On The Town: 2016 Artist Trust Benefit Auction

Sarah Cardoza
Posted on March 03, 2016, 8:00 am
6 mins

Photos by Tiffany Bri

On Saturday February 27, Artist Trust held their Annual Benefit Art Auction while celebrating thirty years of supporting artists. Artist Trust is one of the few organizations that supports artists with grants, resources and training statewide rather than specifically targeting Seattle. The artists with pieces in the auction represented an impressive 43 cities in fifteen counties throughout Washington. The Artist Trust Benefit Auction acts as one of their most important events every year, supplying around 40% of their annual income–supporting the auction essentially supports the artists.

Following the fashion trends of bold colors and flair as well as the organization’s founding in 1986, Artist Trust invited guests to arrive in their best ’80s attire. The crowd was a versatile mix of artists, art patrons and artists who have received support from Artist Trust in the past. The result was an overall supportive community that all agreed on the power and importance of art in a wholesome society.

With artwork displayed along three walls, Fisher Pavilion was a perfectly sized venue for such a large crowd and abundant amount of art. The auction had several big name sponsors including Boeing, Goldman Sachs, Vulcan, Abmeyer + Wood, and Cornish College of the Arts. A curator preview tour of the pieces to be auctioned kicked off the event, led by Lele Barnett and Jennifer Navva Milliken. Guests spent the beginning of the evening admiring the artwork around the room while listening to music by Industrial Revelation, winner of the 2014 Music Genius Award from The Stranger. Artist Elizabeth Gahan, who recently had a collaboration exhibit with Liz Tran on display at Punch Gallery called CHROMATOPIA, designed a backdrop for guests to have their photo taken in front of.

As the silent auctions concluded, guests made their way to their seats in anticipation of the live auction and dinner. Opening remarks were made by Artist Trust Executive Director Shannon Halberstadt and auction co-chairs Len Lewicki and Paula Stokes. Board President Stephanie Ellis-Smith made introductions for artists and other board members to come to the stage to speak. Artist Storme Webber, a recipient of the 2015 James W. Ray Venture Project Awards, gave a beautiful performance of one her poems, “Grace.”

Fellow artist recipient Alison Bremner also took to the stage to thank Artist Trust, and informed the audience of her current work on a totem pole in honor of her grandfather. She began her thank yous in Lingít, the language of the Alaskan tribe Tlingit. Bremner’s speech was charming and inspiring, speaking to the importance of Artist Trust and the platform it has given her to play a part in renewing the art genre of the modern Native. Board member and musician Quinton Morris, who had been spotted earlier rolling around Fisher Pavilion in roller blades, also took the stage. He urged people to understand the importance of this auction, which was particularly powerful coming from not just a board member, but an artist and educator. He emphasized the “symbiotic relationship between artists and the communities in which they live” in order to highlight the deep and long-term results of fostering the arts.

Mayor Ed Murray was also in attendance, along with former mayor Norm Rice and Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak. Mayor Murray took to the microphone to say a few words about the importance of art in a wholesome culture and society. While it may not mean any promises, the political presence was a further inspiration to recognize the importance of the evening as a whole. With that, auctioneer Laura Michalek took over the microphone and the live auction commenced.

Laura Michalek has an undeniably warm demeanor, and the fact that she usually knows most of the room personally makes auctions all the more enjoyable. Everyone laughed as she called specific guests out to bid higher for certain items. The culmination of speeches from prominent figures in Seattle society as well as fellow artists and Artist Trust board members had guests feeling inspired and quite generous. The fundraising goal was not only surpassed but also set a new record for Artist Trust, setting 2016 off to a great start.

VS Photographer Tiffany Bri captured some of the best moments and most interesting people of the evening. Take a look into the gallery below to see how Artist Trust celebrated their 30th anniversary.

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