January 15, 2010

"Vieques Hilltop"
9" x 12" oil on canvas
(If you buy this painting before February 14, 2010,
$312.50 will be donated to Partners in Health.)

Painting with Purpose – Haitian Relief

I’m sitting here in my minimal studio in Vieques, Puerto Rico. It's about 80 degrees. A gentle rain falls, tapping out a rhythm on the banana leaves. The damp weather typical of the June-November hurricane season seems to have extended for a couple of more months. The mosquitoes have been terrible. They are my biggest concern, if you don’t count which new restaurant to try later in the day and will it clear up sufficiently to paint outdoors.

The infrastructure where I live and paint 4 or 5 months of the year is fragile. A heavy rainstorm or an angry municipal worker has been known the disrupt the water supply for days or even weeks. Think flushing the toilet with bottled water from the colmada. At $5 per flush, everything (and everyone) gets pretty stinky in short order. When this happens we consider it a disaster.

A few hundred miles to the west, on another Caribbean island, I imagine the weather is not much different from here. Perhaps the roosters are crowing just as they are here. But the rest is so unimaginable, it seems too hard to even try. Living so close, however, it’s not quite so difficult. It could’ve been my beloved little island that cracked open. It could’ve been me or my family crushed beneath a concrete roof.

I get to do what I love most of the time. I’m grateful for that. I don’t get paid for much of what I do, however, so the cash flow is not always what I’d like it to be. Nonetheless I am committed to my employment as an artist for the Universe and keep on painting. I’ve been struggling with what I can do to help my neighbors in Haiti. I checked to see if I could offer services as a former nurse and discovered that without disaster experience I’d be more trouble than help. I’ve gathered up a few clothes and shoes to donate. I’m sending a check to match what I spent on dinner last evening. But what else?

It's occurred to me to put my paintings to work. I've decided I will donate 50% of all my painting sales (less framing, or shipping and handling charges) from now until Valentine’s Day. I’ve chosen Partners in Health, a medical aid organization that already has a structure in place in Haiti, as the destination for this gift. They have a good reputation for low administrative overhead, so the money goes to work with a high degree of effectiveness.

If you’d like to support the relief effort in this way, please visit my website http://www.ellieharold.com/ and make your choice. I can accept most major credit cards. I will provide you with a copy of the check I send to Partners in Health with proceeds from your purchase.

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