Local arts community mourning benefactor

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Kati Kim gave a unique community of artists, designers and craftspeople a leg up by selling their goods and showing their art in her two stores. Now that community has begun to use its online networking power to support her after the death of her husband, James Kim.

The Kims owned two boutiques in San Francisco, and made a point of selling clothing, crafts and housewares created by local and independent designers and craftspeople. In addition to selling local and independently made goods, the Kim’s Lower Haight clothing store Doe hosts quarterly art shows featuring primarily local artists.

James Kim, 35, was found dead Wednesday after an exhaustive five-day search that included the Monday rescue of Kati Kim, 30, and her two daughters, Penelope, 4, and Sabine, 7 months. He walked off to search for help after the family spent a week stranded in the snowy Klamath Mountains.

Upon hearing the news of James’ death, artists, crafters and designers have started to work together — mostly via the Internet — to send money, gifts and love to Kati and the children.

“She has a lot of the high-end and independent designer clothing in the store but she’s also really into having locally produced goods. That’s something they were both really into,” said Charlie Wright, manager of the Kims’ Church Street Apothecary store.

San Francisco artist Lisa Congdon, who sells headbands, bibs and other items at Doe, has begun to organize an online art auction to raise money for the family. Working with her mother, Gerrie Congdon, and her sister, Stephanie Barnes, both of Portland, Ore., Lisa Congdon used her extensive online network to solicit items to sell.

“A lot of indie artists and craftspeople have blogs, and that’s how we’ve created this community,” Lisa Congdon said. “A lot of people all over the world were following the story through our blogs because initially they weren’t learning about it on their own news.”

When Wright reported the Kims missing on Nov. 28, she posted alerts on Myspace and other online forums. Within hours, those bulletins had been copied and re-posted all over the Internet.

How you can help

To donate items for the auction to help the Kim family, please visit: www.birdinthehand.typepad.com. Monetary donations can be made through the website set up by the family’s friends: www.jamesandkati.com.

amartin@examiner.com

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