Organized by the newly formed 3.11 Project, the event, at Openhouse Gallery, a pop-up space in the NoLita area of Manhattan, was a celebration of giving and hope more than consolation. Up-tempo music filled the two galleries, which were packed by eight o’clock -- the event ran from six to nine -- with a line outside the front door.
José Parlá, decked out in gray (knit hat, shirt and coat) welcomed another José in the smaller of the two galleries -- the musician José Conde, a handsome man with a quick smile.
The two exchanged points. “José and José,” Parlá said.
David Ellis, in a colorful striped scarf and straw hat, bounced around the art, throwing his name on several bid sheets.
Naomi Kazama, an artist and one-time gallery owner in Tokyo, custom-screened T-shirts for those waiting in a long line that included several of the participating artists.
In a far corner, the Happy Post-It Project for Japan was collecting notes on colored Post-Its. Catalina Garcia, a co-founder of the project, said the notes would be pieced into a large banner -- there were other stations in Boston, Washington and Honduras -- and sent to a shelter in Japan.
By all measures, the night was a success. And by nine o’clock, more than $40,000 was raised for the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund (via the Japan Society).
It’s very impressive because we only had three hours.
“It’s very impressive because we only had three hours,” said Kenichiro Konomi, a producer of 3.11 Projects.
3.11 Projects was created by Yuko Arakawa, who owns a production company in New York. Arakawa is from Fukushima Prefecture, around 70 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was destroyed in the earthquake. On Tuesday, the Japanese government raised the alert level at the plant to 7 on the global scale, which is the equivalent to Chernobyl.
Shepard Fairey in Action
According to Konomi, Arakawa began making plans for the silent auction immediately after the earthquake, and her daughter, Tanya Arakawa Rosenstein, curated the auction with William Robbins and Maripol, the photographer, stylist and designer.
“Mom and daughter teamed up and put the project together,” said Konomi.
The silent auction was one of many artist benefits for Japan in New York. A silent auction at Graphite Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at the end of March raised more than $15,000.
Several art websites have also banded together to place donation boxes in dozens of major galleries and auction houses.
Konomi explained that 3.11 Project has plans for future events, with the next one probably taking place six months from now.
“[The events] will be similar,” he said. “They will be arts or music.”
He added, “Most people pay attention now, but six months from now, a year from now, the awareness fades away.”
For more from Richard S. Chang, follow him on Twitter.
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