Friday, February 11, 2011

Professional art community rallies around a 10-year-old's idea to assist Coconut Grove's homeless at annual St. Steven's Arts Show

Ava Salazar, 10, had a vision for the homeless in her community. She connected her love of art, her church, the annual St. Stephen's Art Show, and the homeless in a creative and charitable endeavor. Through art and the local community, Ava has aspired to complete her first humanitarian project to raise money and awareness for homeless in Coconut Grove.

This year's St. Stephen's Art Show featues Ava's unique exhibit, titled Hope Floats. This one-time art exhibit takes place during the 160 artist show, three-day festival, held Feb. 19-21 from 9am to 6pm, on the shady campus of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church located at 2750 McFarlane Rd., in the heart of Coconut Grove.

“I was having family dinner and talking with my step-mom about cooking for the homeless at church... and I learned that some [homeless people] even live in old boats patched with recycled wood and sails,” says fifth grade student, Ava. “I asked if our art show did anything to sell art for the homeless, and when I learned it didn’t, I came up with an idea to have artists paint sails and sell them to raise money."

With a support system of adults including her step-mom, her aunt Carolina Salazar, an artist and assistant curator of Miami International Airport Galleries, St. Stephen's Art Show Director Daisy Lewis, and the St. Stephens Art Show Steering Committee, Ava arranged weekly meetings via Skype to recruit artists and secure sponsorship.

Artists participating in the cause include Neith Nevelson, a Coconut Grove icon noted as the “VanGogh of our time,” Claudia Scalise, Sri Prabha, Charles E. Humes, Mark Osterman, Abraham Camayd, and Carolina Salazar. Each artist has painted with oil-based acrylic work on custom cut three-foot and six-foot pieces of sail cloth donated for Hope Floats by Bremen Sails.

The pieces will be displayed within a unique exhibit area at the St. Stephens Art Show and available by silent auction throughout the festival's weekend. All proceeds raised by the silent auction will go to assist the homeless and Neith Nevelson who today lives in a semi-homeless state of her own.

Known as one of South Florida’s most popular outdoor art festivals, and now in its 23 year, the St. Stephen’s Art Show serves as a nonprofit event that helps fund outreach programs in Miami. Visitors can enjoy artwork from more than 160 renowned artists, an international food court, children’s activity area, an authentic English tea room and musical entertainment. Admission is $1 for adults and children older than 12.

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