George Floyd portrait for auction to benefit Third Ward art space

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's now been more than two months since George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis. Now, two Houston artists have teamed up to auction off a painting in his honor to raise money for an art space in the Third Ward neighborhood where he grew up.

The 18x24 acrylic painting with gold flakes features a portrait of Floyd with the Houston skyline behind him and his final words, "I can't breathe," painted above.

The artwork created by Anamaria Kheveli, also known as Russian Cream Art, is titled "George Floyd Tribute." It's being auctioned off by Peach World, a creative studio collective in Houston.

The proceeds will go to Project Row Houses, which was chosen because of its mission in helping the Third Ward community through art while also helping to preserve the historically Black neighborhood's cultural identity.

"I have always striven to help local artists, not just local but artists all over the world, because through art, that's how we communicate with the community, and that's how our voice is heard -- through art," Kheveli said.

As a Ukrainian immigrant, she said working on the George Floyd Tribute felt personal.

"I came to the United States, and I've been kind of dealing with immigration issues, and I have my own case going on for years, and just kind of seeing that so much inequality and racial discrimination prevail in the United States for centuries, it's just mind boggling," Kheveli said. "I took it very close to my heart, because with all the issues going on in this world with inequality in racial discrimination, it was very important for me to do this piece, so I agreed, and I really put a lot of thought and a lot of effort into this piece."

Peach World founder Wilson Dunn, who commissioned Kheveli, said his late mother also attended the same high school as Floyd in Third Ward, so he felt called to give back to the community.

"The art community was definitely one of the hardest communities hit by COVID with people not being able to go through exhibits and limited social distancing and everything like that," Dunn said. "I thought this would be perfect."

The George Floyd Tribute is up for bid here until Monday at 11:59 p.m.

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