Event raised funds for Heart, Love & Soul
Article and photos by Timothy Chipp
Patti Thomas wanted to remain anonymous. It’s hard nowadays, what with exhibiting her artwork in a museum in one of the country’s largest cities.
Thomas, who started creating canvas paintings under the pseudonym “The Ghost” more than a year ago, had no intention of stepping into the spotlight created for her at Lewiston’s Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen on July 29. But her secret was out and Michael Hibbard, the Center Street restaurant’s owner, was entirely convincing.
The opportunity to give a portion of ticket and art sales to Heart, Love & Soul in Niagara Falls sweetened the pot, too.
“When you’re doing well, you give back,” Thomas said shortly after arriving at the party being thrown in her honor. Her husband, Buffalo Bills Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas, a willing supporter along for the ride.
Patti Thomas called the event “a fun night of art and community.” She said the experience of showcasing her work is humbling, whether at a restaurant fundraiser or at a showcase in Miami.
For it all to happen, though, the world needed to peer into the anonymity she veiled herself in under her pseudonym.
It took the wisdom, love and prodding of a friend whose opinion she took to heart for “The Ghost” to become corporeal in the art world.
“I trusted her,” Thomas said. “And as a good friend, I listened to what she said and realized she was right.”
In addition to Miami, Thomas has had pieces on display at Buffalo’s Burchfield Penney Art Center and currently has a display at The Buffalo Club.
But Friday’s event, which sold more than 200 tickets presale after setting a goal of 100, according to Hibbard, could be the start of an annual late-July tradition. If Thomas has anything to say about it.
Susan and C.J. Urlaub and Ashley and Dan Misko talk with Patti Thomas at an event showcasing Thomas’s paintings as “The Ghost” at Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen, 402 Center St., Lewiston, on Friday, July 29. The four were among more than 200 attendees of the private event, which promised to see a portion of receipts donated to Niagara Falls food pantry Heart, Love & Soul. Urlaub is president if Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, while Ashley is executive director of the hospital’s foundation.
Given the numerous reasons for hosting the private party at the restaurant, Hibbard may be on board for a repeat, as well.
He said his background in the art world as a sculpture artist led him to reach out to Thomas ahead of creating the exposition. He thought it would be a great way to help Thomas get some recognition in western Niagara County.
The extra little cherry on top was helping Heart, Love & Soul.
“And we wanted to expose Heart, Love & Soul,” he said. “We’re only eight miles away from Niagara Falls, but living in Lewiston, it’s hard to believe it’s that close sometimes.”
At $50 apiece, those 200 presale tickets raised $10,000. That’s before any art sales or other donations were included.
Hibbard didn’t specify what percentage of the evening’s receipts would be given to the food pantry.
Meeting the Star
Marcia Reed and Marvin McClellan Jr., meanwhile, found themselves at Gallo thanks to a Twitter contest. A user they follow posted the opportunity to win two tickets to the night’s event, and McClellan jumped at the chance.
He got a BINGO. Or maybe a Yahtzee!
Whatever he yelled, he won the tickets and, about 30 minutes after Thomas’s arrival, the pair got a chance to love on the artist up close and personal.
They talked about the art – Reed told Thomas she enjoyed “Gemini,” because she’s a Gemini and also a twin. “When I walked in, it caught my eye,” she said.
Thomas posed for a selfie and they parted.
“It’s a chance to say thank you for everything they’ve done,” Reed said.
It was a perfect evening for the pair, their first time in Lewiston despite living in Buffalo. The night also capped a whirlwind week that saw them in New York City looking at art in some hallowed spaces.
“Gemini,” a painting by Patti “The Ghost” Thomas. (Photo by Timothy Chipp)