Art, Wine, and Good Times at the 2023 Art & Wine Celebration for Aspiring Artists!


Art, wine, and good times were had at Kleinhans’ Music Hall in Buffalo for Aspire of WNY’s annual Art and Wine fundraiser event on Friday, September 8th. The community came together to recognize the talents of several artists who participate in our iXpress Art Program. This event is our largest annual fundraiser and drew a crowd of over 300 attendees.

The Art and Wine event featured live and silent auctions, food and drinks from an abundance of local vendors, an ultraviolet art experience, a live music performance from Universal Mind, and a chance to purchase art created by iXpress artists. Vendors that were in attendance included Wegmans, The Cheesy Chick, Enchanted Catering, Platter’s Chocolates, Premier, Illio DiPaolo’s, and Berrafato’s Catering, among others. 

Also present at the event was Community Beer Works, who premiered a signature, private-label Aspire of WNY beer that showcases “Candy Tree,” a piece created by iXpress artist Laurie P. Supporters were asked to vote for their favorite piece of art created by the iXpress program, and the piece that received the most votes was featured on the label of the can. Congrats Laurie!

Later into the evening, attendees’ attention was directed to the stage, thanks to Buffalo Bandits Bagpipe player Alex Stugis, for a live auction in which bids could be placed on three different original iXpress pieces: Beasts from the East, Let’s Go Buffalo, and Land Meets Sea. RJ from Auctioneers International conducted the auction via fast talk, naming prices until all three iXpress pieces were auctioned off to be brought home that night by their respective bidders. 

Attendees of the event were also given the opportunity to sponsor an iXpress artist. Three different levels of sponsorship were offered, including the Monet level sponsorship, the Van Gough level sponsorship, and the Andy Warhol level sponsorship. The Monet level sponsorship helps bring an artist’s vision to life by providing supplies, the Van Gough level sponsorship helps to provide transportation, supplies, and programming, and the Andy Warhol level sponsorship would sponsor an iXpress artist for an entire year. If you are still interested in sponsoring an iXpress artist, you can do so by visiting the following webpage:

“iXpress is such a great program for so many of our individuals; they’re given so many different opportunities to be able to express themselves through the art of all kinds,” explains Amy Holdnack, Coordinator of Aspire of WNY’s Day Services and iXpress Program. 

“The Art and Wine celebration is a really exciting time because it allows our community to come together and celebrate the artists from our program and the achievements they’ve made in the past year,” says Renee Filip, President and CEO of Aspire of WNY. 

“I don’t think that the night could’ve gone any better,” explains Megan Rechin, Vice President of Communications and Growth Opportunities at Aspire of WNY. “Art and Wine is such an amazing reminder of how much love and support this community can offer. Everyone had so much fun coming together to recognize the iXpress artists.”

This fun and vibrant event was only made possible by the help of our amazing sponsors who support Aspire of WNY. Sponsors include Corebridge Financial, NCA Comp, Keller Technologies, Parkview Health Services, Toshiba, eVero Corporation, M&T Bank, Tri-Main, Bond, Shoeneck & King, Barclay Damon LLP, Jennifer Ball & Jamie McLellan, Mary Anne Coombe, P&A Group, USI Insurance, Key Bank, Hover Networks, and Bonadio.

Our iXpress program is an expressive arts program for people with developmental disabilities. It includes all forms of artistic expression, from painting, clay sculpting, and writing to acting, singing, playing musical instruments, and photography. Participants are led through an artistic process designed to fuel personal inspiration, improve communication skills, and develop a stronger sense of self. iXpress reinforces that participants are, first and foremost, artists who happen to be challenged with a disability.