Art for Chile

Chile is just getting hammered. And, says Magaly Ponce, a Chilean-born Providence artist and college professor, despite what you might have heard, the people there need our help:

"The most damaging mismanagement on the government’s part, it seems, was to not quickly assess the extent of the damages, initially turning away international help and later misinforming citizens of the tsunami risk. People from coastal towns intuitively had taken cover up on the hills, then later an official announcement was made that it was safe to return to their homes.
The ones that did return were then hit by the tsunami that devastated most of the coastal towns around Concepción. There are reports that water moved 31 miles inland."

Ponce has a close friend living in Concepción and her parents live in Viña Del Mar, another coastal town that’s been hit hard, so she gets first-hand updates. It’s true that Chile’s physical infrastructure was more solid than Haiti’s, but the earthquakes have been enormous, and the tsunami entirely obliterated some coastal villages. Magaly’s parents’ ninth-floor apartment has survived two quakes and multiple aftershocks, but the next-door apartment building fractured right down the middle and must soon be torn down. Homelessness and hunger are causing enormous suffering throughout the region. Rural regions are hardest hit, reports the Red Cross, and winter is coming.
So Ponce is doing something about it. She, photographer Frank Mullin, and Maya Allison (a curator of 5 Traverse fame) have organized more than 40 local artists to donate work for a silent auction this weekend in downtown Providence called Art For Chile. The opening is Thursday, March 18, and continues through Sunday, March 21. It’s on Westminster Street, in the space left vacant by Butterfeld. Stop by, and if you see a piece of art  you like, you can write your name down for it with a bid (starting at 50 percent of the market value) or short-circuit the process by choosing the ‘buy it now’ option. For more information, and to check out the artists and their donated works, check out Art For Chile’s website and Facebook page.
There are lots more reasons to be downtown this weekend, what with Gallery Night on Thursday, and the newly relocated Heir and Queen of Hearts also moving in to Westminster digs (Heir is holding its opening party that Saturday).

More details from Magaly about the first quake:
"It all started at 3:34 a.m. Unlike the 1985 and 1960 earthquakes, which my parents describe as “building up slowly,” this one hit hard from the get go and did not “fade out.” A shelf fell on my dad, while he was telling my mom to get away from the large glass windows. The headboard prevented him from getting crushed, and during the four-minute quake they could hear a lot of things falling, and crashing when the lights went off. In the dark my father tried to reach for the emergency flashlight, but all the closet drawers opened and were blocking the door with their contents. Together they walked through the rooms and realized the kitchen cabinets were all open and glasses and plates smashed all over the floor, including the refrigerator, which they describe humorously as the “magic conversion of eggs into mayo.” 
They then called my sister in Patagonia (1,500 miles away) to let her know they were safe. But after that all land phone and cell communications systems collapsed.
That morning Roberto, my father, walked down the emergency stairs to his car to listen to the radio news and announcements, when a six-degree aftershock hit. He went back up to the apartment and while climbing the stairs realized the building’s emergency lights were on, and found an outlet. With extension cords they plugged in their cell phone, refrigerator, and television."

Viña Del Mar was since hit by last Thursday’s magnitude 7 quake, and was under a tsunami warning all weekend; Magaly’s parents are ok, but all around them is enormous devastation. For anyone that wants to help, they suggest making donations to Un Techo Para Chile, (A Roof for Chile), a local nonprofit with an impeccable track record. The fundraiser this weekend will benefit the group, as well as Hogar de Cristo and the Red Cross.

ART FOR CHILE: A Silent Auction to Benefit the Quake & Tsunami Victims
Thursday: Opening Gallery Night, 5-8pm
Friday: 12-8pm
Saturday: 12-9pm (party 5-9)
Sunday: 12-5 (auction ends at 5pm)