MARK HOLMBERG: Fundraiser for Richmond illustrator draws big crowd

Posted at 12:15 AM, May 01, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-02 06:19:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Artists and friends by the hundreds gathered at the Ghostprint Gallery downtown Monday night to share their work, to help one of their own.

Well-known Richmond-area illustrator Kerry Talbott found out he had a type of brain cancer in late 2010.

“Christmas Day, when I woke up in the back of the rescue squad,” Talbott recalled.

At the hospital, he learned the massive seizure he suffered was caused by tumors in his brain.

“They told me they were going to take it out right away,” he said. “This was at Johnston-Willis (Hospital) and everybody was really terrific.”

After surgery, he had chemotherapy. He has a wife and two young children counting on him.

Kerry was an award-wining artist and illustrator for the Times-Dispatch for more than 20 years. Tom Roberts, also a T-D artist, remembers when Talbott was hired. “From the very beginning, he was a great art talent. In fact, I was doing illustrations at the time. I thought, I’d better slide over, do something else.”

Kerry was laid off during one of the papers staff reductions. He lost his health insurance.

So, artist friends and former students at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he was an adjunct instructor, wanted to help him pay off some of his medical debts by auctioning off their work. About 300 people showed up to the upbeat gala for a man whose work has graced many publications in central Virginia, and beyond.

Patrick Godfrey, one of the organizers of the auction, was one of Kerry’s students at VCU. He said the whole thing came together quickly, and with a lot of love.

“We kind of put the little snowball on the mountain and pushed it down the hill,” he said as the large throng overflowed onto the sidewalk in front of the gallery. “And then we got this out of it.”

“Fun-loving, great, sharing guy,” said Forrest Young, an illustrator and one of Kerry’s former students at VCU who contributed art. “I learned a lot about technique from him, but I also learned a lot about just how to hang out and be a good person.”

“We went to high school together,” said well-known artist and musician Wes Freed, who contributed one of his famous band fliers. “We graduated the same year, took the same art class.”

It was a touching event, evidence of the close-knit and caring nature of the city’s vast art community. A family, really.

“I can’t possibly tell you how overwhelmed I am by this whole thing,” said Kerry’s mother, Sara Talbott as she watched all of her son’s friends and supporters. “If you need something to restore your faith in humanity, this will work.”

There are still some items for sale and inquiries can be made by contacting pkgvelocity [at] gmail [dot]com.