Wednesday, December 11, 2013
By Avery Yale Kamila firstname.lastname@example.org
Painting for a Purpose founders Jane Ellis and Tina Clark Edwards.
Portland Public Schools Superintendent James Morse Sr. and a predecessor, Tom Edwards.
Each of the one-of-a-kind chairs was hand-painted by local artists, teachers, students and community members as a way to raise money to provide service learning mini-grants to students in the Portland schools. When the bids from both the live and silent auctions were totaled, the organizers were thrilled to learn this first-time event had raised $5,000.
"With the chair auction, we can have a constant funding stream," said Tina Clark Edwards, who founded the organization with Jane Ellis.
The nonprofit organization grew out of Edwards' and Ellis' passion for painting furniture.
"We said, 'Too bad we can't make something of this,' " Ellis recalled.
Then the light bulb went off and Painting for a Purpose was born. Numerous teachers and students took part in making the event a success. In September, I visited Jane Krasnow's fashion marketing class at Portland Arts & Technology High School to give the students a few pointers on how to promote the event. The teenagers went on to create the poster for the fundraiser, and Krasnow was at the party checking in guests as they arrived.
Portland High art teacher Tory Tyler-Millar and 12 of her students created chairs for the party.
"It's wonderful because the money is going back to support students," Tyler-Millar told me.
Others who painted chairs included Portland City Councilor and artist David Marshall, who attended the auction, and Anna Patterson, who works with designer Angela Adams.
Even Portland Superintendent James Morse Sr. broke out his paintbrush to create an elegant chair decorated in pink and white for the auction.
"This is the first time I've incorporated my art background with my job," Morse told me.
Turns out the head of the largest school district in Maine began his teaching career in the '70s as an art teacher in Unity.
"I look at these chairs and they're pretty impressive," Morse added. "I think (the auction) is a perfect example of grown-ups and youngsters on the same page. It gives them the idea you need to give back."
Before the live auction began, Edwards took to the stage and told the crowd that "next year at this time we'll have students telling us about the great events they did" after receiving a grant from the program.
She was followed on the stage by professional wrestler and Barridoff Galleries co-owner Rob Elowitch, who served as the volunteer auctioneer. He was assisted by Will and Carter Thomas, who are Edwards' nephews.
"I thought having an auctioneer with stitches and two black eyes was intimidating," Elowitch told the crowd. "Then I thought that it might be a good thing."
Luckily, he didn't have to use any muscle to get the bids rolling.
Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:
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Portland High art students Elizabeth Bull, Thira Sen and Ellen Jewett with their art teacher Tory Tyler-Millar, who all painted chairs for the auction.
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Rob Elowitch serves as volunteer auctioneer at theNov. 13 event, assisted by Carter and Will Thomas.