On First Friday, tomorrow, Farrington Place will hold a silent art auction from 5 to 7 p.m. and an after-party until 11. The proceeds from the evening will go toward "Stay," Ralph Wilson and company's fine art photography project focused on raising awareness of mental illness, and the subject of an Aug. 15, 2013 article in the Showcase.
The event will be held at Farrington Place, located at 416 W. Third St. "A number of notable artists from our area have contributed works of art," said principal photographer Ralph Wilson. Works from the following artists and artisans will be available as part of the auction: Chad Andrews, Juan Arata, Lynne Becker, Blair Brothers Goldsmiths, Stephanie Carey, Andrew Cohick, Joan W. Hoff, Stephen Hoff, Ann House, Vaugh Mallery, Curt Miller, Tim Miller, Verra Pfaffli, Roger Shipley, Brian Spies, Dave Stabley, Kim Wachter-Lutz, Terry Wild, Ralph Wilson and Patti Winters.
During the auction, piano music will be provided by Robert M. Sides. Performers scheduled to play at the after-party include Zak and Lauren Johns, Doug McMinn, The Backwoods Experiment and Mallory Scoppa.
RALPH WILSON/SUN-GAZETTE CORRESPONDENT
Over 30 pieces of artwork by 24 artists have been donated to the silent art auction a part of the First Friday fund raiser for the “Stay” exhibit. The samples shown here from left to right are by Veera Pfaffli, David Stabley, Vaughn Mallery and Andrew K. Cohick.
Wilson explained that the project's budget of $4,500 will go toward shooting, props, printing and framing 25 fine art gallery prints. "If we exceed our budget, funds will either be donated to a service organization that offers assistance for mental illness recovery or be made available, through grants, to support other art projects that give a voice to social issues," he added.
In addition to production costs, Wilson and his team are raising funds to both market and transport the show. It is already slated to hang in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg in May 2014 to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month.
This will come after spending the month of April on display at Williamsport's Pajama Factory for the show's opening exhibition.
"After the exhibit's initial displays in Williamsport and Harrisburg, in the spring of 2014, plans are to make the exhibit available to school and public galleries throughout the region to raise awareness of mental health recovery," said Wilson.
Wilson said his and his team's long-term goal for the project is "to increase awareness and foster a discussion of mental health." Tomorrow's fundraiser could be an integral part of reaching that goal. "We hope people attending the event consider the value their donations represent. There is an obvious, tangible value to the art and an evening of food and entertainment. Beyond that, there is an unseen value of helping the cause of mental health awareness. The "Stay" exhibit will both raise awareness and offer a message to those who are fighting their darkness that they are not alone and depression can be successfully overcome," said Wilson, stressing that "the value of offering hope and a sense of worth to a person is priceless."
More than anything else, Wilson expressed gratitude to the many volunteers, artists, financial supporters, businesses and organizations that have made the project possible. Wilson said his "feet on the ground" volunteers, responsible for planning and organizing the event and finding sponsors are Eric Winters, Anna Henley, Sally Cohick and Stephanie Carey.
Mental illness - especially suicide - has affected the lives of many of the people who help organize and volunteer for "Stay." A model featured in some of the images has struggled with clinical depression since childhood.
One of the volunteers lost a son to suicide little over a year ago. Other volunteers and sponsors have had suicides in their families; even Wilson has a cousin recovering from a suicide attempt last year.
"Even though suicide seems to be a common thread, it is not the sole message of 'Stay.' Our issue is really mental health and depression and the need to understand it as an illness that can be successfully treated. Self-harm is a manifestation of the illness and we hope people will recognize the need for help so suicide rates are reduced," Wilson explained.
Wilson and his team are approximately 30 percent through shooting and proofing the images that will make up "Stay." The team welcomes submissions of writing that speak to personal experience.
"The writings do not have to be long or written in a particular manner. We prefer the writings to be hand-written and scanned or photographed. We are able to help with either. Submitting an original copy is up to the author. Some will be displayed next to images that reflect similar feelings visually," said Wilson.
Written word may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If anyone would like to contribute financially and can't make it to the event, they may make a tax deductible donation to the PajamaFactory Center for Creativity, a 501c3.
Checks may be mailed to Center for Creativity, 1307 Park Ave. Box 10, Williamsport, PA,17701. Reference "Stay" on the memo line. Credit card donations may be made by phone to 971-2571.
Find the "Stay" exhibit online at www.facebook.com/stayexhibit and www.stayexhibit.blogspot.com.