party witnessing the planning, preparation and execution of events like this, it definitely takes a village!
In the foreground of the painting, you’ll see a musician named Scott Palasik, who I was lucky to be set up right next to during cocktail hour. Later in the program, it was a surprise to everyone that he was also the keynote speaker, who shared a bit about his struggles living with a stutter. (Interesting Fact: People who stutter do not stutter when they sing!) Scott’s story was so touching, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a few tears during his presentation. If you’re curious to hear for yourself, Scott was featured in the independent film “When I Stutter” directed by John Gomez and it’s definitely worth a watch.
As is often the case with fundraising events, I was under more pressure than usual because I needed to have the painting stage ready for the live auction towards the end of the night. Add to the mix, I organized a separate interactive painting activity happening during this same event, in conjunction with a second live auction package, that featured a corporate team building activity of a similar nature. Attending guests painted several small canvases with a pre-drawn design, without knowing what it was. At the end of the night, the canvases were assembled and presented on stage to reveal they came together to create the CHSC logo. Thanks to Chris and Bear, my artist assistants who made sure that all went so smoothly! (pictures of the live auction below.) So there was a lot going on! But all went well and I’m happy to say both the live painting and the corporate team building package sold for a hefty sum, contributing to a record-breaking year of proceeds for CHSC.
As for the corporate team building activity, the package was generously bid on by Brian Novak, managing partner of NY Life Insurance in Independence, OH. The package consisted of a custom designed, artist lead activity for the winning bidder’s team, resulting in gallery quality artwork to hang in their workplace. We first had a consultation earlier this year, and after learning about NY Life’s company culture and seeing their new office space, I designed a cluster of paintings for one of their large walls. I returned with the custom designed canvases drawn out and ready to be filled in like a giant paint by number. With the help of my awesome artist assistants Bert and Michelle, we led a corporate team building activity where NY life employees painted in the base layer of the artwork together. After the “paint party” I took the paintings home with me and finished them up in my studio, so the end product was gallery quality and wall ready. Below are some photos from the activity and the completed paintings:
If this interests you, the idea for this corporate team building package was inspired by another project I organized. Click here to read about it.