Tornado Relief: Magic happened when this Dayton artist turned to other artists to raise money

Dayton’s art community has rallied to donate art works from their hearts and benefit tornado relief.

Just three days after the Memorial Day tornadoes ravaged numerous Dayton-area communities, Megan Fiely, a Dayton artist, turned to her computer rather than paint supplies. Fiely organized an online art auction after she visited a neighborhood along Troy Street hit hard by the storm. The devastating sight left her wondering how she could help.

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“Being an artist and a freelancer, I don’t have tons of money to donate. My money goes toward rent. So what superpower do I have?” Fiely said.

The auction wrapped up Thursday and the results — both monetary and response from artists wanting to donate — far surpassed any expectations she had for the project. Fiely said she is exactly $165 shy of $5,000, and is certain she will surpass that when the last few smaller pieces on the Gallery of Giving page are picked up. All proceeds will go to the Greater Dayton Disaster Relief Fund through the Dayton Foundation, which has already raised $500,000.

“I think we all need to look for that right now when it comes to disaster relief and responding to something like this. What’s the special thing I can do that maybe somebody else can’t?”

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With plenty of experience in the “corporate world” organizing projects and events, Fiely said it was actually a good feeling to switch on the less-creative side of her brain and get to work for Dayton. The artist compared the auction experience to “switching from exercising legs all the time, to an intense leg workout.”

More than 35 artists promptly responded to the call with donation that were “pieces from the heart” they felt were appropriate for the cause. With little notice, Fiely said most pieces had already been created, however, still included a theme of weather, love, calmness and other themes that inspired feelings related to the Memorial Day Tornadoes.

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“I feel like a lot of us are experiencing this moment right now where we’re experiencing how special our community is. And the amount of stories that have come out of just the love happening in our community right now— that has been this experience,” Fiely said.

The work was overwhelming at times, but Fiely hinted that the success of the auction will almost definitely spill over into near-future projects that will bring artists from all over together.

“I’m realizing along with others that as a community, this need is going to be ongoing— years potentially. Well if I (continue) to get these great ideas from artists and I can use this ‘auction branding’ to promote other fundraising opportunities,” Fiely said.

Among the dozens of generous artists who donated art work are Cydnie Deed King, Tiffany Diaz, Bill Franz, Cacky Jones and Fiely’s father, Doug Fiely.

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“So many artists felt the same way I did and said, “‘heck yes, I’ll donate my art for this and we’ll raise funds that way,’” Fiely said. “I’m really touched and reminded how generous Dayton is and the Dayton art scene particularly.”

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