ARCHIVE: Please Bring Our Pinky Home

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(First published on Red Bank oRBit March 19, 2009)

By TOM CHESEK

In an interview we did a few years ago for a local publication, Red Bank artist Andrea “Pinky” Adubato confessed that she only truly realized her artistic calling when she suffered a fall from a ladder, in the middle of doing some decorative painting on a local home.

“I was laying there on the ground, when God — God or the Universe, whatever you want to call it — spoke to me and gave me a message,” the lifelong Red Banker explained.

“The message was this: why are you painting stupid houses, when you have so much to give to the world?”

It’s a fun story from a genuine character who’s described her artistic talents as “a frickin’ gift” — an artistic vision that’s extended to her house and her unmistakable Pinkymobile, a cherry-red Hyundai festooned with her own paintings of people’s pets. But the anecdote is a sobering one when taken in the context of the news from Albuquerque, where Pinky continues to recuperate after sustaining an incomplete spinal cord injury while hiking in New Mexico.

According to Pinky’s husband Gene Goellner, the accident occurred last October 30 near one of the hot springs outside Santa Fe. Pinky has been in New Mexico ever since, hospitalized at first in the UNM University Hospital, then at the Loveless Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque. Since New Year’s Eve, Pinky has been under outpatient care at her daughter Holly’s Albuquerque home, where she’s expected to remain for several more weeks.

While Pinky continues her program of physical therapy and her family maintains a blog about her recent experiences (her chihuahua Reggie has also made the trip out to NM to help speed the recovery process), a group of local friends has been busy organizing a special fundraising event to be held on April 2 in Sea Bright — an event, subtitled “There’s No Place Like Home,” that’s dedicated to assisting her continued recovery programs and bringing her to a condition in which she can be transported back to New Jersey.

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One of the artist’s distinctive pet portraits, painted by Pinky for thousands of pet owners across the region.

Reached at home in Red Bank, where he stopped briefly over the weekend before heading back out west, Goellner explained that his wife is still about three to four months away from a point at which doctors can assess with some confidence her long-term chances — and for the near future, the prospect of moving her a couple of thousand miles away remains “complicated.”.

GenePinky“Every case of spinal cord injury is as individual as the person who has it,” said Goellner. “But I’ve talked to the doctors, and I’d say that they’re eighty to ninety percent sure that she’ll be able to walk again.”

Asked if his wife has been able to sketch or paint as part of her therapy, Goellner allows that “she’s got a lot of strength in her arms, but her hands are still in bad shape.”

“She is drawing — we’re taping charcoals to her fingers, but it’s not yet the way it used to be.”

“Still, you can’t kill her spirit,” says Goellner in reference to his wife’s determination in confronting her setbacks. “Maybe there’s a purpose here — who knows?’

Back home in Monmouth County, where Pinky’s friends Lori SchoenigSarina Tuand Paul Fleming are heading the effort to organize the April fundraiser inside MerriMakers at Water’s Edge in Sea Bright, word is being put out that a deadline of Wednesday, March 25 has been set to reserve table space at the party.

The benefit is slated to feature a display and sale of art and photography from Pinky’s fellow local creatives, along with multiple auctions, music, light food and wine, and a cash-for-gold setup in which participating jewelers will donate ten percent of their proceeds to Pinky.

“What these dear friends have put together for us is just marvelous,” says a clearly impressed Gene Goellner. “The outpouring of affection for Pinky has been stunning.”

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