Back for its 17th year, the Box Art Auction for East End Hospice will take place at Hoie Hall in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton on Saturday, August 26. Available for purchase will be one-of-a-kind wine and cigar boxes designed by some of the East End’s most prominent artists. All proceeds from the sale of these boxes will benefit East End Hospice (EEH), a nonprofit that provides care to terminally ill patients and their loved ones on the North and South forks.
Arlene Bujese, organizer of the auction and a board member of EEH, has seen the auction steadily grow each summer. “It just seems to get a response every year,” Bujese says. “We have an enthusiastic audience, we sell the boxes and we make more money each year.”
All money raised from the event will go towards patient care. Bujese says that it’s essential for EEH to continue raising funds to meet the demand in the community and to ensure its volunteers and staff have all they need to offer the best care possible. “From my perspective, it’s a crucial need out here because you have an aging demographic,” she says. “No one is turned away. It’s probably the finest care a terminally ill person could have. It’s hands-on, the staff is wonderful.”
Most of the work EEH does is at patient’s homes, but last year they opened the Kanas Hospice Center in Quiogue. Local artists donated work to be displayed in the building.
The creative art available at the auction is a testament to East End artists. “We have a core of artists who have been with us since the very beginning and I always keep them on board,” Bujese says. “I go to exhibitions and invite new people each year, we always have 10 new ones—out of the 90 we have.”
This is far from the only event that showcases the generosity of the East End art community. “From what I’ve seen, and it’s been very consistent over the years, artists are always the first people to stand up and try to support something important. They’re generous to a fault,” says April Gornik of North Haven. Gornik recently donated artwork to the BIG TENT: Party for the Cinema art auction held on July 16 to raise funds for the Sag Harbor Cinema. Gornik’s husband, Eric Fischl, donated $1 million for the effort to purchase and restore the cinema.
Gornik says her connection to the Hospice is personal. “When my husband’s father was passing away, Hospice was an absolutely wonderful and important factor in the experience of his death. They were incredibly generous and wise about the death process.”
Hans Van de Bovenkamp, the famous sculptor and Sagaponack resident, is another artist donating to the auction who has experienced Hospice’s care first–hand. When his wife Siv Cedering, a Swedish poet, passed away, “Hospice was incredibly helpful,” he says. “They came here and advised on how to take care of her because she only wanted to pass away at home, and that’s why she felt safe. That’s the reason I continue to donate work to the organization, because I think it’s wonderful and run by people with compassion.”
Van de Bovenkamp is one of the few artists that doesn’t make a box. Instead, he donates small models of his sculptures.
Christa Maiwald may not have needed Hospice’s services, but she says she enjoys joining her fellow artists in contributing to a good cause. “It’s a great charity. Arlene makes the event so fun, it’s such a well-rounded community activity.”
Maiwald mainly focuses on embroidered contemporary pieces and, her box at this auction features embroidered candy bon bons.
This year, Ruth Appelhof, former Executive Director of Guild Hall, will receive the Spirit of the Community Award. “We started the award about five years ago,” Bujese says. “The first one was April Gornik and last year was Susan Kennedy Zeller. These are people who have been supportive of the arts in our community and also of East End Hospice. You could say a good majority of the artists who have made boxes have been touched by Ruth Appelhof in their experience with Guild Hall in one way or another.”
The Box Art auction will be held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 18 James Lane, East Hampton. The public is invited to a free “Meet the Artists” preview on Wednesday, August 23 at 5 p.m. The boxes can be previewed Wednesday, August 23 and Thursday, August 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The benefit and auction will be held on Saturday, August 26. Tickets are available for $75, which includes wine and hors d’oeuvres. To purchase tickets, preview boxes and learn more about East End Hospice, visit eeh.org.