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Well my peeps, put away those glass- covered, framed, mass produced prints you’ve been collecting at retail all these years. YOU can be a “Collecta” now.

If you’d love to start or enhance your art collection with original artwork done in various media, from oils to watercolors to charcoals to sculpture and pastels or photography, or, or, or. . . Then you’d have had a ball with Steven and me this past weekend at the Annual Patrons Art Show in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s a fund raiser for the Art League of Alexandria and it happens each year around President’s Day so start saving those hotel points now! (Above: An art-stuffed viewing room)

Imagine this: For each ticket purchased to the auction (for $175 each), you will be guaranteed one work of art from the auction. Each piece, donated by local artists has to have an appraised value of at least $175. (The marvelous still life I won this year….one of my top picks . . was listed on the artist’s site with a selling price of $950.) 600 artists donated art this year and so only 600 tickets could be sold.

Shown in the photo here stands yours truly. I am in one of the viewing galleries just before closing the night before the auciton. It was the end of a long day of art viewing which is why the gallery was empty….it’s normally packed with people. I’m clutching my list of favorite artwork. On it, I’ve noted, in my preference order, all of my favorites. My fingers are crossed in the hopes that I get one of my top picks of artwork this year.

HOW IT WORKS:

The auction begins promptly at 5pm on a Sunday evening. You may view the art the day before to make a list of your top picks. Once the auction starts – names are drawn from a large spinning drum; the person whose name is called stands and calls out the number of the piece of artwork they’d like. (The crowd may groan with disappointment that a favorite of theirs was just taken.) That’s pretty much how the night gallops on. If you call out a number of a piece of artwork that has already been taken. . . you’ll be get a loud boo from the crowd…these Alexandrians are serious! Thus, you must keep up and pay close attention, crossing off artwork pieces as they get chosen by the people whose names are drawn before yours. I know this sounds like pressure, but as they say – “you must suffer for your art.”

What are the odds of getting something you love? My name was about the 175th name called – (I know this because my pal Peg is a wanna be statistician – she can do calendars in her head; divides weeks by numbers to tell you what day of the week something is occurring – and yes – she keeps a tally of who gets called when at the Art Auction. Go Peg!) I got one of my “A”-list picks this year, (last year too); Steven whose name was called at about 500th (out of a possible 6oo) got one of his “C”-list picks. Had the man consulted with his adoring wife when his name was called, I could have ‘persuaded him’ to call out the number of one of my top picks…a sculpture that had not been selected even so late in the evening. But alas…it was every man for ‘herself’ that night! (Good thing I love my fella. Don’t love the photo he brought home, but this is marriage….)

My point is, the odds are better than you think to come home with something in your top 15-25 picks.. Think about it: if you love abstract art, then you are not competing with all of the still life lovers. I didn’t bid on any photography or folk art and very few abstracts. My eye was more on the oils, a few charcoals and mixed medias, some sculpture and a water color here and there.

Below you’ll see some shots of the auction. It lasts for about 4 hours…thus one must pack food, dress comfortably . . it’s a long ride. But great fun! I hope you’ll join me down there next year. I’ll send out an alert for tickets some time around November/December of 2010. Happy Art!

Photos shown:
1. A portion of the vast Hall where the auction will take place…nice & empty. This is the calm before the storm. Note the taped square on the floor in the photo. That was our seating section. Pretty Glam, no?

2. Our taped down ‘seating signs” Steven made. Our folding chairs will go here where they are handed out.

3.Another photo shows most people seated and ready moments before the auction will begin. Some people can be seen making last minute changes to their preference lists. Note the large screen in the shot showing a piece of art and it’s identifying number. This new-this-year-feature helps to keep wandering minds – like mine – on track. When you call out your piece of art, it is flashed up on the screen.

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