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|'Cancer beatdown' benefit is Saturday for artist Deb Link|
|Written by Sandy Hackenmueller|
|Wednesday, 15 August 2012 20:43|
This Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis, a benefit will be held for artist Debra Link as she plans to knock out brain cancer like an MMA fighter.
Who is Debra Link? You may not recognize Deb by her warm, friendly smile, but you no doubt will recognize her through her paintings. For the past three years, she has been creating portraits of local MMA fighters that have been auctioned off at SEG events during intermissions. The proceeds from the auctions are donated to Have a Heart, Inc., which is a supportive home care program for children and adults with special needs.
You may have seen the paintings — Debra has painted recognizable fighters like Mike Richman, Travis Reddinger and Brock Larson. Bids have finalized anywhere from a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand dollars. Paintings hang in homes of fighters, fans and on the walls of gyms.
Link has been painting for 40 years. "When I was 12 years old, all I wanted to do was paint," Link said. "I knew it was my passion because it took over my life."
Link studied at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, as well as at the Atelier Wicker-Howell in Minneapolis. She specializes in portraiture and enjoys working from both photographs and life. "Pastels are my favorite medium," she said. "However for most of the MMA portraits, I have been using oil paints and acrylics."
Link's first painting of a fighter was of Mike "The Marine" Richman. "His dad ordered a 16x20 portrait of Mike as a gift for him," said Link. "That was three years ago. Since then, I have done 12 MMA portraits.
"The hardest thing about fighter portraits is trying to get the portraits to look like real combat fighting. My favorite portrait out of all of them is the one of Brock Larson vs. Eric Davila for the Target Center event in 2011."
Although Link's recent focus has been creating artwork for the MMA community, she is a seasoned artist in other realms as well. Her portfolio boasts portraits of celebrities such as Larry The Cable Guy, Jay Leno, Carrie Underwood, Big & Rich, Toby Keith and Taylor Swift — a list that just scratches the surface.
"The first portrait I did was a gift for Charlie Daniels. It was a portrait on a turtle shell of his favorite album, Fire on the Mountain," said Link. "Then I did a buffalo skull for Daniels, and he put both in his museum in Nashville."
Her talent has not gone unnoticed or under-appreciated. Both Larry The Cable Guy and Charlie Daniels have sent autographed items for various charitable auctions, including for Link's benefit this Saturday.
Two years ago, Link was given the news that she had matastatic breast cancer. "I fought it with chemotherapy, and it went into remission," said Link. "A year later, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. I recently had surgery for this cancer and I'm currently recovering."
Bills have been accruing at a rapid pace as Link battles her cancer. Friend and benefit organizer Ron Kastalbakken considered having the MMA community support a benefit, in honor of all that she has done for MMA and charity.
"Right now we have many donations in the form of autographed MMA gloves, shorts, shirts, towels, etc," said Kastalbakken. "We also have a signed hat from Larry the Cable Guy. Another big item is a poster from the world heavyweight championship bout featuring Dos Santos vs. Mir. All of the fighters on that card have autographed the poster."
Many familiar names have donated items to this auction, from Tieva, Compton and Bradley to Volkmann, Larson, the Richman brothers and Veal.
Unfortunately, Link will not be able to attend the benefit and witness the coming together of the community in her name. She is currently staying at Fairview Riverside Hospital for treatment for the next 2-3 weeks. Many of Link's family members will be in attendance, however, including sister Linda LoCascio and daughter Cassie Ayers Linnell.
Don't miss this opportunity to support Debra Link in her courageous battle against brain cancer.
The Cancer Beatdown Benefit is being held at the Hyatt Hotel in Minneapolis, 1300 Nicollett Mall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and general admission is $35.
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