VAA’s auction helps others find their muse

Janice Mallman, Kathi Jenkins and Molly Reed enjoy of the artwork that will be sold at this weekend’s auction. - Elizabeth Shepherd/Staff Photo
Janice Mallman, Kathi Jenkins and Molly Reed enjoy of the artwork that will be sold at this weekend’s auction.
— image credit: Elizabeth Shepherd/Staff Photo

Vashon Allied Arts gave out almost 100 scholarships for Islanders to take art, dance, music and theater classes at the Blue Heron at free or reduced rates last year.

It’s a program that has seen exponential growth in recent years — expanding from $15,000 worth of scholarships in 2006 to almost $30,000 in 2009. 

And while many recipients have expressed gratitude for the financial help during tough times, for others, it has been a life-changing experience.

“Your scholarship program gave me back my sense of self,” a recent e-mail from an adult scholarship recipient to the Blue Heron staff read. “I used to paint, my father was an artist. I was at a point where I did not remember any of those things about myself, the things I was proud of and loved. ...You helped restore a confidence that I desperately needed.”  

The e-mail deeply touched VAA staff. They’re now eager to spread the news about the scholarship program — in large part because a major opportunity is coming up for Islanders to help fund the popular program. 

This weekend, VAA will hold its 33rd annual art auction and gala — a chance for the community to come together to celebrate the bounty created by local artists and support the most venerable of the Island’s art institutions. In a huge tent set up on the Blue Heron grounds, there will be food, drink and hundreds of items to bid on, as well as a chance for auction-goers to raise their paddles to donate directly to VAA’s scholarship program.

Molly Reed, VAA’s executive director, said she hopes Islanders step up to the challenge. “The demand for scholarships just keeps growing and growing,” she said. “We don’t turn anyone away.”

Reed’s goal is to net $100,000 at the auction, with approximately a third of that money earmarked for scholarships. 

The rest of the money raised will go toward meeting VAA’s $840,000 annual operating budget — a large portion of which loops back into the bank accounts of artists and teachers who live and work on Vashon. According to Reed, VAA pays out approximately $300,000 each year in commissions to artists, performers and teachers. 

VAA’s core programs include classes and workshops, a summer music festival, a garden tour and a dizzying 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 has also embarked on an ambitious, multi-million dollar push to build a new facility at the corner of Vashon Highway and Cemetery Road, but Reed said money raised at the auction won’t go to that project. 

“It’s just for the operating budget,” she explained, adding that money for the new facility will be raised in a separate capital campaign. 

This year’s event is dubbed “Cruise Into the Arts.” Auction Chair Kathi Jenkins said she has high hopes for the affair. “I’m confident and hopeful that people will come and donate,” she said.

Jenkins, an art collector who owns more than 70 works by local artists, said she was especially excited that this year’s auction would include a wide range of experiences as well as art. 

“This year, we have a better balance of art and experiences,” she said. “I think it’s important to come to the table with that for people like me whose walls are already full of Vashon art.”

Experiences on the auction block will include lavish trips, weekend getaways, dinners at local restaurants and private homes and tickets to sports and theater events. 

There are also a number of more unusual items — such as the chance to have movie stars Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon record personalized messages for the winning bidders’ phone answering systems.

Another star-studded item, donated by Silverwood Gallery and artists Ted Kutscher, Eric Heffelfinger, Margaret Tylczak and Ivonne Escobar de Kommer, is dubbed a “glam slam evening of art and artists,” and includes a gourmet progressive dinner and works of art presented to the winning bidder at Silverwood and in the homes of the participating artists.

And, as usual, there will be more than 100 works of art, including colorful paintings, vibrant photography, sculptures, jewelry and much more, all crafted by local artists.

“Each year when we put up this show, people say it is the best one ever,” Reed said. “It’s so incredible to see the range and depth of artistry on this Island. When you come in and see it all in one place, you can’t help but be impressed.”

VAA’s auction will take place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 24 and 25, at the Blue Heron. Tickets are $45 on Friday and $120 on Saturday and can be purchased by calling 463-5131 or at Works by Charlotte Masi, Kristen Reitz Green and Rick Wallace will be auction on Friday; works by Donna Botten, Cory Winn and John Lucas will be offered on Saturday.

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