VAA’s 32nd auction showcases 140 works

Nancy Foster-Moss and Molly Reed promise a good party. - Elizabeth Shepherd/staff photo
Nancy Foster-Moss and Molly Reed promise a good party.
— image credit: Elizabeth Shepherd/staff photo

Vashon Allied Arts staffers and volunteers are working around the clock in the countdown before an annual art auction that not only treats Vashon’s arts community to two raucous nights of celebration but also celebrates the bounty of work created by local artists.

The auction, an Island tradition now in its 32nd year, will take place on Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, inside a giant tent erected in the parking lot of the Blue Heron Art Center.

More than 140 works, most by Islanders, will be on the auction block, as well as a long list of extravagant experiences, including travel, dining and entertainment packages.

“It’s the best party of the year, but what it’s really all about is supporting the arts on the Island,” said Molly Reed, VAA’s executive director, as she surveyed the Blue Heron’s Gallery, pointing out colorful paintings, whimsical sculptures, colorful photographs and other works that will be auctioned this weekend.

The auction’s theme — “Art ... and All that Jazz” — will harken back to the exuberant boom times of the 1920s, but Reed explained that this year, VAA had taken special consideration in planning the event in light of the current economic climate.

“We put together an incredible show, with a very reasonable price range,” she said, adding that approximately 50 pieces in the live auction were priced between $200 and $500 and that many pieces in the event’s silent auction would be priced lower than that.

Reed said she hoped this year’s auction would raise $100,000 for operating support and scholarship programs for VAA — the same amount that was netted at last year’s auction, which took place a few days after the collapse of Wall Street.

At the time, Reed said she was “filled with gratitude” for the community’s response to the 2008 auction, and now, she wants people to understand that the need for support of VAA’s programs is as crucial as ever.

Reed said that when she began her tenure at VAA in 2006, the organization provided $15,000 in financial aid to students who otherwise would not have been able to enroll in art, dance and music classes at VAA.

This year, the organization doled out $40,000 in such scholarships, thanks to the success of last year’s auction and an additional grant Reed secured especially for that purpose.

“Our demand for scholarships has skyrocketed,” she said.

Reed is counting on raising $35,000 for scholarships at this weekend’s auction.

“We want people to know that we care about their children,” she said. “We want this place to be for everyone.”

Reed also emphasized the role that VAA plays in supporting the many artists and performers who call Vashon home, noting that the organization disburses approximately $300,000 each year to pay artists, teachers and performers.

VAA’s art education programs include more than 150 classes annually, as well as outreach to local teachers and students through a popular “Artists in Schools” program.

The organization is also gearing up to inaugurate a new program — a lecture series that will bring acclaimed artists, writers, museum directors, book artists and conductors to Vashon. (See story, page 14.)

Other core VAA programs include a summer music festival, a garden tour and a jam-packed schedule 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.

In addition to all this, VAA has recently embarked on an ambitious plan to build a multi-milllion dollar new arts campus on the corner of Vashon Highway and Cemetery Road — a plan that includes constructing a new performing and visual arts facility as well as extensive renovations to the 96-year-old Blue Heron Art Center building.

While VAA recently won a highly coveted $1 million grant from Washington’s Building for the Arts program for this expansion, Reed explained that none of that money can be accessed until VAA raises additional funds specifically earmarked for the project.

None of the funds raised “Art ... and All that Jazz” will go to the expansion project, either.

Instead, Reed said, the emphasis will be on raising money to continue doing what VAA has always done — providing a pillar of support to the Island’s art community.

“It’s about the artists,” she said, gesturing to the art that filled every nook and cranny of the Blue Heron. “You can come to the auction and see it all in one place.”

Vashon Allied Arts’ auction will be held at the Blue Heron Art Center from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. Both evenings will include entertainment by Island performers Kevin Joyce, Arlette Moody, Steffon Moody, David Godsey and Janet McAlpin.

Friday night tickets, $45, include a speakeasy buffet, dinner and beverages.

Saturday night tickets are $120 for an individual or $1,200 for a table for 10 and include a multi-course gourmet dinner, beverages, champagne and a gift for each guest.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 463-5131. Proxy bidding is also available for those unable to attend.

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