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The Night Was Made for--and by--the Artists

The organizers of Saturday’s Laguna Art Museum Auction honored those often-unseen people without whom there would be no auction: the artists.

The auction, called “A Night of Celebration,” paid tribute to the more than 500 artists who have contributed works to the annual museum fund-raiser since it began in 1981.

“This is one of my favorite events--the museum makes the artists feel like movie stars,” said Olivia Batchelder, a contributing artist from Laguna Beach.

Confetti as Art

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In the past, auction organizers chose abstract themes such as “Novel Ideas” and “In the Pink,” and sent the artists novels or tubes of pink paint for inspiration. This year, the 164 contributing artists received bags of star confetti--which they could use in their works if they chose.

Judging by the numbers, the auction was a success. More than 400 people paid $75 each to attend. The event raised about $125,000--$25,000 more than expected.

Celebrating All Year Round

In keeping with the “celebration” theme, the buffet tables suggested various holidays, with chips and guacamole dip for Cinco de Mayo and a Stars and Stripes cake that used strawberries and blueberries for the Fourth of July.

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A Creative Crowd

This crowd sported creative duds--everything from cowboy boots and jeans to flowing chiffon skirts and beaded tunics.

“It’s a strange combination of arty and cocktail attire,” said Teri Kennadyco-chairwoman of the auction.

Gifford Myers showed up in a gold lame blazer he called “a hard-fought purchase at a garage sale” and a bow tie printed with a $50 bill.

“Art is money,” explained Myers, the auction commentator.

Green House

For the auction, Myers contributed a miniature house made entirely of greenbacks. The tiny mansion featured pieces of George Washingtons cut up to resemble flagstone. The “tile” around the pool was fashioned from the border of a $5 bill, and the fronds on a palm tree were shaped from the scrollwork on ones and fives. The piece, called “Honey for Money/Frankly Mint Condition,” sold for $4,750.

“It’s really fun to cut up dollar bills,” Myers said.

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More Art

Some artists used the “celebration” theme in their work. Barbara Spring of Big Sur, a longtime auction contributor known for her wood installations, created a wall hanging of three balloons in sculpted wood.

“I tried to make it festive, in keeping with the theme,” Spring said. “I like the idea they include artists in this affair. It brings them out of their isolation.”

Going, Going, Gone

Guests spent the first half of the evening walking through the galleries, writing their names and their bids beside their favorite paintings or sculptures.

A standing-room-only crowd then gathered for the live auction, during which guests flashed numbered cards to bid on the art. Auctioneer Richard File wielded the gavel.

Bente Buck, who attended the auction with her husband, museum trustee Gerald Buck, kept a respectful distance from the bidding, making sure she had her card safely in hand.

“Once I accidentally bid on a painting at a San Francisco auction,” she said. “I was scratching my head with my card, and the painting went up to $48,000. I think it jumped a thousand. Thank God somebody outbid me.”

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The evening’s top-grossing piece of art was a shell-shaped piece of handblown glass by artist Dale Chihuly called “Cadmium Red Orange Seafoam Single With Black Wrap.” It went for $6,500.

Proceeds from the auction will support the museum’s education programs, which reach nearly 100,000 children a year in Orange County. The funds also help pay for an art educator in the Laguna Beach Unified School District. Others attending were auction co-chairwoman Marsha Osborn, Mary Alexander, Debi and Tim Bremner, Jo Ann and Jon Erickson, Nadine Hall and Linda Lund. Artists attending included Antonio Arellanes, Laddie John Dill and Lita Albuquerque.


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