Art auction raises money for Great Neck Rotary

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Local residents take part in an art auction at the Port Washington Yacht Club to raise money for the Great Neck Rotary Club. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Bottles of wine, New York Jets tickets and dozens of paintings were up for grabs last Wednesday when the Port Washington Yacht Club hosted the first ever art auction fundraiser for the Great Neck Rotary Club.

“They’ve provided Thanksgiving meals to more than 1,000 families in need, they helped to build a hospital in Uganda, they give out scholarships and do all kinds of projects,” said Linda Wisselman, a member of the Great Neck Rotary who organized the event. “It is a great way to give back.”

There was also a silent auction for items like gift cards to businesses in the Port Washington area and a 50/50 raffle. But the main event was an auction of art pieces of all kinds, from watercolors to autographed photos of athletes to pictures of New York. One by one they were auctioned off to a crowd of 140 people who had come to raise money for the Rotary.

Saul Adams served as the auctioneer, coming at last-minute notice when the original auctioneer was stranded in Florida by Hurricane Irma.

Some of the artists of the donated works were in attendance. Perhaps the most notable was John Stanisci, an illustrator for both DC and Marvel comics. He donated several of his sketches of various superheroes, including the panels of some of the comics he had worked on. The Great Neck Rotary is one of many charitable fundraisers he attends each year, Stanisci said.

“I support a lot of Rotary Clubs, they do a lot of good work,” he said.

The auction also featured a number of paintings from artists with ties to the Port Washington area. Eileen Shea Neville is a local resident who teaches art classes for the Art Guild of Port Washington and the Amsterdam at Harborside in Port Washington, and also serves as the chairwoman for the Art Advisory Council for the Port Washington Public Library. Her speciality is watercolor, and Wisselman said that Neville’s paintings were among her favorites that were up for auction.

“I just love the style and the brightness of the color,” Wisselman said of one Neville painting.

There was also artwork from Melanie Reese, who grew up in Port Washington and graduated from Paul D. Schreiber High School in 2009. Reese’s art has been shown in galleries across the United States and two pieces were donated for the Rotary club auction.

Wisselman said her goal for the evening was to raise $5,000 through the auction and admission fees.

In addition to supplying families with Thanksgiving dinners and providing scholarships to local students, the Great Neck Rotary Club has helped to sponsor a number of community events, such as concerts in the park and the Gift of Life program. Recently, the club helped raise money for hurricane relief in Texas and Florida.

“They’ve been very generous coming up with money,” Wisselman said.

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