Online art auction to benefit LGBT communities in Orlando, Toronto

A Toronto artist has organized a pop-up online sale of contemporary art that is designed to benefit LGBT communities in Orlando and Toronto - with the help of a local auction house.

'I thought it was something that needed to be done,' says organizer Mark Gleberzon

Toronto artist Mark Gleberzon poses with his artwork, 'Aurum Barbie,' a face-mounted photo on a panel. Gleberzon, with the help of a Toronto auction house, has organized an online auction of small works of art. All proceeds will benefit LGBT communities in Orlando and Toronto. Gleberzon said 'something needed to be done' after the attack on an Orlando gay nightclub that killed 49 people on June 12.

A Toronto artist has banded together with a local auction house to organize an online pop-up sale of contemporary art designed to benefit LGBT communities in Orlando and Toronto.

Mark Gleberzon, the auction's organizer, said he wanted to do something meaningful after reading about the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people on June 12.

"I thought it was something that needed to be done," Gleberzon told CBC News. "The massacre touched a chord. This wasn't something that anyone had expected."

So he took to Facebook, putting a call out to his artist friends.

The request "snowballed" from there, Gleberzon said. More than 80 artists donated work for the sale, with some creating art specially for the event.

Patrons examine artworks at a public viewing last week of Small Art, Big Hearts, at Waddington's Auctioneers & Appraisers in Toronto. The online auction, which runs until Tuesday, will benefit LGBT communities in Orlando and Toronto. (Mark Gleberzon)

Gleberzon said the auction includes acrylic, oil and encaustic paintings, sculpture, photography and mixed media collage and jewelry. Encaustic is wax-based paint, involving beeswax and pigments.

All of the art is small, 30 centimetres or smaller. That's on purpose, Gleberzon said. 

"With small scale art, it's affordable and it fits into a small space," he said.

The online auction, entitled Small Art, Big Hearts, runs until Tuesday at Waddington's Auctioneers and Appraisers, 275 King St. E., second floor. The auction house donated space for a public viewing of the art last week and has catalogued and photographed each work. 

The proceeds will be split between LGBT charities in Orlando and Toronto. Gleberzon said he is hoping to raise $10,000.

Each piece starts at $50, but the online database includes an estimated retail value of the artwork. Interested buyers need to register online. Waddington's is waiving its usual 20 per cent buyer's fee. 

"Emojis, memes and pictures of rainbow flags are only going to do so much," Gleberzon wrote in a Facebook post following the mass shooting.

He hopes his auction can do more.