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Art auction a shot in the arm for Olympians

Stephen Harper's contribution to a April 24, 2012 art auction in support of Canadian Olympians. Harper was sent a large gold maple leaf, which he sent back personalized with his signature and the words Go Canada Go. -Submitted image

Canadians have heard their prime minister at the piano.

Now they get to hang him – on the wall, as a kind of artist.

More than 20 paintings and inspirational words from famous Canadians, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, astronaut Roberta Bondar; broadcasters Peter Mansbridge and George Stroumboulopoulos and Liberal MP Justin Trudeau are among pieces to be auctioned off in aid of Canadian athletes May 2 at The Art of Accomplishment.

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"In the last year we've had a change of focus," said Jane Roos, founder of the money-raising – and distributing – body Can Fund. More than 400 athletes – including gold medalists wrestler Daniel Igali, gymnast Kyle Shewfelt, kayaker Adam van Koeverden and cyclist Lori-Ann Muenzer – have been helped in their bid to get to the Olympics by Can Fund. The organization doesn't just pursue corporations to donate money for athletes.

"Companies can now purchase art for clients and their offices," Roos said. "I'd paint canvases and famous Canadians and athletes would write their thoughts and words on them."

She said Harper was sent a large gold maple leaf, which he sent back personalized with his signature and the words Go Canada Go. Scientist and astronaut Bondar wrote her first words when she left space on her canvas. The words of 85 athletes, describing their Olympic journeys appear on other art works – Kevin Martin's curling rink included their curling calls – and Canadian rowers have contributed 200 hand-painted blades "so that companies can purchase their own stroke of the race," Roos said.

The majority of the works to be auctioned are collaborations. Roos painted the background of the canvas for the celebrity artists to share their words, poems, thoughts, lyrics, recipes, mantras in support of the athletes.

Three original Charles Pachter works, inspired by Terry Fox, are also among the paintings, which will be auctioned along with wine. The auction takes place at Toronto's Ritz Carlton hotel. Pre-bidding takes place between now and May 1, before the paintings are auctioned off in two lots on May 2, by the auction house Ritchies.

Interested buyers should contact Can Fund, 416-487-4442 or, to be added to the event list.

A preview of the paintings will take place Wednesday and Thursday, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Jane Roos Gallery, 108 Berkeley St., Toronto.

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