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Joni Campbell and Chris Best. Photo by Marina Irick.

Community art show fundraiser honours mothers

By Marina Irick on May 14, 2015

Unseasonably humid weather didn’t stop about 200 people from crowding into a Westboro home on Saturday night to take part in unique celebration of mothers and a home-based art sale and fundraiser to support the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation (ORCF).

Months of planning — and the involvement of 40 Ottawa-area artists — went into organizing the event, hosted by Chris Best and Joni Campbell in memory of Chris’s mother, Doreen Best, who died 23 years ago of cancer.

“I lost my Mom to cancer when she was 54. I am turning 54 this year so it gave me cause to think about this,” Chris says. “Plus, and maybe it’s due to my time of life, but this past year I seem to have seen more and more of my friends being touched by cancer.”

While there are hundreds of highly publicized fundraisers and galas in Ottawa every year, this kind of homegrown effort is gaining appeal. Just minutes after the doors opened at 7pm, Chris and Joni’s home was buzzing with artists, friends and neighbors.

Inspired by a friend who has been organizing a similar event for a few years in Toronto, the Westboro couple provided a venue for local artists to sell their work and left it up to the artists to decide how much they would like to donate to ORCF based on their sales at the event. They also held a raffle and provided a website link for guests to provide donations to ORCF.

Chris and Joni’s sons, Gordie and Paul, worked hard to help transform their home into a gallery – moving furniture from the main floor and basement to make room for more than 130 pieces ranging from sculptures by Aboriginal artist R. Kris Nahgrang to vibrant landscapes by the late Josh Silburt and the modern imagery of local artist Andrew King.

Other Ottawa-area artists included Alice Hinther, Alison Fowler, Anna Funnekotter, Barbara Barkley, Danielle Pare, Don Gibbons, Donna Edwards, Jennifer Seymour, Emily, Judy and Sarah Anderson, Maggie Glossop, and Richard Bond — among many others.

“It was an amazing effort by Chris Best and Joni Campbell to bring together so many talented artists in support of people living with cancer in our community,” says Ottawa copper artist Barbara Barkley. “I was honoured to take part.”

Besides supporting a great cause and celebrating the mothers in their own lives, old friends re-connected, a community came together, and the life of Chris’s inspiring mother Doreen Best (a teacher, mother of three boys, passionate volunteer and good friend) was honoured.

In the end, thousands of dollars were raised to support the ORCF’s mission of increasing access to person-centered care by delivering Cancer Coaching and funding for important clinical research.

“If all goes well, we plan to make this an annual event,” said Chris. As their niece who helped throughout the process, I can vouch for the dedication and heart poured into the project.

To contribute to this Mother’s Day celebration in support of the ORCF, you can make a donation here.