|Artist Matthew Hudson and his expressive photograph of impalas leaping on the Botswana, Africa shore. The lively auction netted big $$ for Visual AID and Academy of Friends. Photo by Rink
The 5th annual live Spring Art Auction hosted by Visual Aid and The Academy of Friends was held on April 20 at the Clift Hotel. Entitled â€śFresh,â€ť it was a lively art auction and fundraiser benefiting Visual Aidâ€™s programs for artists with life-threatening illnesses and the Academy of Friends, helping HIV/AIDS service organizations.
Visual Aid helps produce, present, and preserve the work of visual artists whose careers are challenged because of life-threatening illnesses. Academy of Friends holds several fundraisers a year, with the biggest being the annual Academy Awards gala, raising 100% of proceeds from ticket sales and silent auctions going to 13 different AIDS organizations.
The event began with a preview party featuring the fabulous and funky DJ Christopher B, specialty cocktails, wine and light hors dâ€™oeuvres, followed by a riveting, live art auction of more than 40 works of art donated by well-known local artists, luxury items such as hotel stays, jewelry, and more donated by local merchants. Donations were so numerous that an additional room down the hall was required to house all of them.
Alan Keith, chair of the board for Academy of Friends, welcomed the bidding audience and said how happy AOF was to partner with Visual Aidâ€”both having the same vision and mission of helping people with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses.
The charming and knowledgeable auctioneer, Stephen Tourell of Toomey-Tourell Fine Art, guided bidders through a fun evening of thrilling art sales. He challenged everyone to up their bids and donations.
Sometimes provocative and always exciting, this yearâ€™s artwork selection featured paintings (oils, watercolors, acrylics), sculpture (glass, wood, clay), prints, photographs (gelatin, black & white, and color), and mixed media (on paper, wood, metal) that all ranged â€śfrom cool and delicious to vibrant pop,â€ť according to Julie Blankenship, executive director of Visual Aid. The items were donated by top local artists, collectors, and galleries.
Several pieces stuck out in this reviewerâ€™s mind. There was a 1978 Christopher Street Magazine original cover rendering regarding Prop 6--Briggs vs. gay teachersâ€”where a closet door opened onto a giant red apple with a lambda symbol carved in it. An elegant Erte brooch was carefully housed in glass, as its estimated value was at $3,500. A favorite sculpture artist who continually donates her work to Visual Aid fundraisers is Pam Dernham with her painted steel wire on board, with the wire figures creating additional shadow figures on the beige background; this submission was entitled â€śKeeping Up.â€ť
A box sculpture of hammered, embossed white gold on gessoed wood was particularly opulent. â€śBlack Suede Crinklesâ€ť by Mark Paron were certainly whimsical soft sculptures. Ed Baynardâ€™s â€śVisual Aid VII: Wild Larkspurâ€ť was a 1991 monotype with chine colle. Michael Beck, frequent Visual Aid contributor, displayed his impressive 2002 oil painting, â€śCast from the Temple,â€ť valued at $4,800. â€śUntitled Sex Toy #10â€ť was from the â€śNot for Childrenâ€ť series by Aaron Plant. A very calming piece was â€śValiumâ€ť by Monika Lim, made of resin oil and fabricated plaster with hand-dyed Valium pills and children romping among blue flowers.
Matthew Hudson has been a Visual Aid artist for six years. His dynamic color photo piece, â€śChobeâ€™s Run,â€ť from Chobe National Park in Botswana, had carefully captured a herd of antelope scampering across the horizon. â€śI have come to depend upon Visual Aid,â€ť Hudson told Bay Times. â€śIt gives me the opportunity to explore new work and get my work out to people so they can see it.â€ť He said there was a lion present off to the side that was not pictured, chasing the antelope, which are dramatically silhouetted. Itâ€™s a color image, but it looks like itâ€™s black and whiteâ€”with just a tiny amount of blue as a reflection of the stream. In the background, the water produces a silver effect, giving an overall black and white appearance.Â â€śAny good piece of artwork needs to have the right light,â€ť Hudson said. â€śWith the right light, then you will see a thousand wishes and a hundred dreams.â€ť That could very well have been the theme of the eveningâ€”because the sale of these pieces of art will surely bring many dreams and wishes to come true.