For children’s book author and illustrator Joe McKendry, whose first book was Beneath the Streets of Boston (Godine), the Boston Marathon bombing felt “personal.” Not only had he and his wife, Susan, lived in Boston’s South End and spent many hours at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, where the blasts were detonated, but their children are close in age to eight-year-old Martin Richard, who died at the scene. To aid young victims like Martin’s seven-year-old sister, Jane, who lost a leg in the bombing, or other children affected by medical trauma, the McKendrys founded We Art Boston.
Initially Joe McKendry had planned to auction a few pieces of his own artwork to raise money for the One Fund Boston, created at the request of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to raise money for victims of the attack. The fund quickly filled its coffers. After speaking with other authors and illustrators, the McKendrys decided that the best way to help young people in need of emergency medical attention was to set up an art auction showcasing the work of multiple artists to benefit the Boston Children’s Hospital Emergency and Trauma Fund.
Within weeks 40 children’s illustrators, including David Macaulay, Mo Willems, Ian Falconer, and Chris Raschka, had signed on to participate in the We Art Boston benefit auction, which begins [online on October 10]. An exhibit and event with bookmaking, signings, and live music will be held on October 20 at the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway; the rain date is October 27. Artists will also participate in events at Children’s Hospital and at other locations throughout the city. Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., will host a late-morning event on Saturday, October 5 with McKendry and Barbara McClintock. The artists will sketch teddy bears and other stuffed animals that the children bring to the bookstore that day; adults in attendance will be asked to make a donation to We Art Boston.
Some of the art has already been placed at locations around the Greater Boston area, including Boston Children’s Hospital and Porter Square Books, and it can be viewed on the We Art Boston Facebook page. McKendry says that he hopes to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 for the hospital fund.