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Valley Art cigar-box fundraiser to defray cost of cancer treatments for Forest Grove artist Helvi Smith.

NEWS-TIMES/HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Artists turned cigar boxes into Smokin Hot Art Boxes, which will be on display at Valley Art in Forest Grove on Saturday, June 17.No rules, regulations, or small print inhibited artists participating in Valley Arts Gallery's latest project. The Smokin' Hot Art Show came into being courtesy of a group of local artists who banded together in an effort to raise money for one of their very own, Helvi Smith.

Smith, a well-known self taught painter in the community, was diagnosed with leukemia about a year ago. On the road to her recovery, a young man was able to donate some of his bone marrow to aid in Smith's battle against the form of cancer.

"Helvi's doing pretty well now," said Valley Art education chair Jeanne Levy. "She's in remission, and she's got a good start from the transplant." COURTESY PHOTO - Artist Helvi Smith works in her studio.

The malignant progressive disease causes bone marrow and other blood-forming organs to produce increased numbers of immature or abnormal leukocytes. These suppress the production of normal blood cells, but the transplant aims to replace unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy ones. The procedure can lead to some pretty big medical bills.

The idea for the fundraiser came to fruition when someone donated a bunch of old, empty cigar boxes to the gallery. Artists came to pick up the cigar boxes, and then were free to do whatever they pleased with them. The result was a variety of finished pieces ranging from acrylic to mixed media and beyond.

NEWS-TIMES/HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Artist Jeanne Levy used tiny LED lights to light up her fairy box."Valley Art carries a lot of Helvi's art," said Levy. "A Framer's Touch recently did a fundraiser to give proceeds to her, and we thought it would be a really good idea to give back to her as well."

On Saturday, June 17, the gallery will host a special reception where people can walk inside and look around see the conclusion to the month-and-a-half long undertaking.

"If they see something they like, they can buy it, we'll be discussing the process, and what went into making these," said Levy.

Three of the artists who donated finished boxes are from out of state — California, Colorado and Arizona — they'll be represented by photos of themselves and short biographies, so those interested can learn a little more about them.

There are 13 boxes in total, and each will cost a flat fee of $50.

Levy and company hope the reception will inspire the community to help Smith. The Green Cab, which was formed by Smith in 2012, is a group of artists that network, make, show and sell art and support each other by promoting the works of one another.

The Portland-based group made up of diverse and fun painters was inspired by the Blue Rider group (Der Blaue Reiter), a group of artists that united in rejection of the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (Munich New Artist's Association) in Germany in the early 1900s, which ultimately led to the first German modernist recession regarded as a forerunner for modern art in 20th century Germany.

Smith also has her very own gallery in Forest Grove at 1914 Elm St. If there's a sign out front that reads "The Studio/Gallery is OPEN," then the curious are welcome to step inside and say hello. Her art can also be found at Sixth Street Arts & Gifts, HUBBUB and Off the Walls Gallery, which are all located in Washington state.

NEWS-TIMES/HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: KATHY FULLER - Cigar boxes take on a new personality when filled with knick-knacks."We brought together a lot of artists who don't usually see each other for this occasion," said Levy. "It's a good feeling to help Helvi, because she's boosted projects from other artists, and she does so much for everyone here."

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