45 Transformed Guitars To Be Auctioned Off at ‘Art of the Guitar’ Fundraiser in Dallas

Foundation 45, a local nonprofit that offers free mental health and recovery services to the Dallas-Fort Worth creative community, is hosting the event October 21 in Deep Ellum. The organization was founded by the the former drummer of the band Spector 45 after two of his bandmates committed suicide, and strives to help other creatives on their own struggles with mental health.

A guitar can be a work of art in itself—especially if it’s wielded by a virtuoso like Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, or Dallas’ own late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan. But now 45 fine artists have turned 45 guitars into a whole other kind of artwork, for a foundation and a cause.

Foundation 45, a local nonprofit that offers free, “top-tier mental health and recovery services” to the Dallas-Fort Worth creative community, has announced the return of its annual Art of the Guitar fundraising event. Slated for Saturday, October 21, at Life in Deep Ellum at 2803 Taylor Street, the event will see 45 unique “art guitars” auctioned off to the highest bidders. Proceeds will help fund Foundation 45’s free mental health services and community events like the foundation’s recent Narcan Happy Hour.

Guitars on auction at a past Art of the Guitar fundraiser. [Photo: Foundation 45]

The participating artists donated their time and talent to transform 45 donated guitars into the works of art. They include William Bubba Flint, a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist; India Hearne, owner and designer of Whiski Designs; multi-dimensional artist IZK Davies; oil/acrylic painter Brianne Moore; and 41 other artistic talents.

Each winning bidder will not only take home a one-of-a-kind guitar, but also a personal story written about each piece and the impact that  Foundation 45 and/or mental wellness has had on the artist who created it.

KXT 91.7’s Nilufer Arsala will host the event, with help from noted auctioneer Reid Robinson. 

Foundation 45 President and Executive Director Lauren O’Connor said Arsala’s “deep-rooted connection to our vibrant creative community amplifies the spirit of collaboration and inspiration, promising an unforgettable experience for all.”

“The incredible artists we selected are so diverse in their artwork and mediums, allowing us to give them a voice and platform to express themselves on a guitar they’ve picked out just for the occasion,” O’Connor added in a statement.

Guitar from a past Art of the Guitar fundraiser. [Photo: Foundation 45]

Founded by a drummer who lost two bandmates to suicide

Foundation 45 was founded in 2014 by Anthony Delabano, the former drummer of the band Spector 45, and has “grown immensely” since then, the organization says. 

Delabano personally witnessed the devastation of untreated mental illness when his former bandmates, Frankie Campagna and Adam Carter, unexpectedly took their lives.

While grieving those losses, Delabano “had his own struggles with mental health and created the organization to provide free mental health services to the creative community,” O’Connor said.

This year’s Art of the Guitar date was purposely selected to take place on what would have been Frankie’s 37th birthday. Frankie’s father, Frank Campagna, hosted the first Art of the Guitar in 2016 at his Kettle Art Gallery in Deep Ellum.”

Foundation holds support groups for creative community six times weekly

Lauren O’Connor

Originally founded as a suicide prevention group, Foundation 45 now holds support groups six times a week.

“We also offer monthly art therapy, focus groups such as our Women of Color Support group, and 10-week curriculum-based substance abuse recovery through a program called ‘Remix Recovery: This Is for Jordan,'” O’Connor added. “All our support groups are led by masters level LPCs, and are completely free to attend for Texas residents 18 and over.”

“Most of those in the creative community do not have access to resources or funds to get the help that they need,” O’Connor said. Adding that “creatives are the culture that makes up the fabric of our community,”  she noted that creative people are responsible for a $34 billion impact to the broader regional economy, yet o are often without access to a support structure, EAP, or health insurance.

“This directly correlates to why so many in this community struggle with mental health,” O’Connor said. “Also, Texas being last in the nation to have access to mental health resources, it’s crucial that our organization exists.”

Guitar on auction at a past Art of the Guitar fundraiser. [Photo: Foundation 45]

Mocktails, sliders, and live music available at the event

At the Art of the Guitar event on October 21, alcohol-free mocktails will be available from Beyond Booze Beverage Company. An Easy Slider food truck and a cash bar will both be on-site. Musical performances will be on tap as well, with the bands to be announced soon. 

This year’s event had a kickoff in August at Club Dada in Deep Ellum. Artists participating in the event  took part in a drawing to select the guitar that they would take home and transform for the fundraiser.

Speakers at the October 21 event will include Delabano and O’Connor. Two artists—Jennifer McSparron and Erika Krivda—will also be “live painting” their guitars at the event. Music by DJ Bunny and Cha Cha will be provided as well.

Detail of a guitar from a past Art of the Guitar fundraiser. [Photo: Foundation 45]

“We’re a 501(c)3 organization, so all money that comes in directly goes back out,” O’Connor said. “All of our services are directly funded by donations so without that, we won’t be able to offer our services free to the community. This event not only allows us to raise funds for our organization but it also helps us support those that we directly serve. Our goal is to bring the community together, including other non-profit organizations.”

So what’s ahead for Foundation 45?

“We’re focused on continuing our free mental health groups and getting the word out that we’re here to help,” O’Connor said. “We also are getting more involved in the Harm Reduction space to provide the necessary tools and resources for individuals to live their lives safely and free of stigma. Foundation 45 also offers resources for the LGBTQIA+ community and local Black women.”

Sponsors for Foundation 45’s Art of the Guitar fundraiser include Beyond the Bar, Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Easy Slider, Deep Ellum Foundation, Hass Productions, and Kettle Art Gallery. 

Tickets for Art of the Guitar are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For more info, go to the Art of the Guitar event page.

Quincy Preston contributed to this report.

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