Buy art and booze to save Sunny’s on Mayday

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Monkey Biz (2016), Artist: Duke Riley. Got $1,700 to spare?


Neither time nor the sea nor a lack of funds will shut down Sunny’s Bar in Red Hook if Tone Balzano Johansen, widow of the late great Sunny Balzano, can help it.

Johansen has been fighting hard to keep the old-school Brooklyn holdout in existence since Superstorm Sandy, and now it’s not the waters that are rising against everybody’s favorite former speakeasy, but a monster downpayment. In hopes of raising $65,000 to get a mortgage, Johansen has been raising cash through a series of events she’s been holding at the bar and other locations.

So far, a show at Dumbo’s Superfine in March raised $1,000, a party at Atelier Roquette was also a success, and a total of $34,909 has been raised between the parties, straight donations, and t-shirt and bag swag ($24 for a t, $12 for a tote). Next up on the Save Sunny’s event roster is an art auction this Monday, May 1, 6pm at Sunny’s. (It’ll be mayday in every sense of the word.)

Online bidding has been open for sometime, and Monday will be the final auction.

Some of the art is available for Brokester-friendly prices, like a $35 watercolor and abstract painting “Rabbit Island”. You can also donate your own art to be auctioned off, which counts as giving cash just as much as straight giving cash.

There’s also plenty of way not Brokester-friendly buys, like a lithograph by Duke Riley with a leading bid of $1,500.

When we rang Sunny’s to ask about the “surprise donation items” the fundraising site mentions, Johansen picked up.

Are these largely local artists who’s art you’re auctioning?

Yes they are. Sunny was an artist and I’m an artist and these are our friends that we’ve collected over the years.

Have any of these pieces hung in Sunny’s?

Not previously.

Any hints or clues as to what the surprise donation options will be?

We have some pretty well known artists in the mix now. I don’t know if you know the guy who did the pigeon project last year, his name is Duke Riley. He’s a really well known artist, and I have a really beautiful, valuable print that he donated. It’s a lithograph.

Paul Jacobsen, Steve Skollar, if you look up those artists it’ll blow your mind
Garry Nichols. He’s a longtime friend and he’s been very instrumental in putting this together

It’s such a cool group of people. They just represent that wild strain of culture we’ve been breeding down here. It’s so exciting. Exciting people, exciting art.

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