Monday, November 3, 2014

The Art of Conservation Event: Generosity at its finest

By Beth Sullivan

Planning a fund raiser

On October 18th Avalonia launched a first ever art event as a fundraising effort to support the Conservancy’s Bedrock Fund. As with any first ever event, the effort-learning, organizing, changing and rearranging that goes into pulling it off-can be daunting, but this event came together in a wonderful way due to patience, stamina, volunteerism and generosity.
As many might remember, it was planned as a contest, a great idea to get people out onto the preserves, to paint, draw and photograph the beauty they found. These works were expected to be entered into a popular contest with prizes for numerous categories. It was an odd twist to realize people really didn’t seem inspired by competition. What was most wonderful was that artists in all media chose instead, to simply donate their work to support the cause! The event morphed from a contest to a well-stocked auction and sale event instead, and everyone agreed it was ever so much better!
Art, from photographs to prints and quilts could be found in the silent auction.

Teams of volunteers arrived at the Mystic Arts Center at 3 in the afternoon to set up tables and linens, sort out items for each event and plan for the caterers and the bar. There were lovely arrangements of grasses and flowers donated by our greenthumb members.
At the ticket table, volunteers welcomed guests.

A selection of art, prints, photos, some small original works, cards and even jewelry were set up in the lower gallery to be part of the silent auction. In the main gallery larger pieces of original art and lovely photographs were arranged on easels throughout the space. Honestly, the donated art easily rivaled the art on the walls!!
Photograph of the Osprey nest on Paffard Marsh was a popular item.

Volunteers made it happen

Volunteers in teams met guests at the door, gave them programs and explained the plans. Guests had plenty of time to peruse the art in both galleries and enjoy a musical duo and plenty of appetizers. The food was fantastic. Wine, much of which was donated, served to lighten the mood and get folks ready to bid.

Lively auction

The bidding went quite well in the silent auction gallery with several spirited competitions. When the bidding closed there were many happy and satisfied owners of fine art! The live Auction followed and that was fun. Jeff Millen from Ocean Auction House was the auctioneer with assistance from Steve and Maureen. Again, sizes and prices ranged all across the board. Bidding was pretty competitive for several pieces, and prices rose, as they should-all for a great cause. There were two special items, not actually art, but services of professional photographers and naturalists offering guided tours and lessons on Avalonia Preserves, for the purpose of photographing them. Hopefully the lucky bidders on those items will return next year with more of their photographic art to share.
Professional auctioneers made it fun!
The bidding was spirited. 

For a first time event, with truly dedicated and knowledgeable planners and volunteers, it was a success. We have a great deal to be thankful for-our event sponsors, especially Russ Burgess from Charles Schwab who was the gallery sponsor. We had donations of food and wine, music and services. Most importantly we need to thank all the many artists who donated their work to support a cause they believe in.
Before the mad dash, the check team checks their paperwork.

We are already brainstorming to discuss plans for next year’s event. So, it is never too early to start to remind everyone to get outdoors and find your subject. The preserves have great color now and winter can provide opportunities for great images as well. You have a whole year. Look ahead to next fall, think of your art and for sure, plan on attending the event. A good time WAS had by all!
A good time was had by all!

Photographs by Bruce Fellman.

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