Lexington gallery owner, Astarre Gudino, is hosting a fundraiser at her Open Spaces Art Gallery to benefit local sculptor, Kiptoo Tarus, after his house was ravaged by a fire on Sunday morning, destroying everything he owned.

The benefit, which will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, will see all of the proceeds from Tarus’ art going directly to him, plus 15 percent of anything else sold by the other artists without the gallery retaining any portion.

“It was devastating,” Gudino said.”When we heard the news of the fire, we had already set a closing reception this Friday and it was supposed to be a closing reception for the artists and the families to say thank you for being part of the show and when we got the news of what happened to Kiptoo, we decided to change it into a benefit.”

Gudino came up with the concept of her Open Spaces Art Gallery in August and opened it in October.  Tarus was the featured professional for the gallery’s concept of always having rookies and pros show art together and to offer a space where they can monetize their art and display it for six to eight weeks.

Regarding the gallery’s October opening, original discussions consisted of Tarus showcasing four of his sculptures in the show and to create one large piece for the opening. As the opening show grew closer, Gudino realized they had so much more open space and wanted more of his art to display against the rookie art and Tarus was generous enough to bring 16 sculptures to the gallery. The act wasn’t lost on Gudino.

She would occasionally visit Tarus at his home and marvel at his backyard, seeing sculptures and pieces sitting out as they were being designed, chain saws and his artistic tools scattered about, she was seeing the process of his art coming to life.

“It was like seeing a picture of his mind,” Gudino said. “It was amazing. When I saw the pictures in the paper of his house after the fire, it just tore my soul up because those pieces were like his children.”

What’s in Gudino’s gallery right now is all Tarus has left of his creations before the fire. Everything he has in life is contained in one small room inside the Wellward Regenerative Medicine building and Friday’s benefit is seen as a way to help out a well-respected artist in the community.

“I hope people realize not to take things for granted but to not take people for granted and their talents for granted as well,” Gudino said. “I’m hopeful people will take this opportunity to come out and show Kiptoo through purchase of his work, how much he’s loved and how much he’s respected and how much Lexington wants to see this man get back on his feet.”

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