Wellesley resident Eliane Markoff co-founded Art in Giving. She has brought about a dozen other artists together to help her raise funds for children with cancer. The goal is to get local companies and individuals to buy a piece of artwork to give as a gift or reward to a client or employee. Half the proceeds go to pediatric cancer research.
With its red, yellow and blue flowers and brightly colored sun, the logo for the Art in Giving program represents hope and happiness.
The story behind the design is much darker. When Rachel Markoff drew the three flowers on a grassy stretch of land, she was sitting in the waiting room at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. Just a few months after turning 8, the little girl was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She died in 1992, just a week after her ninth birthday.
“She would just appreciate the small things in life,” said her mother, Eliane Markoff. “She was a happy kid.”
Video courtesy of the Wellesley Cable Access Channel
Last spring, Markoff co-founded Art in Giving. The Wellesley resident, who started painting after Rachel passed away, has brought about a dozen other artists together to help her raise funds for children with cancer. The goal is to get local companies and individuals to buy a piece of artwork to give as a gift or reward to a client or employee. Half the proceeds go to pediatric cancer research.
“Right now, with this economy, artists aren’t selling as much as they used to,” said Audrey Markoff, Rachel’s twin sister. “For them to be willing to give half of their proceeds to Art in Giving, to the foundation, it’s really touching.”
Someone who receives a gift certificate for a work of art from Art in Giving simply makes an appointment to go to the studios and see all of the artists’ work. It is up to the clients to decide which artists to buy from, and whether they want to commission a new piece of work or buy an existing one.
It was other artists’ idea, not Markoff’s, to give half of the proceeds to pediatric cancer research.
“It’s hard not to feel compassionate,” said Stephen Silver, one of the artists who joined Art in Giving. “To have your child die of cancer is horrifying.”
The Back Bay resident met Markoff about a year ago when she got a studio at the SOWA Artists Guild on Harrison Avenue in Boston. Markoff had been selling her own artwork individually to help raise funds for the Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation, which she and her husband started in 1999. When Markoff told other artists about what she doing, many immediately jumped on board.
“The question is, why not?” Silver said. “It’s such a worthwhile cause.”
So far, the group has three businesses signed up and hopes to have six on board by the end of the year. Markoff suggests to businesses that instead of presenting plaques or watches, they can reward valued employees or clients with artwork they choose themselves, created by artists they have met.
“How can you not want to do anything for pediatric cancer?” said Elaine Bannigan, owner of Pinnacle Residential Properties in Wellesley. “It is very touching and I really am amazed at Eliane, who has created such a wonderful memorial to her daughter.”
Bannigan is encouraging all of her brokers to give gift certificates from Art in Giving to their clients. In a few weeks, the brokers will go down to the artists’ studios, meet them and see which artwork they like the best.
For Markoff, who shares part of her studio with Audrey, it is both painful and therapeutic to be a part of Art in Giving. She keeps a picture of Rachel in a room to the side of her studio. It’s still hard for her to talk about her daughter, who she said loved to play piano and soccer. Painting, and knowing her artwork is going to help other families in similar situations, helps, Markoff said.
“Keeping busy was the answer, and keeping busy doing things that I felt had an impact on someone in a positive way helped me tremendously,” she said. “I think I keep focusing on the end result, and I think focusing on hopefully helping other families and children.”
For more information on Art in Giving, visit www.artingiving.org or contact Eliane Markoff at via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 781-235-6205.
Elana Zak can be reached at email@example.com.