Artist In Recovery Auctions Work For a Good Cause

By Maggie Ethridge 03/26/19

The proceeds of the auction will go to the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition.

artist in recovery painting work for auction

Artist Benjamin Grippo is in recovery and he has found a way to reach out and help others struggling with addiction.

In West Hartford, Grippo founded Artists Against Overdose, reports Eyewitness News. He seeks out artworks by local artists who are willing to part with their creations and to be sold at an annual auction.

The proceeds of the auction go to the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition, which helps people impacted by drug use.

Specifically, Benjamin Grippo wants to make Narcan available to those who cannot afford it. Narcan (which contains naloxone) is a medication that rapidly reverses opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist, which means that it binds to opioid receptors in the brain, reversing and blocking the effects of opioids.

Naloxone is commonly delivered in a shot or nasal spray which first responders, health workers, and laypeople across the U.S. now carry. Public libraries and YMCAs are also being equipped with naloxone, supplied at no cost by the drug maker.

“There should be Narcan in every restaurant, there should be Narcan in every school,” Grippo said.

Benjamin Grippo began using drugs after he was discharged from the army. “I started using more and more regular drugs and more and more a little cocaine, little pain pills here,” Grippo said.

Grippo’s drug use escalated when a friend offered him heroin, and he accepted. “I quickly transitioned to intravenous using,” Grippo said. “I quickly got up to doing more bags at every time because I couldn’t get high off of it.”

Now recovering from his addictions, Grippo wants to use the art auction to both raise money and awareness of the depth and scope of the opioid overdose crisis. Artists Against Overdose educates people about the impacts of drug use.

“This epidemic and this problem is very dark and bleak and a lot of people aren’t living,” Grippo said. “People need to know what’s going [on]. They need to be educated, children need to be educated.”

The auction is on Saturday, March 30, in Hartford, Connecticut. Some of the featured pieces will be artwork by artists who have overdosed and passed away, and include a range of artistic expressions from photography to graffiti and tattoo art.

For more information about the event, to donate or to attend, check out

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Maggie May Ethridge is the author of Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From a Marriage (Shebooks, 2014) and the recently completed novel, Agitate My Heart. She is a freelance writer published in Rolling Stone, VOX, Washington Post, The Guardian and many others. Find her at her blog Flux Capacitor or on LinkedIn or Twitter.