Saturday, December 15, 2007

Where Worlds Meet: Charity in Second Life

Baron Grayson is an amazing artist with a powerful reputation in Second Life. He uses this, not simply for his own financial gain but to promote valid charitable efforts in the 'real' world.

Last Sunday, Baron Grayson and Sue Stonebender hosted an auction of one-of-a-kind pieces from the Opera House, one of Baron Grayson's famed builds. A portion of the proceeds of the auction were donated to the 'Gardens of Hope' project, a charity that provides food for orphaned children with AIDS in Lesotho in Africa. Items included the grand staircase, the original chandelier, individually numbered lights from the chandelier that was crashed into the theatre audience after the 27th October masqued ball, the domed ceilings and the golden statues.

Bids seldom were less than $10,000 and increased to sums in excess of $70,000. It was not an auction for any one who was not prepared to invest a serious sum of money both for charity and for the chance to own a piece of history.

By the end of the auction, almost $500,000 had been raised. In many cases, Baron Grayson vowed to match the winning bid with a donation of his own. Both he and his wife were indefatiguable in their determination that the event should raise a significant amount of money for the charity, but they need not have been concerned. Appreciation of the artistic genius of the Baron was demonstrated by the fierce bidding for each piece offered.

During the auction, Baron Grayson passed out gifts to each person present in the form of a special pennant designed for the sim where the auction was held: a RELIC Intemptesta Nox pennant. Later, he added music to the event, providing written notices of the songs being played, something I thought was a nice touch.

A live performance by a musician who is a member of the Tryst group followed. Unfortunately, he stood at the spot where new arrivals were teleported automatically and I therefore could not take a photograph of him that did not feature an 'unrezzed' avatar as individuals continued to arrive throughout the proceedings.

The work of Baron Grayson and Sue Stonebender can be seen at the Tryst website at:

Relic and Serendipity Studios

Baron Grayson in particular requires constant growth and change in his art and work. His sims always are 'under construction' because they represent the ever-evolving state of his own imagination and provide him with an opportunity to explore his own memories in an interactive art form. In allowing the public access to his builds, he gives others a chance to live in HIS mind. His work always is evocative and very emotionally-charged with a sensibility that he himself acknowledges to be rather 'dark'. The auction of items from his old Opera House very much demonstrated his philosophy. The Opera House was more than a 'build'. It had taken its place in the history of Second Life and those who had experienced significant moments in the Opera House were given a chance to become the caretakers of physical items that resonated with personal and collective memories.

In a dramatic and generous gesture at the end of the auction, Sue and Baron Grayson gave a woman who had danced with her beloved at the Opera House on the occasion of the masqued ball the balcony on which they had danced that night.

For those who would like to become part of the Tryst experience, Baron Grayson now is looking for literary participation.

In his own words: 'If you enjoy literary pursuits...Sue and I are looking for talented writers to help put into place an interactive questing aspect to the sim that works with a heads up display you walk the sim you interact with aspects that...'

Even if you are not a writer, you cannot fail to be enriched by any interaction with Baron Grayson's work.

My thanks to Mariner Trilling for providing some of the photographs as well as saving the text of the auction proceedings for me.

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