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Bridget Finn with her daughter Florence and a work by Eddie Martinez.
Bridget Finn with her family, Florence and Sam Beaubien.
Jonas Wood, “Robot Living Stone,” 2021, oil and acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16⅛ inches, courtesy of Christie’s.
Eddie Martinez, “Bufly No. 8 (Mello Yello),” 2022, oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 72 x 60 inches, courtesy of Christie’s.
KAWS, “STUCK,” 2022, acrylic, pastel, charcoal and graphite on paper, 29¾ x 21⅞ inches, Christie’s.
Laura Owens, “Untitled,” 2022, oil, pastel and resin on linen, 26 x 26 inches, courtesy of Christie’s.
Jules de Balincourt, “Landscape with No One Around,” 2022, oil on panel, 20 x 16 inches, courtesy of Christie’s.
Sam Moyer, "Flo's Fern," 2022, marble and acrylic on plaster-coated canvas mounted on MDF, 30 x 24 x 1 inches, courtesy of Christie’s.
Bridget Finn with her daughter Florence and a work by Eddie Martinez.
Art

Gallerist Bridget Finn Launches Benefit Sale Inspired by Her Daughter and Rare Disease Diagnosis

By Katy Donoghue

September 28, 2022

On Thursday, September 29, a special sale in support of finding a cure for STXBP1 disorders will take place as part of the Post-War to Present auction at Christie's New York. Entitled “FLOURISH: Art for the Future,” the benefit is put together by gallerist Bridget Finn of Detroit’s Reyes | Finn, and includes donated works by artists like KAWS, Laura Owens, Eddie Martinez, Sam Moyer, and more.

FLOURISH” is a very personal cause for Finn, whose daughter Florence was diagnosed with the rare neurodevelopmental disorder less than a year ago. It is a lifelong affliction that impacts fine and gross motor skills, cognitive function, speech, behavior, and movement to varying degrees. Funds raised will go to STXBP1 Foundation, a parent-led advocacy organization, working to establish a network of research centers with partnering hospitals. Whitewall spoke with Finn about the sale, opening up to her community about her experience as a parent, and the beautiful response and action she received in kind.

Open Gallery

Bridget Finn with her family, Florence and Sam Beaubien.

WHITEWALL: After receiving the diagnosis that your daughter had the rare disorder, STXBP1, how did you decide to say okay, let's work on fundraising and how do we engage our community of artists?

BRIDGET FINN: We got Flo’s diagnosis on November 15 last year. It wasn’t so long ago, not even quite a year. We were not anticipating something of this magnitude. When we got the news, we started to share it with our friends and family. People don't necessarily know what to say. I don't know that I would have known what to say before we encountered this in our lives. I talked to my best friends Sam Moyer and Eddie Martinez, and they genuinely said, “What can we do?” At that moment, I thought, well we can do a fundraiser. We can do an auction.

I was with the nonprofit ICI for such a long time—I'm still on the board—I love a good old art benefit. It just sort of made sense to me as something that we could do. I started also looking into grants and looking into this world of rare diseases, which I really didn't know much about. Still, I know much more than I did, but I still am learning.

We're so grateful that a group of parents started the STXBP1 Foundation, well before I was even aware of the disease. They really formed such an incredible foundation. They've accomplished in four years what most rare disease nonprofits hope to accomplish in twenty. I asked, “What would something like $10 million do?” Their response was: it could lead to a cure. An amount of money like that could actually revolutionize research and the organization around clinical trial readiness to result in things being ignited quite quickly. Which made sense to me. When you think about COVID, in the last few years we've really learned different scenarios that can definitely expedite science. So, when I heard that there was no going back. That's what we were going to do.

It felt like this was a good way to not only get visibility around a disease, and raise funds for everything that's about to happen in terms of the next phase of research, but also to be very honest, to process my own grief, surrounded by what I know and love. It was pretty incredible how it all came together. It was like every artist was just 100% in. That is not something I will ever forget—the enthusiasm on behalf of the artists. The caliber of work that they've donated really speaks to their commitment to the cause.

Open Gallery

Jonas Wood, “Robot Living Stone,” 2021, oil and acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16⅛ inches, courtesy of Christie’s.

Open Gallery

Eddie Martinez, “Bufly No. 8 (Mello Yello),” 2022, oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 72 x 60 inches, courtesy of Christie’s.

WW: How did you connect with Christie's to host the sale?

BF: I reached out to Sarah Friedlander. We've been talking now for months. Sarah was fully on board. And the rest of the team at Christie's has been amazing to work with. I’ve spent a ton of time in auction houses as an art dealer. But this has given me just a touch of a closer look at how everything runs. Julian Ehrlich, who's running the sale, he and I have been in touch every day for months at this point. What was surprising to me was how much they wanted to accommodate and keep the artists truly happy. And how much work went into that. That was also just wonderful. If there was an artist request, they worked very hard to meet it.

WW: From your description of it, this is a beautiful example of both a need for action and bringing awareness to something. For me as a parent, reading the announcement of the sale, this was the first time I've heard of STXBP1.

BF: Yes. None of Flo’s doctors had ever heard of it. We’re based in Detroit but she actually has her doctor team in Philly at CHOP because it is just that rare.

Open Gallery

Jules de Balincourt, “Landscape with No One Around,” 2022, oil on panel, 20 x 16 inches, courtesy of Christie’s.

Open Gallery

Sam Moyer, "Flo's Fern," 2022, marble and acrylic on plaster-coated canvas mounted on MDF, 30 x 24 x 1 inches, courtesy of Christie’s.

WW: This is such a wonderful example of you taking the chance to be vulnerable and sharing this about your life in order to raise awareness, to help fund research. Because, as you said, this is still quite new for you and there is that aspect of grief you’re still processing.

BF: True. I'll say that whenever we push that public element of it, it is emotionally intense. There's another STXBP1 nonprofit that's called Clara Inspired, and their whole motto is, “We can do hard things.” It’s true. We have to remember we're each in charge of how we deal with it. When you've worked in the art world for so long, there are some things you try to hold back as private. This was a good reminder that you don't have to. If you are open, you'll be met with support and warmth. I really learned a lot doing this.

Open Gallery

KAWS, “STUCK,” 2022, acrylic, pastel, charcoal and graphite on paper, 29¾ x 21⅞ inches, Christie’s.

Open Gallery

Laura Owens, “Untitled,” 2022, oil, pastel and resin on linen, 26 x 26 inches, courtesy of Christie’s.
Benefit SaleBridget FinnChristie's New YorkDetroitFinn | ReyesKAWSLaura OwensSTXBP1

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