Muriel Lee and Her $10,000 Piece of Art
I became familiar with Muriel’s art before I ever got a chance to meet Muriel herself. Evie Turner organized another one of her wonderful "Bent Twig" art shows in September, and Vox Sacramento was hosting. Muriel was one of the artists involved in this show.
Muriel’s pieces were on the smaller side, but were very, very vivid. The bold colors and lines she used really made her work stand out. Muriel’s artist statement mentioned that Muriel took up art as art therapy when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, but it didn’t really take until she recieved the diagnosis of "terminal."
I met Muriel on Second Saturday. She was in a wheelchair and looked a little fragile, but she had a lot of friends with her, and she was obviously very happy to be there. We arranged a separate night for Muriel to host more of her friends at Vox Sacramento, and it was then that I was able to talk to Muriel about my work with Komen and that I was helping to organize some of the silent auction art pieces for Komen’s big Gala event. Muriel very enthusiastically agreed to donate a piece of art, and indeed said she wanted to go home and figure out what to create for the Gala.
Unfortunately, before she could create her new piece, Muriel passed away. Her partner, Laurie, very kindly donated one of Muriel’s other pieces, and I was able to bring it with me to the Komen Gala event on October 9th.
We didn’t have a bid sheet for Muriel’s art, so the Director of Development at Sacramento Komen, Kris Kirkpatrick, decided that instead of Muriel’s art being a silent auction piece, that it should be a gift for whomever had the highest bid during the live auction’s "fund a mammogram" drive. Our fantastic auctioneer, David Sobon, agreed.
After all the other "live auction" items had been sold, David introduced Anne Marie Scully Gold. Anne Marie is a breast cancer survivor, and she talked about how important mammograms are for early detection and treatment. She then read from Muriel’s artist statement, and introduced the crowd to Muriel’s story, and her art (I admit it, I cried).
David took center stage again, and told the crowd that his goal for the evening was to raise $10,000 to fund mammograms. The person with the highest bid would receive the piece of art that Muriel donated for the event. He asked the audience if anyone wanted to bid $10,000. In the background I heard a man say a little sarcastically, "Yeah, good luck." David asked again, and then amazingly, a pink bid number went up.
Joyce Raley Teel.
The crowd was floored. Mrs. Raley Teel’s bid and David’s enthusiasm electrified the audience, and although David joked that his work for the evening was done, he went on to raise thousands of dollars more to help fund mammograms for underfunded and uninsured women.
As one of the live auction runners, it was my job to go over to Mrs. Raley Teel’s table to get her credit card information. I’d been doing this all night, and up to this point it had been all laughter and excitement. I was completely unprepared to come to the table to find Mrs. Raley Teel crying.
I introduced myself, and crying too, i told her that Muriel had shown in my gallery, and I was so honored and so happy to be able to tell Muriel’s family about what her art inspired. I told Mrs. Raley Teel that Muriel had been an educator, and was a very well loved person, and that her friends and family would be so proud of her. Mrs. Raley Teel and I hugged, and she told me that she was very honored to have Muriel’s art.
Because of Muriel’s generosity in donating a piece of work for the cause, because of Mrs. Raley Teel’s generosity in donating $10,000 to fund mammograms, many women will be given the opportunity to survive.
I am so thankful to have met Muriel, and I hope that she knows what an impact she made on so many people, even those whom she never met.
Disclosure: I'm the artistic director of Vox Sacramento, as well as a frequent fundraiser and volunteer for the Sacramento Valley Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen For the Cure.