BOARDMAN – A sunflower-themed art sale today at the Davis Family YMCA will benefit YMCA Ukraine, which operates in 26 Ukrainian cities.
The art sale presents all mediums and realistic, expressionist or abstract pieces.
Proceeds from the fundraiser, called “Sunflowers for Ukraine”, will go to YMCA Ukraine in war-torn cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv and Odessa.
The Davis Family YMCA is located at 45 McClurg Road.
Fundraising is handled by Suzanne Gray, Artistic Director of the Davis Family Y. Although she is well known for her various art exhibits at the YMCA, she has several personal reasons for getting involved in fundraising.
One is that these 26 YMCAs in Ukraine are now trying to help people there, and the local effort is creating a bond to ensure help arrives.
“One hundred percent of the money raised will go to YMCA Ukraine,” Gray said. “Because we are able to work through YMCA International, we know the money will go directly to areas in need.”
A second reason Gray cites for selling art is its strong ties to Ukraine.
“My paternal grandparents emigrated from Ukraine and we still have cousins who live in Kharkiv,” she said. “Also, my boss at the Y adopted a baby from Ukraine about 20 years ago. With many local artists looking for a way to donate, it seemed only logical to have a fundraiser here.
Gray was able to meet his cousin, Boris Zayshlyy, about 20 years ago. She was on a mission trip to several Russian orphanages in Petersburg. When Zayshlyy heard she was coming, he spent 22 hours on a train to Petersburg to meet and surprise her. Since then, he has stayed in touch.
When Russian forces attacked Ukraine, Zayshlyy said he was lucky enough to send his wife and daughter to another cousin in Germany.
Zayshlyy sent Gray photos of the city of Kharkiv, showing some of the devastation. Gray also released a 2021 photo his cousin’s family took of a beautiful field of sunflowers near a lake in Kharkiv. Ukraine is one of the biggest producers/exporters of sunflowers in the world. The photo clearly showed the abundance of sunflowers around Kharkiv.
“He said this area is now littered with casings, debris and craters,” Gray said.
Because sunflowers are the national flower of Ukraine, Gray thought this would be the appropriate subject for a themed art exhibition and sale.
Fundraising kicks off today with an open house from 1-2:30 p.m. Gray said fundraising will continue as long as the artwork continues to arrive. Early last week, Gray had received five dozen pieces of art, with more promised.
“Each piece will have a price,” Gray said. “Some will cost a few dollars, others hundreds depending on size, quality and artist name recognition.”
She said anyone interested in donating to the cause should tag their art with the name, title, medium and suggested price on the back. Artwork can be dropped off at the Davis Y front desk any time after today.
The public is welcome to purchase artwork anytime during regular YMCA hours. Pieces do not need to be framed, but should have wire, sawtooth or command strips on the back.
For more information about the program, email Suzanne Gray at [email protected]
“We are also working with the YWCA to increase outreach,” Gray said.