GOLA at Flagler Beach Donates “The Face of Ukraine” for Benefit Art Exhibit

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine and the atrocities began to escalate, Daytona North artist and massage therapist Carol Brown booked a stay at an Airbnb in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

Like tens of thousands of people around the world who have booked Airbnb homes in Ukraine since the start of the war, Brown had no intention of visiting the Eastern European nation: his phantom booking was instead a way to give some financial aid to a Ukrainian woman and to show solidarity with the 44 million inhabitants of this country.

But Brown, who is one of 60 artists whose works are supported by the local art gallery (GOLA) at Flagler Beach, wanted to do more. The result is “The Face of Ukraine,” a benefit art exhibit to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 23 on the outdoor patio at GOLA, 208 S. Central Ave., Flagler Beach.

Brown and other area artists donate works for sale. All proceeds from sales will be donated to World Central Kitchen, an aid organization whose website, wck.org, said to be “the first on the front line, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate and community crises”. A headline on the website on April 16 read, “#ChefsForUkraine nears 300,000 daily meals, expands relief efforts in Ukraine.”

GOLA is looking for donations of artwork from local artists, not just GOLA members, for the show “The Face of Ukraine”. Artists interested in donating should email [email protected]. Artwork does not have to feature a Ukrainian theme. Entries will be accepted through the start of the exhibit on April 23, Brown said.

The show will accept monetary donations from patrons who do not wish to purchase art, and other fundraising activities will take place during the event, Brown said.

“I rented a loft in kyiv from a lovely young lady named Selena, who I still keep in touch with,” said Brown, who was born in Queens, NY, but “grew up in the woods” in the little Chester 57 miles away. north of the Big Apple. Brown moved to Florida in 1972 and to Flagler County in 1998.

Donating de facto through Airbnb appealed to Brown “because Selena had a face. I wasn’t just going to donate my money to some non-profit organization that I didn’t know, that doesn’t have a face. I wouldn’t know if I was supporting someone’s CEO or feeding a Ukrainian. So at first I found an Airbnb and supported one person. I said, ‘Well, it’s good that I’m helping one person, but I’d like to help more than one person.’ ”

Brown chose World Central Kitchen because it was the first aid organization she met on Facebook helping Ukraine, and because “I’m a foodie,” she says. “I feed people. I’ve been a raw food chef since 2002. I’ve been a chef all my life. I have a lot of respect for people who risk their lives to feed people. Food is essential. Yes, people need sleep, they need clothes and they need shelter, but without food they are dead.

Brown says she comes “from people who know how to do things. My grandfather always said never pay anyone to make or make anything you can make or make yourself. So I did. Her parents and grandparents taught her how to knit, crochet, carve, use a lathe and lapidary equipment, make quilts, and a host of other practical skills.

On the art side, Brown worked in acrylic paint, stained glass and wood carving. However, her current artistic medium is draped hypertufa, a process that recently led her to create “The Face of Ukraine”, a sculpture of a giant sunflower – Ukraine’s national flower – with a face in its center and painted in blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.

Hypertufa is a light and porous material composed of various aggregates such as sand, vermiculite or perlite, which are bound together by Portland cement. While still wet, the material can be shaped or packed into various molds to create various objects such as flowerpots. When dry, hypertufa is hard but light.

Six years ago, a friend of Brown sent her a YouTube video of someone creating with draped hypertufa.

“You take a blanket or a towel or some other form of fuzzy fabric and use that as aggregate instead of the sand or lightweight vermiculite used in traditional hypertufa,” Brown says. “The more hair a fabric has, the better it holds what we call grout, which is a very liquid cement. The entire piece of fabric is poured out and saturated with the slurry, then placed on a mold.

“I do a lot of flower pots and planters, but I also do sculptures. There are many people who make pots and planters out of old blankets and towels. Yet I searched on the internet and I did not find anyone doing what I do. I take draped hypertufa to the next level where I also create characters, sculptures and “The face of Ukraine”. ”

Brown, whose pieces take about a month to create, started working on a solar face and “it just kept getting bigger and I rolled around with it. I said ‘I have to paint it yellow and blue and I will sell it and give all the money to Ukraine.’ ”

While “The Face of Ukraine,” which measures about 40 inches in diameter, was still in the works, Brown shared a photo of the piece with GOLA owner Marge Barnhill.

“It wasn’t even over yet,” Brown says. “I hadn’t painted it. I showed her the picture and she said, ‘Well, we’re going to have to do an art exhibition.’ She rode on board all the way.

Brown calls Russia’s war on Ukraine a “genocide.” I can’t believe this is happening in 2022. It makes me sick on a daily basis when I think about it. So I wanted to do something. I wanted to help Ukraine. I am a massage therapist, I am an artist, I am this, I am that. How can I help someone? I can do something and sell it and involve other artists and see what we can make happen.

–Rick of Yampert for FlaglerLive

“Giuseppe,” a hypertufa draped work by Carol Brown.  (Carol Brown)
“Giuseppe,” a hypertufa draped work by Carol Brown. (Carol Brown)

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Sandy A. Greer