Hundreds Turn Out To Support Farnham

OSWEGO, NY – Farnham Family Services’ annual Unplugged: Rock The Arts event was ‘picture perfect’ thanks to David Garibaldi.

Garibaldi says he uses his artwork to inspire others.

A portrait of Michael Jackson created by world-renowned artist David Garibaldi.
A portrait of Michael Jackson created by world-renowned artist David Garibaldi.

The world-renowned artist performed his live stage show “Rhythm and Hue” at Farnham’s fundraiser.

Also donating their talents were local bands Frostbit Blue, The Predators and Doc Apple along with a myriad of artists who donated their artworks to help raise funds and awareness for Farnham.

Garibaldi, who is the opening act for the Blue Man Group, creates 6-foot portraits of pop icons to music at his live show, within minutes. He was born in Los Angeles in 1982, and later moved to Sacramento.

Unplugged is a music and art benefit, according to Jeanne Unger, executive director of Farnham.

Farnham has been around since 1971, Unger said.

“Our mission is to reduce and eliminate the use of alcohol and other drugs in our community.”

It offers prevention services, school-based student assistance and treatment services to all residents of Oswego and surrounding counties. All services are licensed by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

The fundraiser isn’t about the organization, she pointed out.

“The fundraiser is really about the many live that are touched through the work that we do,” she explained. “It’s about changing lives. We had 850 people seek treatment last year.”

About 15 percent of that total were adolescents, around the ages of 13-15 struggling with addictions, she added.

“We really appreciate all the artists and musicians who have donated their time and talents to help Farnham,” Unger said. “It’s amazing. We have a little bit of everything, all mediums are represented.”

The price tags ranged from $15 to more than $1,000.

There were also balloons with gift certificates from local businesses attached. For a $20 donation, patrons could purchase a balloon and have a chance for a gift certificate valued at between $20 and more than $75.

The fundraiser is important to Farnham, especially in these tough economic times, Unger noted.

Some of those who used to donate to organizations like Farnham and the Salvation Army are now receiving services from them. That means business is increasing while the funding from some sources has been decreasing, she pointed out.

“I am a performance painter. I create portraits in minutes to music,” Garibaldi said.

In a single show he can create several pieces of art.

His performance Friday was a little longer than 30 minutes. An average show is about 35 to 60 minutes.

“The show is all driven by music. It is a blessing to be doing it. When you set out to be an artist, it isn’t guaranteed. You don’t know if you’re going to be a success or not,” Garibaldi said. “It is a blessing for me to be doing this and making a living at what I love to do.”

It is a challenge as an artist to get people to understand your work – as ‘art,’ he added.

Different artists have different missions as to what they are trying to do. Getting their point across to the public is the ultimate goal.

“I see what I do as an attention-getter, I create portraits on stage as part of entertainment. But really my ultimate goal is to show my story and in some way inspire people. So I create these popular, familiar faces with popular music so that we can all get on the same page and once we do that as the show goes on it is less and less about the music and more about the experience of it all and some inspiration that I want to get across,” he explained.

His philosophy fits well with what Farnham seeks to accomplish, he said.

Each portrait he creates is 6′ x 5′ and the artworks he created for Farnham’s event were later put up for auction to help raise funds for organization.

“I just got my inspiration before I came here,” he told Oswego County Today during an interview. “Before we came here, we stopped at Farnham and I went into one of the group meetings that they were having and I didn’t spend a lot of time there, but I got to see the faces of the people that are affected by what’s going on tonight. I didn’t meet their families, but their families are affected by it as well. So, that was my inspiration – seeing them, shaking their hand.”

“I have been an artist my whole life. I have always been drawing, that’s my first love,” he said. “In middle school and high school, because I was also into Hip Hop it was like you’re creative and you’re into Hip Hop so you do graffiti, it’s kind of like a default.”

After high school, he was working odd jobs.

“But, I was very unfulfilled. I was about to lose my car, my apartment, I wasn’t able to afford anything. I realized that I have this creativity inside of me. I had to put it to use. I couldn’t tell you if there was a defining moment, or if it was something I read or a single moment, I just knew I wasn’t putting to work what was living in me,” he explained.

He shares his personal struggles and triumphs through his wildly splashed paintings in his inspirational art performances.

He began teaching himself how to paint.

He met his future wife when he first started painting. He went to paint live in jazz clubs and night clubs.

“She was a photographer for a nightlife web site and she actually kind of gave me my first break. My wife is officially the person who discovered me,” he said. “She believed in me during the early time. And, I thought she was cute.”

They have been married for five years now, “going on six. We dated for a year and got married on our one-year anniversary.”

He just got back from a tour with the Blue Man group in Canada, so he is kind of used to the colder weather.

“We went on a vacation to Cancun right after that, so I am just starting to get used to the cold again,” he joked. “I wouldn’t mind if it snows a little bit. Just as long as it stops before my flight home.”

His message for those receiving assistance from Farnham – “Live your life as a platform, and live with passion and purpose.”

The goal of Farnham’s capital appeal for the 2009-10 year is to raise $50,000. The money will be used to provide direct funding for agency’s student assistance programs and youth development.

For more information, contact Farnham at 342-4489 or visit 283 W. Second St., Suite 200, Oswego, NY 13126.