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La Jolla artist to help Ukraine through ‘uplifting’ exhibition

This painting by Margo Palmer will be for sale at an upcoming exhibition, with some of the proceeds going to the Red Cross.
This painting by Margo Palmer will be for sale at an upcoming exhibition, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Red Cross.
(Courtesy of Ashton Gallery)

La Jolla artist Margo Palmer believes “art is uplifting.” And to uplift the people of Ukraine — even just a little — she is participating in an upcoming art show in which sale proceeds will benefit the Red Cross effort in Ukraine.

The opening reception will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at the Ashton Gallery at Art on 30th, 4434 30th St. in North Park. The exhibit, called “Solidarity,” will feature more than 60 large and midsize original works by local artists, all created in the theme of Ukraine (featuring things such as the sunflower, Ukraine’s national flower, or the nightingale, its national bird) and in shades of blue and/or yellow, representing the country’s flag.

Participating artists will donate at least 30 percent of their proceeds to the Red Cross. Additionally, 150 small sunflower-themed pieces will be for sale, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross.

The show is free and open to the public through Friday, June 3.

For her contribution to the show, Palmer “poured colors onto a canvas” to create an image of her dog playing beside the blue waves at La Jolla Shores, with a touch of yellow in the sand.

“I’m generally a mixed-media or acrylic painter,” she said. “In the past, I have done oils but I’m so in love right now with acrylics because it’s so immediate. It dries quickly and you can cover things up quickly. You get results quicker. It’s fun.”

Palmer said the fundraiser is “such a good idea” because “what a thing to do when everyone feels so helpless and wondering what we can do to help. This isn’t going to make a huge difference but helps us feel like we are contributing something and not just sitting on the sidelines.”

“Art is uplifting,” she said, “and there are a lot of different artworks in the exhibition that show hope.”

To welcome members of her family to La Jolla who fled Ukraine with nothing but a medium-size suitcase, a local woman started gathering supplies and gift cards via social media and among friends.

Michele Joyce, an artist and instructor at Art on 30th, said the idea for the show came from gallery founder Kate Ashton after a recent workshop.

“The gallery is more of a community of artists that go there to grow and collaborate,” Joyce said. “Some are from Europe and have families in Ukraine. We’ve all been sitting and watching the news and feeling powerless. We started painting that feeling, like we did during COVID. Then we all talked about it, and there were moments in our critique of these works that people got teary-eyed.”

When the idea was broached to have a fundraiser, “all the artists were on board,” Joyce said. “It felt like a way forward and to process what is going on and see if we can have some positive impact. We know we aren’t going to fund a tank or stop the war. But even if it just helps one Ukrainian family, it feels good.”

As of mid-February, Red Cross teams had distributed more than 90,000 food and hygiene parcels to families on the move across Ukraine, according to a news release. The Red Cross also had provided first-aid training to more than 12,000 people in metro stations and bomb shelters; delivered more than 32 tons of food, blankets, medicine, medical supplies, trauma kits and household items; assisted with the evacuation of people with disabilities; and distributed critical care items to more than 7,000 people in bomb shelters.

In coming weeks, Red Cross volunteers will increase their work reuniting separated families and increasing awareness about areas containing unexploded ordnance.

“[The Red Cross] is doing the most hands-on critical work, and we want to support that effort in any way we can,” Ashton said. “This event is an opportunity to come together and help. Collectively, we hope to make a difference.”

Learn more at ashtonartgallery.com. ◆