Sag Harbor’s David Waksman, the former owner of Hampton Resorts & Hospitality and founder of Bigg Head Costumes, is helping New York City’s famous Greenwich Village Halloween Parade raise some $50,000 by auctioning unique artist-decorated versions of his large, Styrofoam Bigg Head Skull masks this month.
Upon hearing that the NYC Greenwich Village Halloween Parade was in severe financial trouble (mostly as a result of last year’s cancellation due to Superstorm Sandy), Waksman saw an opportunity to help.
He lamented the fact that the parade—a 40-year-old institution—had resorted to setting up a Kickstarter campaign to address its $50,000 deficit. “This tremendous and inspirational event has supported New York’s most creative residents and given them the annual right of free expression one day a year,” Waksman said. “It just didn’t seem possible that it could get cancelled and eliminated from our collective memory just because of one large storm.”
Now listed as a primary sponsor of the parade, Waksman has asked local and NYC artists to put their spin on the Bigg Head Skull masks, which would then be auctioned to raise money for the annual march through Manhattan’s West Village. In addition to being really cool and significant works by artists with a history of gallery sales and a collector following, each decorated skull mask is also a practical wearable piece of art that will be worn at the front of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.
The first of two Bigg Head mask auctions was quickly put together and held on Friday, October 11 at fellow NYC parade supporter Allison Goldenstein’s Allison Eden Gallery on Sullivan Street in Soho. More than 500 people filled the gallery for more than three hours, and many of the 25 individual artist decorated skulls sold for $1,000 or more, bringing Waksman and the parade organizers quite a few steps closer to their goal.
The highest level of interest was shown for the Bigg Head Skull decorated by PJ Linden who created a fantastical colorful dotted look using pink, green and blue puff paint over a black background to create an alien creature effect very similar to the patterns on Stingray leather. Other artists included Marco Art, Rascal, Kevin Charles Newcomb, Howie Keck, Ocean Clark, Jack Laroux, Miho Opal, Oliver Ray, PJ Linden, Sebastian Deregibus, Seong Eun Hong, Ben Copperwheat, Gabriel Shuldiner, David Waksman, Hannah and Evan Waksman, Michael Albert, Elise Dunn, Dezi Ray, Cadman Mendoza, Ryan Kittleson, DJ Roxy Cottontail and Goldenstein, who made a large 3-D colorful mosaic of a Sugar Skull from the Latin celebration Dia de los Muertos.
Waksman’s next Bigg Head auction will feature Hamptons artists, and several already have skulls in the works. He’s still looking to add artists who can work within the short time frame, but Waksman already has several local artists on board, including Eric Ernst, Paton Miller, David Geiser, Kryn Olsen, Karyn Mannix, Jackie Fuchs, Oliver Peterson, Kelly Nelson, Shona Gawronski, Terry Elkins and Sarah Ernst, not to mention his 9-year-old daughter Hannah Waksman and her entire Sag Harbor Elementary class each decorated their own Bigg Head Skulls during one afternoon at the school.
Having owned several hotels and hospitality companies in the Hamptons for 14 years, Mr. Waksman said, “I have worked with many of the art institutions out here on their annual fundraisers.” In spite of the short amount of time left, Waksman recently reached out to his contacts at The Watermill Center, Guild Hall and The Parrish to request their help recruiting more local Hamptons artists for the effort. “We are feeling very confident that this will become an annual event,” he said, noting that the New York auction happened within a 14-day window, but the events would be more organized, and give artists more time in future years.
Bigg Head Costumes is donating 100 percent of the proceeds from artist decorated Bigg Head Skulls and 50 percent of the sales proceeds from up to 1,000 more of their Bigg Head Skulls to the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.
The Bigg Head Skull masks are Waksman’s first design for Bigg Head Costumes. He has since created a second design—the Bigg Head Baseball Cap, which was debuted, and appreciated by Bill Clinton—and this year’s Artists and Writers Softball Game in East Hampton. Visit biggheadcostumes.com or their Facebook page to learn more.
Artists interested in decorating a Bigg Head Skull should email David Waksman at email@example.com.