Yes we can.
It is a campaign slogan which has caught fire ever since Presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama uttered the words after the New Hampshire primary. Celebrities from Scarlett Johansson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar to Herbie Hancock are saying it in English and in Spanish.
This weekend, Island artist Leslie Baker is also saying Yes We Can. “Obama says if we all do a little, we can get a lot done,” she said recently. And the West Tisbury painter has found 50 Island artists to join in the chorus this weekend at a fundraiser for the campaign which will go off with artistic flair.
Sick of worrying about the upcoming election, Mrs. Baker decided to do something about it. She had the idea while attending the annual Dragonfly Gallery plein air art opening last month. “It was this wonderful coming together of Island artists,” Mrs. Baker said. “I just had my ‘Ah-ha!’ moment.” She approached gallery owner Holly Alaimo with an idea: ask Island artists to donate a piece of art which will be available as a thank you for campaign supporters who make a minimum donation of $100.
Mrs. Baker whipped out a pen and a piece of paper and began approaching the many Island artists gathered that evening at the plein air opening. “They said, ‘Count me in, here’s my name, here’s my e-mail.’ I had twenty-some names by the end of the opening,” she said. “And it just went off from there. People were asked to ask an artist,” she continued. Within two weeks, Mrs. Baker had a list of 50 participating artists, all of whom have donated one piece of work, some two. Some created art specially for the fundraiser. “Artists tend to be asked a lot to donate,” she said. “And they are people that are the least able to donate sometimes. The generosity is huge. We’re trying to encourage people to see this as an act of generosity and in turn, be generous to Obama.”
The list of contributing artists is impressive and counts among its members cartoonist Jules Feiffer, painter Allen Whiting, photographer Alison Shaw and tapestry artist Julia Mitchell. “They are all local, all people [that] people have heard about,” Mrs. Baker said. “All of these artists, their work goes for far above the minimum $100 donation.” The event is not an art sale, Mrs. Baker explained, but a fundraiser with an art incentive. “This is a way for people who maybe haven’t donated to get involved with a little art as incentive. It’s like a goodie bag, I guess,” she said.
The fundraiser begins Sunday at 3 p.m. at Dragonfly Gallery (Dukes County avenue in Oak Bluffs) and will continue until 7 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. In exchange for a check made out to the Obama/Biden campaign for a minimum of $100, the patron can choose a piece of artwork. The gallery will reopen Monday at from 2 to 6 p.m. to continue the fundraiser. The neighboring Alison Shaw Gallery will also be open as a site for Obama art lovers to visit.
“We’re asking people to be as generous as they can,” Mrs. Baker said. “For a lot of Island people, $100 is an enormous amount of money. We just hope people are as generous as the artists are about really opening your hearts up and also your pocket books.” She continued: “I think we all do matter, and it is important to realize that your vote counts and your beliefs count and everybody needs to exercise that in this campaign.”
As to where the money will go, Mrs. Baker said to fund the crucial last weeks of the election. “Your donation helps fund the states where the election may be more critical. Money doesn’t buy an election, but not having the money to have ads up and running and have offices in different states can help you lose an election.”
For more information on the Artists for Obama fundraiser, call Leslie Baker at 508-693-5857.