Oak Park Arts District comes together to help Texas family

Owner of Bright Olive Art Lab transforms studio for benefit

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

The collaborative spirit of the Oak Park Arts District isn't restricted to its nine-block radius.

With the leadership of Jenny Tiner, owner of Bright Olive Art Lab, a Texas family suffering from the recent death of its 4-year-old son is gaining support from across the country.

Xander Vento, in a courageous and selfless act, lost his life saving another. Last month while swimming at a community pool, Xander saw a 3-year-old friend struggling. He went to her aid and managed to hold her above water, but ingested a large amount himself. After four days, his family took him off life support.

Xander's mother is an old friend of Tiner, and when news of the accident spread, she joined in.

Tiner said the young boy loved art and especially the color green. This provided the inspiration for the newly transformed gallery at 27 Harrison St., which for the next month will be known as Xander Gallery.

The Oak Park artist shared his story with others in the district and artists she knew from across the country. She explained her goal of transforming her gallery for a fundraiser, and it didn't take long before art arrived from across the Arts District and the rest of the country.

"I could not believe it spread so far," Tiner said. More than 200 pieces from 15 artists have become part of the collection to help the cause.

Many of the pieces have a green color scheme, in honor of Xander. Some of the artists donated the pieces without asking for anything in return. The proceeds will go to the Vento family to help offset the high medical costs.

"It's focused on family and loving family," Tiner said. "That's what it's all about."

Speaking about the heroic actions of Xander isn't easy for Tiner, but reminding people to help others is a message she wants to spread. The benefit will also have literature about organ donation since Xander's organs are going to help save more lives.

The celebration of Xander's life and artists coming together will take place this weekend, Sept. 21-22, during Art on Harrison. The gallery will host an artist's reception and be filled with green balloons that people can write messages on to release into the air.

"He made just a huge impact to remember what we all can be," Tiner said. "He didn't hesitate to save a life, so we shouldn't hesitate to save a family."

Email: anna@oakpark.com Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Jenny Tiner  

Posted: September 19th, 2012 12:38 PM

Thank you so much for the link and Kathleen thank you, you've got a pretty amazing ticker in there yourself it seems! Hope to see you all Friday...

Kathleen Lee from Oak Park  

Posted: September 19th, 2012 9:49 AM

What a beautiful heart you have Jenny, and what a wonderful tribute to Xander.


Posted: September 19th, 2012 9:11 AM

Here is an article on the Balloons and why there are really bad for celebrations IF people release them into the air. http://balloonsblow.org/the-ugly-truth http://balloonsblow.org/environmentally-friendly-alternatives. Hope these help. Have a great day!


Posted: September 18th, 2012 11:34 PM

Hi Freespirit! The balloons were chosen because it was what was done as a tribute to Xander all over the country, I was trying to keep in line with how we have honored him. I don't know who else does this, but as for me and your forewarning about fish please do let me know if you have a better idea. I would gladly switch out the idea. Thank you for the environmental concern and really please give any ideas! Thank you!


Posted: September 18th, 2012 11:00 PM

Sweet story with a sweet ending, we hope with the sale of many paintings. The only thing I don't like is the releasing of balloons. Somehow, they are attracted to large bodies of water and wind up in the mouths of fish which then kills them. Sure wish people would come up with better ideas that don't include releasing balloons!


Posted: September 18th, 2012 10:32 PM

Thank you Anna. You wrote so delicately and with a spirit of honor for Xander. Just one thing, so sorry, he didn't jump in, Xander was already in the water with the 3 1/2 year old friend. Misty noted the error recently and I just want to clear that up in respect to the family. Really, thank you, if it was my mistake I apologize. For all the readers, we would love to see you all. Again, many thanks Anna.

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