I’ll Be Your Mirror

The Dayton Visual Arts Center’s Annual Art Auction

By Shayna V. McConville
Photo: Richard Mantia, Bridge to Maussane, 2012, acrylic on canvas

 Every April, Daytonians celebrate the city’s most talented artists in one of the most fun events of the season. Several hundred artists, collectors and art enthusiasts mingle over food, drink and artwork in downtown Dayton, all to support the Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC) and the local creative economy. Now in its 19th year, the auction is established as a destination for experiencing the best of Dayton’s art scene.

This year’s auction features 118 artworks by local artists. “Good food, adult beverages and art. What more could a person want,” said audience member Linda Lombard. A long time supporter of DVAC, Lombard has attended the auction every year since its beginning. “There seem to be auctions at almost every event, but there is nothing like the DVAC auction,” she said. “Regional working artists provide an amazing array of art in almost every medium. The number of works and the quality are not matched at any other auction event.”

The Dayton Visual Arts Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the region’s visual arts community. Eva Buttacavoli, DVAC’s executive director, is excited about the quality and diversity of the artwork. “The work is stunning this year,” she said. Buttacavoli handpicked several of the donated works during studio visits with contributing artists. “There is always something new to see, something fresh and creative,” she said.

Pat Antonick, an artist known for her sculptures and textiles, was unsure of which piece to donate. Through a studio visit, Buttacavoli was able to recommend an artwork that would offer a fresh perspective to the auction audience. The selected artwork is an acrylic painting of flat abstracted forms, striking in its perspective, geometry and mid-range palette. “It was stunning. The palette is very fresh, but what struck me most of all is that people know Pat’s work – large-scale quilts and found object sculptures – but this was so different that it will excite and surprise people who know her work,” Buttacavoli said.

Emerging and established artists contributed a variety of media, subject matter and price ranges. Stand-out works are plentiful and include a fiery red landscape by Pam Adams with an opening bid of $120, a paper sculpture by Yasue Sakoaka starting at $60, a bronze necklace featuring an abstract red stone pendant by David Brand at $210, a color collage of a levitating log cabin over a river by Jud Yalkut at $180 and an acrylic painting of geometric forms by John Laird opening at $60. These pieces, along with approximately 100 more, will be a part of the event’s silent auction, taking place all night.

Buttacavoli emphasized the quality of the artists participating. “These are professional, hardworking artists in our community that are continuously honing their skills through attending workshops, classes, residencies, networking and continuing a dialogue about their artwork with other artists,” she said. These skills are further developed at the auction, in which participating artists reach an audience of over 600 viewers and buyers, network with collectors and fellow artists and get feedback on their artwork.

One of the most entertaining and adrenaline-pumping parts of the evening is the live auction. This year’s event features a dozen works, including a dense floral charcoal drawing by Jennifer Rosengarten, a glass piece by Thomas Chapman, mixed-media works by Amy Deal, Ron Hundt and Aka Pereyma, prints by Kazuko Radtke and Katherine Kadish, oil paintings by M.B. Hopkins and Beth Duke, a wood piece Tom Keen and acrylic paintings by Richard Mantia and Betsie Molinsky.

Dayton-area artist Jean Koeller has been involved with DVAC since its inception in 1991 and has participated in the auction almost every year since. “I feel like the auction is one time that a lot of people come out and see artists work. It’s a good event and it’s growing,” she said. “There is a certain quality of work that is always there.”

Koeller, whose numerous commissions, group shows, presence in private and public collections, artist awards and her commercial gallery representation has established her as a significant regional artist, is an advocate for DVAC and the opportunities it has given her. “I believe in DVAC’s mission,” she said. “DVAC is artist-centric and is invested in working with artists; that shows in the quality of the work.” Koeller also has seen DVAC help her career. “I’ve gotten opportunities through DVAC…They keep my name out there – I don’t know how else to do that without them,” she said. “I appreciate DVAC keeping artists motivated and supported.” Koeller’s contribution each year is a way to express her gratitude and keep the organization’s support for artists going strong.

The auction is an event open to everyone, including those who have not previously collected art or those intimidated by the bidding experience. To ensure all guests have a positive experience, the DVAC staff are organizing a series of lead-up educational events as well as training a team of volunteers whose expertise will be available during the auction. Approximately 70 volunteers will be on hand throughout the space, and the silent auction will have dedicated volunteers with a deep knowledge of the artists and the artwork available to answer questions and help navigate the process of participating.

Rich Barker, a photographer living in downtown Dayton and an auction volunteer, became active in the Dayton Visual Arts Center a year ago when DVAC, Rosewood Arts Center and the Springfield Museum of Art presented a series of artist development talks titled Getting in the Game. Barker and his partner, Rachel Dillabaugh, have been volunteering at DVAC since. “It opened our eyes,” he said. “We were just making art for ourselves and then we realized that we could make a career out of it and be a part of a larger artists community; I didn’t realize that was an option.” He has benefited from connecting with other artists, buyers and being more involved in Dayton’s creative community. Barker has made relationships with other art organizations and now participates in events with the Dayton Circus Collective and assists in managing the darkroom at Rosewood Arts Centre. “We like giving back to the community and promoting local artists,” he said.

DVAC’s mission is to support artists and their community in the region. Most artists chose to donate their proceeds to DVAC, choosing to support the nonprofit. “This is our family – it’s a mutually supportive relationship,” she said. DVAC operates on a modest budget, a majority of which is allocated to programming and exhibitions for local artists; essentially, proceeds from the auction cycle right back into supporting the artists. Every dollar counts, and even the artworks that fetch a modest price – a deal for the lucky winning audience member – still have a huge impact on DVAC’s future health. “Let me tell you how far we can make $200 go!” said Buttacavoli.

Koeller, who has gallery representation and a strong collector base, has seen her work go for less than it would in a commercial environment. “It’s hard to predict how much something will sell for; you have to let go. It’s important for DVAC, and it is more funding than they would have otherwise; every little bit counts.”

To gear up for the event, Buttacavoli is leading Art Fitness Training, a guidance session for anyone that would like help easing into having conversations about contemporary artwork. “Art Fitness Training will be a fun, interactive way for people to learn what to look for in a work of art, how to build a collection, how to talk about their art purchase with their friends, how to assess a ‘good’ piece and what value they should put on it – in other words, how to make informed decisions at the auction and get that much more fun out of the event,” Buttacavoli said. The Art Fitness Training is free and takes place on Wednesday, April 24 from 6 – 8 p.m.

Everyone can have an impact on Dayton’s visual arts – whether a donating artist, a buyer or an observer, participation is what sustains Dayton’s legacy and future in the visual arts. For over two decades, the Dayton Visual Arts Center has succeeded in building bridges between artists and the community and the continued success of the annual art auction is proof of these accomplishments. Celebrate Dayton arts on April 26 at the 19th Annual Dayton Visual Arts Center Art Auction or stop by the Dayton Visual Arts Center to preview select auction artworks through April 24. Grab your wallet and make your bid!

The 19th Annual Dayton Visual Arts Center Art Auction takes place on Friday, April 26 at the Ponitz Center at Sinclair Community College, 444 W. Third St. The silent auction begins at 6:30 p.m. and the live auction begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50 for DVAC members or $65 general admission. Visit the Auction Preview exhibition at DVAC through Wednesday, April 24, at 118 N. Jefferson St. in Dayton or visit dvacartauction.com. Call DVAC at 937.224.3822 for more information. 

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