Art for The Trees If You Please

Bring back the forest: Tree-themed art exhibit raises funds for Memorial Park Conservancy

Bring back the forest: Tree-themed art exhibit raises funds for Memorial Park Conservancy

Art For the Trees if You Please exhibit, December 2012, Jim Porter chairman of The Memorial Park Conservancy
Jim Porter, chairman of The Memorial Park Conservancy Photo by Mandy Shefman
Art For the Trees if You Please exhibit, December 2012, Meghan Argo and Mandy Shefman next to the Walking Tree of Life
Meghan Argo and Mandy Shefman next to the Walking Tree of Life Photo by Mandy Shefman
Art For the Trees if You Please exhibit, December 2012, One of Janet Bodin's doll
One of Janet Bodin's dolls Photo by Altamese Osborne
Art For the Trees if You Please exhibit, December 2012, Jim Porter chairman of The Memorial Park Conservancy
Art For the Trees if You Please exhibit, December 2012, Meghan Argo and Mandy Shefman next to the Walking Tree of Life
Art For the Trees if You Please exhibit, December 2012, One of Janet Bodin's doll

When artist Mandy Shefman casually mentioned to Meghan Argo at Via Colori, downtown Houston’s yearly street drawing extravaganza, that the tree-themed images she was drawing referenced her upcoming art exhibit, Art for the Trees If You Please, she didn’t think anything would come out of it. 

But when Argo told Shefman that she worked as the consumer affairs specialist for Kroger’s Southwest Division and could provide food for the event, the latter was pleasantly surprised; she had already been rejected by the grocery chain and was looking for a caterer.

 Art for Trees the If You Please is a creative and philanthropic exhibit, created and curated to raise money for the Memorial Park Conservancy in the wake of the trees that died during last summer’s drought.  

Argo’s generous donation was one of many given to Shefman for the opening night of the exhibition at Mixed Emotions Fine Art, a Westheimer-adjacent art and framing gallery.

Art for Trees the If You Please is a creative and philanthropic exhibit, created – and curated – to raise money for the Memorial Park Conservancy in the wake of the trees that died during last summer’s drought.

CultureMap arrived early to witness the entire gallery being transformed into an art-rendered forest, made so by pieces such as Hope Wilmarth’s “Cathedral Forest,” a fiber artwork, and Christi Hellrung’s photographs of actual trees destroyed by the burning summer heat.

The art wasn’t limited to wall hangings. Some standout three-dimensional pieces included Johnny Rojas’ metal tree sculptures and Janet Bodin’s tree dolls, both of which sold for significant amounts. Bodin’s dolls, a mix of children's dolls with trees for arms, were true eye-catchers.

Included in the art displays was Shefman’s own fabric collage, “Joyous,” which depicted another  tree-limbed woman, this time dancing in the forest.

Tickets for the exhibit’s opening night cost $50; attendees purchased either a Tree Lover’s ticket, with proceeds going to the Memorial Park Conservancy via Shefman’s online fundraising page, or an Art Lover’s ticket, with $25 toward the cause and the other $25 to a work of art.

The 13 artists whose works were displayed contributed to the effort, too, donating 30% of their sales to the Memorial Park Conservancy.

 Included in the art displays was Shefman’s own fabric collage, “Joyous,” which depicted another  tree-limbed woman, this time dancing in the forest. 

The nearly 200 guests not only got the chance to peruse a collection of tree-themed art, they also rubbed elbows with Memorial Park Conservancy chairman Jim Porter, listened to music by Brian Kalinec and marveled at the quirky creativity of Michael Shaffer, known throughout Houston as The Walking Tree of Life, who ambled throughout the event as a moving tree.

Suzanne Marsh, another artist whose works were displayed at the gallery, painted on-site silhouettes of attendees.

Shefman, who grew up in Houston, moved to San Diego for a spell before returning to the Bayou City. Upon her return, the lifelong athlete wanted to live near a park – Memorial Park.

“Memorial Park has always been one of my favorite places in Houston growing up and when I moved back to town in August, I made sure to try and find a place close to the park,” Shefman told us in a follow-up email.

In addition, she joined a leadership program called Landmark Education.

The program, said Shefman, teaches participants “to be fearless, to live boldly, to not be afraid,” and for the third course in the program, she and others were required to “create something that links us to the community,” which is how the idea for Art for the Trees if You Please was born.

“I am very proud of what I created and how it turned out, and I thank everyone for their warm regards, but this event wasn't about me,” Shefman said. “It was just a wonderful way that I got my community around me on board with doing something about what we all already wanted to do which is help our park..”

Shefman hopes to raise $10,000 for The Memorial Park Conservancy. To purchase a piece of art or donate to Memorial Park, visit theartfullumbrella.com.