It's that time of year when area artists roll out creative boxes for a good cause. Tonight, the public can get a first look at the boxes in person at a  free "Meet the Artists" Preview Reception held from 5 to 7 p.m. (Wednesday, August 27) at Hoie Hall in East Hampton, NY. The main event takes place next Saturday, September 6, at the Ross School. The benefit raises funds for East End Hospice (EEH). The boxes can be viewed online at www.eeh.org.

The premise for the Box Art Auction is simple. Artists, designers and the creative start with a donated cigar or wine box and make something unique that goes up for auction. The tradition began 14 years ago with 100 well-known area artists participating. Now, the Box Art Auction is an integral part of the Hamptons art collecting season while assisting a non-profit that's equally integral to people living on the East End.

“EEH is one of the most loving organizations when the light dims near the end of living,” said participating artist Hans Van de Bovenkamp, according to EEH. “To help thru donating, such as artists do with their work, or through volunteering, is one of the most profound and satisfying acts.”

Separately, artist Don Saco agreed. "Besides the satisfaction of creating it, I'm able to enjoy the added gratification of knowing that as a donation my art work may serve as a valid contribution to the support of one of our community's most appreciated and valued organizations," Saco said to EEH.

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"The General" by Margaret Kerr.

"The General" by Margaret Kerr.

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In addition to tonight's Meet the Artists event, the boxes can be previewed in person today and tomorrow (August 27 & 28) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hoie Hall at St. Luke’s Church, 18 James Lane, East Hampton, NY.

The actual benefit on September 6 begins at 4:30 p.m. with Silent Auction. The live auction begins at 5:45 p.m. Tickets are $75 and include wine and hors d'oeuvres. At the event, the 2014 Spirit of Community Award will be presented to Barbara Layton, owner of Babette's Restaurant in East Hampton, for her generosity to East End Hospice and the East End community at large.

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Box by Louise Peabody

Box by Louise Peabody

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For this year's Box Art Auction, around 90 prominent artists have made boxes, according to EEH. They include Eric Fischl, Connie Fox, Stan Goldberg, April Gornik, James Kennedy, William King, Stephanie Brody-Lederman, Daniel Pollera, Randall Rosenthal and Frank Wimberley.

“Artists on the East End have once again contributed their time, talent and singular creativity to produce these unique works of portable art for this most worthy cause,” stated Arlene Bujese, Benefit Chair, artist and independent curator.

All proceeds benefit East End Hospice, which provides care for terminally ill patients, their families and loved ones living on the North and South Forks of Long Island, including the Eastern Suffolk County townships of Brookhaven. The Hospice is about to break ground on an East End Hospice Inpatient Facility in Quiogue.

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"Trying to be bulletproof" by Stephanie Brody-Lederman.

"Trying to be bulletproof" by Stephanie Brody-Lederman.

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Many of the participating artists have first-hand experience with East End Hospice.

"My family has used EEH and I personally have had the experience of using Hospice for my mom," said artist Daniel Pollera to EEH. "Without them we would not have been able to grant the wishes of our parents to spend their last days at home in comfort. Every time I paint a box I know the money raised at auction will benefit a great service for many families."

Artist Janet Culbertson offered this: "My best friend from high school developed A.L.S. (called Lou Gehrig's disease) and was mercifully assisted to die by hospice. All her friends were there to grieve and yet see her pass without suffering."

Artist Mary Laspia recalled separately to the non-profit group: "EEH provided our father with compassionate medical support and direction without the burden of cost. As a family we could concentrate on giving him our love and presence in a meaningful way at a very emotionally fragile time. Priceless."

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"Lotus Splash" by Carol Hunt.

"Lotus Splash" by Carol Hunt.

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Supporting the organization is a motivator for many. First-hand knowledge isn't necessary to realize the important part EEH plays in helping families and the individual cope with dying, said many of the contributing artists.

"It always brings me great joy to make a box to auction and raise much needed funds for East End Hospice in there terrific work," said artist Will Ryan to EEH. "I know people who have been greatly comforted and cared for by the dedicated and compassionate staff, and camp Good Grief is just fantastic."

Stephanie Brody-Lederman, a long-time contributing artist told EEH: "I believe that we must try to meet death, with the same courage with which we lived our lives. And I believe we each must be helped to navigate this passage, with dignity and compassion. East End Hospice helps the terminally ill make this final life journey, lovingly and respectfully.

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Box by Lewis Zacks

Box by Lewis Zacks

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"East End Hospice is uniquely qualified to serve our community at the most trying of times: the critical illness and/or death of a loved one," said artist April Gornik to EEH. "Hospice workers know how to talk to families and patients, how to ease and even enrich the experience, and how to make everyone the most comfortable. In EEH's work with those in mourning, like Camp Good Grief, the aftermath of loss is also made less painful. EEH is an invaluable community asset, from which most of us will one day need and benefit, so I am proud to support it."

BASIC FACTS: “Box Art Auction Preview Reception” takes place tonight (Wednesday, August 27) from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Luke’s Hoie Hall in East Hampton, NY. Preview viewings take place at St. Luke’s on August 27 and 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Box Art Auction takes place on September 6 at the Ross School. The Box Art Auction benefits East End Hospice. Tickets are $75 and include wine and hors d'oeuvres. For details, visit www.eeh.org.

The boxes can be viewed online at www.eeh.org

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