Gallery hosts benefit for homeless

Wilder Nightingale's 10th annual 'Hearts and Stars' features art, music and more

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It may not be snowing, but the nights are frigid and the ground is frozen. For many homeless people, sleeping outside during winter is a dance with death. The Taos Men’s Shelter provides a lifeline for men who have nowhere else to stay the night.

In support of this vital resource, Rob Nightingale will host the 10th annual “Hearts and Stars” art benefit Saturday (Feb. 10) at his gallery, Wilder Nightingale Fine Art, 119 Kit Carson Road. The event takes place from 5:30-8 p.m. The $15 admission (a donation) can be paid at the door. Guests can also buy tickets for various raffles and door prizes.

Some of the raffle items include jewelry by well-known Arroyo Seco artist Claire Haye. Entering the inviting space of the gallery, art lovers can peruse the original small works of art in a very relaxed atmosphere. All works are 11-by-14 inches or smaller and have been donated by local artists. A maximum price point has been set at $350, with 40 percent going to the artist.

“I wanted work that is affordable, but that the artists get something for themselves. The artists are so generous. Some artists have decided to donate their percentage,” Nightingale said.

Nightingale will set up his gallery’s great room with a silent auction table. Food and refreshments will also be served.

Wilder Nightingale Fine Art has a small raised stage area already built into its warm gallery design. For entertainment, guests will mingle to the smooth jazz sounds of Christine Autumn and Larry Audette. It’s worth noting that Autumn won Best of Taos 2017 for “Best Local Jazz Performer.” And she has a faithful following at The Alley Cantina every Sunday night.

“This is a get-together. It’s really causally like a meet-and-greet. We’ll have a very eclectic collection of artists from around Taos. It’s exciting to see what they’ve all created in a small sense,” said Nightingale.

In the coalition to end homelessness, the need is great, but the resources are few. Operating 365 days a year, the shelter feeds dinner and breakfast to its clients and provides case management for men needing assistance with mental and physical health issues. The shelter only has space for 20 men. If there is overflow, its shelter manager, three employees and case manager work to find housing for those men in nearby hotels.

All services are provided free of charge.

Nightingale spoke from the heart about homelessness. “It can happen to anybody. I once lost my home. So in a sense I had a taste of homelessness. Luckily, a great friend let me stay in her home for the winter. This happened to me with owning a business. People think, ‘Oh, you’re a rich gallery owner.’ Homelessness can touch anybody for various reasons. It happened so suddenly. I was blindsided,” he said.

In a press announcement, Jay Wood, vice president of the shelter’s board of directors, states: “This year’s Hearts and Stars is a collaborative effort between two great organizations in Taos with similar missions: the Taos Coalition to End Homelessness and the Taos Education and Career Center. Both organizations offer the philosophy that a rising tide brings up all boats with the ultimate objective of improving the life of all Taos citizens.”

The Taos Education and Career Center helps nontraditional students from all walks of life. These include those needing a high school equivalency diploma, fluency in English as a second language and training in technical certificate programs, such as certified nursing assistant or emergency medical technician.

Although the center is under the umbrella of University of New Mexico-Taos, the staff must raise 100 percent of their salaries each year through grants; they are not paid by the college.

In a statement, Jamie Eastman wrote, “It’s truly amazing that the Taos Men’s Shelter has invited us to partner with them. Shelter plus education is a huge part of the formula for helping those most in need have the chance for a better life.”

For more information, call (575) 758-3255.

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