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Disasters have a way of bringing together the most unlikely pairings. The recent Haitian and Japanese tragedies were followed by the usual Red Cross appeals, along with unprecedented activities by governments, sport teams, movie stars, firemen and, of all things, artists.

Literally thousands of artists dove headfirst into funding programs or created their own after the tragic events in Haiti and Japan, and they have not forgotten ongoing needs there. They offer their wares in the form of posters, films, fashion shows, concerts and art auctions all over the globe.


Ben Stiller, photo courtesy NBC publicity

One to watch is a joint effort by actor Ben Stiller and art dealer David Zwirner. Artists for Haiti seeks to raise funds for education and health efforts that have already begun there. Paul McCarthy (yes, of the Beatles), Chuck Close, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons and many of the world’s most well-known and high-profile contemporary artists will donate work for this New York event. Christie’s will co-sponsor the Sept 22, 2011, auction and intends to also donate their proceeds from sales.

Mr. Stiller had worked in Haiti previous to the earthquake, but has now expanded his work with the Stiller Foundation, which “promotes education and well-being of Haitian children.”

“When Ben [Stiller] and I visited Haiti earlier this year, I immediately felt compelled to do something to help,” said David Zwirner. “The art world is a generous place, and I am incredibly thankful for the extraordinary support from the artists and the arts community.”

In Portland, Ore., an event at Radio Room with several sponsors auctioned art for Mercy Corps’ substantial work in Japan.

Artist and curator Rachel Sanders commented, “We were able to create a generous donation within only a couple of weeks [in an economically depressed area]. My intention was to give of ourselves to those who are in desperate need of our attention”.

Dozens of area artists contributed to this and similar events, which occurred nationwide for Mercy Corps’ work in Japan.


Barry Mack, “Centered,” acrylic


“Hellboy” by Duncan Fegredo

All types of artists in America and globally are using their creative forces for good in the face of the massive destruction. Artists pooled their energies nationwide to raise funds for an endless list of charities such as Salvation Army, Doctors without Borders, World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Caritas International, Oxfam, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, Habitat for Humanity and many more.

Even comics makers got into the act with West Coast giant Dark Horse Comics auctioning off limited edition artwork and books for the cause. Granted it’s not quite the wholesome “Archie and Betty” comics some of us may recall, but “Hellboy” by Duncan Fegredo, at least, made quite some moola for Japanese relief work.

Canadian graphic artist James White of Signalniose.com designed this striking poster for Salvation Army, and several well-known animators lent a hand with their work across the globe:


James White’s “Help Japan” poster for Salvation Army

Various websites, including the work of James White and Kevin Lim, among others, offer art or photography from various spots in Japan with all proceeds going to the Red Cross, and even eBay artists are plying their wares for Japan. The cost for prints, posters and T-shirts is usually quite low, possibly reflecting the current economy.

For art lovers, the flood of art for relief work is a great opportunity to spend totally without guilt. For those who have never indulged in buying art, this is great excuse to learn how it feels to be both a philanthropist and art collector for, oh … about 20 bucks.

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