Arts and Entertainment

Art will be the star of a glitzy gala

Six works, including this piece by Nancy Sipple, were commissioned for VAA’s annual gala, and will be auctioned off along with 140 other pieces at this year’s auction. - Courtesy Photo
Six works, including this piece by Nancy Sipple, were commissioned for VAA’s annual gala, and will be auctioned off along with 140 other pieces at this year’s auction.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Islanders can slip back in time to the glory days of old Hollywood this weekend when Vashon Allied Arts throws its annual star-studded auction.

The gala, now in its 34th year as a fixture on the Island’s cultural calendar, aims to net more than $100,000 for Vashon Allied Arts, with almost half of that amount slated for VAA’s scholarship program, which helps Islanders with financial need cover the costs of the arts organization’s classes and productions.

The rest of the money will help fund VAA’s overstuffed calendar of events, performances and arts classes.

The scholarship fund is an increasing part of VAA’s budget. Last year, a special “raise the paddle” section of VAA’s auction raised $40,000 for scholarships — a fund that was completely used up by the end of summer.

This year, VAA is hoping to raise $45,000 for scholarships, said Molly Reed, VAA’s executive director. The increase over time has been dramatic, she noted; in 2006, VAA offered $15,000 in scholarships.

“We don’t turn anyone away; everyone gets something. We’re trying to be really accessible,” she said.

This year’s auction theme is “Lights, Camera, Auction,” and silver screen-themed decorations, food and impersonations of Hollywood stars by Island performers will help turn the two evenings into glamorous affairs, organizers hope.

“There are some people who go all out every year and treat it like a costume ball,” Reed said.

More than 140 pieces of locally crafted art will be on the auction block, including colorful paintings, vibrant photography, sculptures, jewelry and more. Works by six specially commissioned artists — Gretchen Hancock, Gus Schairer, Nancy Sipple, Art Hansen, Odin Lonning and Elaine Summers — will grab the spotlight at the auction and are expected to attract some of the most spirited bidding.

A wide range of experiences — including a week-long trip to Palm Springs, weekend getaways to places such as the Methow Valley, Orcas Island and Whidbey Island, dinners at local restaurants and private homes and tickets to sports, theater and music events — are also on the auction block.

Both nights will also include special dinners. On Friday, a buffet called “Some Like It Hot” will be created by Tom French and his students at Vashon High School’s Culinary Arts program. Saturday night will feature a sit-down dinner catered by The Hardware Store Restaurant.

It all sounds glitzy, but according to Reed, the auction plays a large part in helping to meet the basic needs of Island artists.

Each year, she said, VAA pays out approximately $300,000 in commissions to artists,performers and teachers, so some of the money raised at the auction will go back into the pockets of some of the Island’s most creative residents.

“We provide a really consistent opportunity to a whole lot of artists to have an income,” Reed said.

VAA’s core programs include classes and workshops, a summer music festival, a garden tour and an array of dance, drama and music performances throughout the year. The organization also operates the Blue Heron Gallery and the Heron’s Nest, both of which provide exhibition and sales opportunities for local artists.

The organization is also in the midst of a capital campaign to build a $16.5 million dollar new facility at the corner of Vashon Highway and Cemetery Road, but none of the money raised on Friday and Saturday will go to that project.

“This isn’t about the new building,” Reed said. “It’s about keeping the programs going that we have, and keeping this building going. It’s about the organization. The operating funds come first.”


Vashon Allied Arts’ annual auction will be held from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24, in a giant tent at the Blue Heron Arts Center. Tickets for Friday are $45 per person and for Saturday $120 per person. For tickets and information, visit or call 463-5131.


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