Exposed brick and a candlelit foyer greeted attendees at The Bowery Hotel, the space exuding a warm, welcoming aura as it was transformed into a gallery for the inaugural Portraits For Purpose charity auction. The city lights sparkled through the glass-paneled doors lining the left wall, but the real attraction lay to the right: a set of stunning paintings by modern American artist Tyler Loftis.
Oil on canvas and ranging from 30×24 to 30×40 inches in size, each painting depicted a celebrity figure with roots in New York City at the peak of their respective professions, capturing the energy and personality of the sitter and immortalizing them in a new medium. After spending numerous hours posing in Tyler’s studio, renowned designer Rubin Singer’s likeness observed people as they entered, his black t-shirt popping against the canvas’s forest green background. Boxer Muhammad Ali’s contemplative gaze contrasted sharply with designer Kenneth Cole’s chiseled features as he stared intensely into the heart of the space. At the end of the line, the nude form of model Alina Baikova relaxed, the brilliant red background accentuating the outline of her body. Portraits of chef Alex Guarnaschelli, artists Francoise Gilot and Alex Katz, integrative medicine pioneer Deepak Chopra and drummer Jojo Mayer also graced the floor, projecting an array of emotions throughout the room.
The aim of the inaugural Portraits For Purpose, held on November 19th, was two-fold: first, to raise money for nine incredible charitable organizations working on issues ranging from homelessness to youth development to animal protection; and second, to raise awareness for modern painting, an art form often overlooked and all but forgotten in 21st century American culture.
Despite this lack of awareness, Tyler has built a successful career as an artist in New York City through his meticulous style of painting that focuses on the spatial relationships between objects in his works. Knowing firsthand the hurdles to making it as an artist, Tyler devotes much of his time to creating a lane to success for struggling and emerging artists, young and old. To make the path to a full-time career more feasible for aspiring artists, Tyler hosts All Art Works, a travelling curated show that hangs art by artists of all experience levels side-by-side to highlight up-and-coming regional artists, create an appetite for visual art in their communities and forge new artist-collector relationships. Portraits For Purpose was a new iteration of Tyler’s mission to raise the profile of art and artists, leveraging the influence of public icons to draw attention to the functionality and presence of visual arts in American culture while donating 100% of proceeds to organizations doing impactful work around the world.
“Through Portraits For Purpose, I’ve had the opportunity to use my art as a means to give back and bring fine arts to the forefront of people’s minds,” told us Tyler Loftis, painter and host of Portraits For Purpose. “I am here tonight for all of the other artists who don’t have representation or a platform to get their work out. So many artists spend their whole lives without their work being noticed, and sadly, at the end of their lives, that work often ends up in the trash. I want to make communities around the United States aware of the amazing talent living among them.”
A colorful cast of characters were in attendance at the event, as fashionably dressed models (including portrait subject Alina Baikova) mixed with focused art collectors, and pensive financiers chatted with gracious charity representatives. But they all had one thing in common: a deep appreciation for the art they were viewing and the causes being supported.
The event was a massive success. Tyler’s works invoked a series of oohs, aahs and gasps from the eager audience, generating over $200,000 in funds raised for charities – including The Heart Fund, HELP USA, Solinetz, Studio in a School, The Humane Society, LIFE Camp, Wellness in the Schools, the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation and Street Soccer USA – through online auction platform Paddle8.
Portraits For Purpose is expected to be held annually, benefitting a wide array of charitable organizations and causes around the globe. – GM
Images courtesy of Portraits For Purpose
Article by Nico Ericksen-Deriso