“Going Once, Going Twice … Gone!”

Dayton Visual Arts Center’s Annual Art Auction

By Meghan Dillon

On Friday, April 27, the Dayton art community will once again descend upon the Dayton Visual Arts Center’s (DVAC) Annual Art Auction. The event brings together Dayton artists, art advocates and art connoisseurs to celebrate the best visual arts the region has to offer. Like past auctions, this year will feature both live and silent bidding with artwork representing a range of media and costs. Auctioneer Doug Sorrell will take care of the live auction, which will have a video feed into the Great Hall. Attendees can bid on silent auction items while enjoying the cash bar, complimentary champagne and entertainment by Michael Bashaw’s Puzzle of Light. The event, in its 19th year, has big shoes to fill. Last year’s event grossed over $84,000. If you’re keeping track, that’s the biggest number yet.

If you’re a little too impatient to wait for the big night, you can enjoy sneak previews of auction works around town now, including at the DVAC Gallery downtown. The DVAC preview is free and open to the public, from 11a.m. to 6p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. In addition to the pieces on view at the gallery, artworks will be featured at several off-site spots including Butter Café, the University of Dayton Office of the President and the DP&L Administrative Offices. The previews at DVAC, Butter Café and UD will be up until April 25, while the artwork at DP&L will only be on display until April 23.

For DVAC though, this isn’t just another annual event like the ARTtoBUY gallery or the Cline Show — it’s the biggest single fundraiser for the gallery, which promotes itself by its mission statement: Art for the community and a community for artists. The auction is an integral part of bringing art to the greater Dayton community while giving regional artists a chance to meet some of their biggest patrons and supporters around town. The longevity of the auction has now managed to impact multiple generations of Daytonians, and has introduced them to living with original works of art on their walls. This year, attendees will have the chance to add more original work to their homes with 108 new pieces up for bid. All of the artwork has been donated by artists well known in Dayton and beyond. “These artists are our members, our family, they’ve supported us throughout the years,” said Eva Buttacavoli, who became Executive Director of DVAC in December of 2011. “So it’s a great gift that they give us by donating a work that we then put up for auction, and the proceeds go towards operations here at DVAC, so then we can then further build resources for artists.” This year’s auction boasts an impressive set of work, including pieces from established artists such as Richard Malogorski, Katherine Kadish and Tom Keen, as well as some up and coming artists working in everything from photography to bronze.

Not surprisingly, it takes an army of about 75 volunteers to put on this event each year, including this year’s auction co-chairs Ashley Krogel and Chip Neilson. What is surprising is the scale of such an event taking place in Dayton.

Not only does the auction draw several hundred attendees each spring to see what area artists have to offer, but those who show up do so expecting only one thing: Art. Such an event might not be so surprising in a larger city like Chicago or New York, but for Dayton to have a fundraiser concentrated on artists living and working in the region says something about its long-term dedication to supporting artists in the region. Buttacavoli seems especially impressed by this as well, herself a Dayton transplant originally from Austin, Texas. “There’s 500 or 600 hundred buyers in one room in Dayton, Ohio at time. You have a chance to be in a room with 500 buyers and 200 artists. Tell me one opportunity there is in the region to do that.” Artists donate work to the auction, knowing well that it’s a chance to support a gallery that supports them. Artist participation is required to fuel the cycle and keep the arts community running in this town. As for the artists, they’re all members of DVAC, and for new up-and-coming artists the event provides a chance to see what to expect as a professional artist.

Year after year, the auction is touted as a must see, must do event in the area, even eliciting praise from Ken Emerick, Individual Artist Grants and Services Director at the Ohio Arts Council. After attending the auction two years ago he reflected, “I was very impressed with the high quality of artwork provided by their members. It was also a very well organized and fun event to attend. Their live auction was very entertaining and really reflected the support and commitment DVAC receives from the Dayton community.” In an email, Emerick went on to highlight the importance of an organization such as DVAC during the other 364 days of the year. “I think they are an important regional artist service organization and gallery assisting artists with all aspects of their careers. Through exhibitions, lectures, workshops and networking opportunities, DVAC is a vital resource to area artists and other arts institutions.”

(Join in supporting DVAC and its community of visual artists by attending the 2012 Dayton Visual Arts Center Auction for yourself on Friday, April 27, starting at 6:30p.m. at Sinclair Community College’s Ponitz Center in downtown Dayton, located on Fourth Street, just west of Perry Street. Free parking is available at the underground garage on Fourth Street. Tickets for the event are $50 for DVAC members and $65 for nonmembers in advance, or $75 at the door. To view work online, purchase pre-sale tickets or place a sealed bid, visit www.daytonvisualarts.org or call (937) 224-3822.)

Reach DCP freelance writer Meghan Dillon at MeghanDillon@daytoncitypaper.com

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