Painting Flowers of Hope: Artexpo Artist Jeremy Bortz
If you spent any time with Johannesburg-born acrylic artist Jeremy Bortz at Artexpo New York 2010, you’ll realize he doesn’t just paint pretty pictures. To date, the Canadian citizen has raised thousands of dollars in Breast Cancer research funds and donated countless cheery canvases to brighten oncology wards throughout the country.
“I’m definitely hoping through my paintings I’m creating hope—number one—and number two, that I’m giving people with serious illnesses some kind of inspiration to continue.”
It all started back in September of 2007, when Jeremy’s sister-in-law was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and spent a lot of time in Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.
“I remember the halls of the hospital oncology ward were a light blue, almost grey, color, and there were all these paintings on the walls of people who had lost loved ones or children… and I thought, ‘This is such a depressing place to be. Before I get put in a box, I’m going to change the way these hospitals in Toronto look.’ ”
With that, he approached Scotiabank—a leading Canadian bank—and set up the “Flowers of Hope” program, wherein he would donate one original painting to Sunnybrook for every $2,000 the bank raised toward research and beautification. Over half a million dollars was raised, and Jeremy donated 250 paintings to Sunnybrook’s oncology ward, which is being rebuilt and repainted in “brighter, more uplifting colors” as we speak.
Word about the campaign spread like wildflowers. Jeremy was approached by numerous other charities and has since raised millions of dollars for the Leukemia Research Fund of Canada, the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Toronto Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto Eastern Hospital and the Children’s Aid Foundation—just to name a few.
“I’m hoping that as time goes by, with every little effort that I try to make, I will be able to achieve my goal of making a difference in these people’s lives. When someone walks into a hospital, they always kind of dread the feeling, going to a place where they’ll hear a diagnosis and so on. My intention is to change the way people feel going into a hospital. If they can escape for just a brief moment, then I’ve achieved my goal.”
I spoke with Jeremy at Artexpo New York 2010, which he has exhibited at for the past six years to help promote both his paintings and his charitable programs.
“This is the show you want to be seen at. Art Expo has exposed me to North America, as well as to international galleries that now carry and continue to show interest in my art and my work.”
We’re honored to have hosted Jeremy this year, and we hope to help him continue to spread seeds of hope through his bright, cheerful paintings!
To learn more about the artwork and charitable works of Jeremy Bortz, visit his website at www.jeremybortz.com