In recent weeks, the sunflower has become much more than a national flower for Ukraine. It has come to represent peace, hope and the resilience of the Ukrainian people since Russia invaded their country on Feb. 24.
In Escondido, the sunflower has become a rallying point for member artists of the 66-year-old Escondido Art Association. Eighteen artists in the association created paintings of sunflowers that are now hanging in an exhibit at the Escondido Public Gallery.
“Sunflowers for Ukraine,” which opened Saturday and runs through April 30, is a fundraiser for the people of Ukraine. The artists have donated their work and all proceeds from the sale of these 18 paintings will go to World Central Kitchen, the international hunger relief organization that is now providing 300,000 hot meals a day to refugees in neighboring countries and to residents in newly liberated cities in Ukraine.
Association member Byron Marler, who painted one of the sunflower canvases and is coordinating the exhibit, said he hopes to raise $ 2,000 from painting sales. Marler said he knows that’s not a lot of money, but the exhibit is also aimed at raising awareness about the dire situation in Ukraine. The pamphlet he has created for the show will offer information on many more ways people can help.
“It’s heartbreaking when you look at the news and see the devastation,” Marler said. “We wish we could do more than what we’re doing, but it’s something. The artists who are participating feel good about it. In fact, one of them said she would be proud to have her painting displayed and sold to support the cause. ”
Founded in 1956, the Escondido Art Association now has around 130 member artists, of which about 40 are actively producing and exhibiting their work. Each year the association hosts 12 monthly shows at its 24-year-old Artists Gallery on Grand Avenue. The association also hosts monthly shows at the Escondido Public Library and six shows a year at Cute Cakes Bakery in Escondido.
Marler is the association’s rotations coordinator, overseeing the group’s exhibits outside its Grand Avenue gallery. He said the idea for “Sunflowers for Ukraine” was proposed by member Cathy Haven at an art forum in March. She had the idea of the artists donating their work for the exhibit, which Marler said is the first charity-focused show he’s participated in since joining the association several years ago.
“This wall of sunflower paintings represents a collective effort by members of the Escondido Art Association to express our profound sadness at what is currently happening in Ukraine,” Haven said of the exhibit. “We hope the beauty found here will inspire and encourage the viewer to reach out and support the people of Ukraine.”
Besides Haven and Marler, the participating artists are Jinx Lennon, Alison Driessen, Dan Kilgore, Kathy Aldrich, Elaine Griveas, Janice Niles, Brenda Townsend, Delores Christensen, Chickey Woldin, Suzanne Nicolaisen, Katie Cowan, Carol Criscsi, Muriel Varshay, Pat Hunter , and Diana Prout.
Marler said the library’s exhibit wall can’t hold all of the paintings at once, so some are being held in reserve at the Artists Gallery and will be brought in to replace the paintings that get sold during the month. The prices for the individual paintings are available at the library.
Exhibit hours are 9 am to 6 pm Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and 9 am to 8 pm Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, through April 30, at 239 S. Kalmia St., Escondido. For details, visit escondidoartassociation.com/fdrsr-ukraine.