From Bingo nights to fierce performances to raising tens of thousands of dollars for charities, RaeJean Cox (Earl Bunning) made an impression on everyone who saw her.
She died in August after being in a car accident. Now her friends and family are holding a night to honor and remember her through art.
The Box Gallery in West Palm Beach is holding an exhibition of The Paintings of Gil Martin on Thursday, Sept. 16 from 6 - 8 p.m. The featured attraction will be Martin’s bejeweled, mixed-media painting of RaeJean. The work was inspired by Ron Comstock’s iconic photograph of RaeJean in full regalia, representing her as Sun Empress II and Regent Empress of The Imperial Sun Court of All Florida (ISCOAF).
Martin created the work after the accident but before she died. Rolando Chang Barrero, owner of The Box Gallery, says the original idea for the portrait was a “get well soon” gift. “I thought we would auction his portrait and get a few photos, make a few dollars, to be able to send him a big bouquet of flowers for when he woke from the induced coma and he would feel loved and appreciated.” Now the night will honor her memory. “Unfortunately he did not recover, so, I’m just hoping we get enough money from the sale/auction of his portrait to alleviate some of the expenses his family is incurring or as seed money for a special fund in his name.”
The idea honors the way she lived her life. RaeJean worked tirelessly and creatively as ISCOAF Empress. She would literally stop traffic and sell you the dress off her back and donate the money.
“We are so thrilled that a great artist is memorializing our Sun Empress 2 and 3 RaeJean Cox,” Michael Cyrus, ISCOAF’s Emperor, said. “Some lucky supporter of hers will be enjoying this painting for years to come, and remembering the way he made us laugh, cry, and feel important each time we were around him.”
Other items from Martin’s collection being displayed include paintings of other LGBT icons such as Cher, Betty Davis, Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer. Cava will be served and the event is being catered by Chef Jamilette Alvarez. South Florida drag queen icon Big Mama will host the evening.
The Box Gallery is located at 811 Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach.