'Stimulating' changes for art exhibition

Laguna Art Museum has revamped its annual auction into a curated, specialized tour de force.

"Art Auction = Stimulus," featuring works by new and established California artists, will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 10. A preview of the exhibition will be on view at the museum from Feb. 5 through 9; images of the pieces are also available on the museum's Web site, www.lagunaartmuseum.org.

"We've created a whole new auction this year," Museum Director Bolton Colburn said. "We had to change our schedule dramatically this past year with our events, so it gave us the opportunity to create a whole new auction with a new group of artists, and we chose to focus on five different genres."

The five styles on display at the museum are: Surf Art, Juxtapoz Aesthetic, Representation Now, Cutting Edge and Plein Air Today.

Auctioneer Chuck Dreyer will preside, and a buffet by Cedar Creek Inn and complimentary drinks by Young's Market Company will be available, along with curbside valet parking.

"In the past, the museum's had an annual art auction that usually occurred in October, and that auction was based on a rotating list of something like 500 artists," Colburn said.

About 300 people attend the annual event, with a majority of the buying done by a core group of collectors. Artists can opt to receive up to 30% of the auction price back to cover their costs, Colburn said, although many choose not to receive anything back.

About $60,000 to $80,000 is raised for the museum's exhibition and educational programs each year through the auction, Colburn said.

"I think this auction has particularly high production values, which I think our collecting community will respond to," Colburn said. "Not only that, but the quality of the art is extra high, and I think our collecting community will be extremely pleased. I think the community will feel that we're ratcheting up as far as the overall quality of the auction."

Former chief curator Tyler Stallings, who sent out the invitations to participants, has one of his own works up for auction: "Vamps," a watercolor of a torn-up Polaroid, was made in 2006 and is listed at $4,000 retail.

Many of the artists invited to submit works for auction were culled from previous and future shows like "OsCene 2006" and "East Coast/ West Coast and Beyond: Colin Campbell Cooper, American Impressionist."

Others, like Wendell Gladstone, had no previous relationship with the museum but were selected by Stallings himself.

Gladstone, a 30-something Los Angeles-based artist, was invited by Stallings after he purchased one of his works at a Museum of Contemporary Art auction.

He submitted "Plastic Skull, Real Tears," a small acrylic painting.

Gladstone said that the auction process evokes a variety of emotions.

"It's good in the sense that you like to help support the museum, but it's a little nerve-wracking from the ego standpoint, in that you hope it goes well," he said.

Artist Mary Younakof, whose print "Our Lady of Grace" will be her first piece ever to be auctioned, concurs.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what happens, but it's just a little bit scary," she said. "In a way, it might be nice to be incognito, so you can melt into the crowd and just watch the spectators."

She is also excited that her work will be sold along with that of more established, celebrated California artists.

Artist Paul Paiement first got involved after a solo show at the museum in 2005. The piece he submitted for last year's auction sold for double the opening bid; this year, he has submitted an egg tempera painting from his "Hybrid" series.

"The museum is a really good service to the community, so I felt it was really important to support it," he said.

Admission to the 2007 auction is $175 per person; reservations are available at www.lagunaartmuseum.org or at (949) 494-8971, ext. 88.

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