|Skinny Dragon by Michael Wasserman|
For many months, I have long coveted Michael's art creations. Marveling at his strategic use of color and talent to use scraps of paper to create a 3-D picture. His ability to turn something abstract into an underwater escape or his interpretation of Peter, Paul, and Mary's "Puff the Magic Dragon". You see, Michael is an artist. A successful artist. That I know of, every piece of artwork that he has placed up for auction with Kinetic Art has sold.
I had never bid on a painting before. Bidding is a dangerous activity for me. I get nervous. What if someone outbids me? Do I keep going? Do I just wash my hands of it? Or do I keep going until I have bid more money than I have? I am competitive like that.
Yet, that beige painting with fish and a dragon tugged on my heart strings.
You see, Michael could make himself rich off of his paintings. Instead, he generously and selflessly gives back to the community. He places his art on his facebook page Kinetic Art with the rule that the winning bid must donate the money to the nonprofit organization of their choice. The organization must serve those, adults and/or children, with intellectual disabilities. People like him. People like my daughter Ellie. People like my beloved Aunt Peg. Michael wants to give back and he wants to make sure that those with disabilities continue to receive the assistance that they need.
Back to Skinny Dragon. I had grand plans you see. I wanted to honor my Aunt Peggy who passed just before Christmas. If I held the winning bid, the funds would go to the St. Louis ARC. The St. Louis ARC was so good to Aunt Peggy. She lived in Rainbow Village, a group home for those with intellectual disabilities. Peggy loved her home and those who worked there loved her. When Peg moved into assisted living and into hospice, the workers from Rainbow Village continued to visit her. They brought CDs so that she could continue to rock out to John Denver. One of them even brought her guitar because she loved live music. When Peggy passed, they were devastated. They made sure that nearly all of the Rainbow Village residents attended her funeral.
I watched this auction of 4 amazingly, breathtaking paintings take place on Michael's Kinetic Art Facebook page. I watched as the bids climbed higher and higher. So high that I knew that Skinny Dragon would not be ours. I entered my last bid. The max that we could offer. The last bid for Peggy. Certain that we would not win. Michael's artwork is that awesome. I knew it would go for a much higher price and that was okay. Remember, the funds would be put to good use. To a deserving charity.
Anna Theurer $xx. This is the highest I can go, Michael. It is my favorite painting of yours (and you know how much I LOVE your art) and the funds would go to the St. Louis ARC. The ARC was so good to my Aunt Peggy.
Something happened. Something amazing. Something that reminded me of the innate goodness of others.
The big contender withdrew his bid from the Skinny Dragon. He walked away so that Peggy would be honored. He conceded. With tears streaming down my face, I watched as others commented on the Facebook auction that they too would follow in this young man's footsteps and not bid. All of those people honored Peggy.
This past week, I received my letter from the St. Louis ARC acknowledging my donation in honor of Peggy and in tribute to Michael. It may not be the largest donation they have ever received, but I do hope that it does make a difference in providing services to those with special needs.
A few days ago, a large, padded envelope was delivered to my mailbox. As I carefully tore open the envelope and peeled back the bright-colored tissue paper, there was Skinny Dragon staring up at me. A painting to remind me of Aunt Peggy, Michael, and those kind strangers from the auction. Tears welled up in my eyes, threatening to spill over onto this beautiful work of art.
Because for me, this painting is a symbol. A symbol that all of us, no matter our disABILITY, can give back to the community. That every single person has a unique gift. A unique talent. The ability to contribute to society and make a difference. A symbol that people are innately good and kind.
Thank you. Thank you so much, Michael, Mary, and those who participated in the auction (you know who you are).
I am saving up for the next Facebook auction, which coincidentally starts Feb. 12th. Be sure to stop on by Michael's FB page and marvel at his amazing artwork and perhaps think about entering a bidding war!
Michael was featured on the National Down Syndrome Society's My Great Story Campaign and was featured in the Times Square Buddy Walk Video in 2010