Last night I attended the 13th annual InLiquid Silent Auction Benefit at the Crane Arts building’s Icebox space. Although with more felt fedoras, bow-ties and ironic mustaches in attendance than was strictly necessary (seriously, it was like a Hipster factory exploded), it was a fun evening hob-nobbing with fellow Philly artists and collectors.
As you can see from the photos, the event was well attended. I estimate at least 500 people filled the 5,000 square foot icebox space, as well as the front room and foyer areas.
The silent auction included hundreds of pieces of artwork, and included every kind of media you can think of. Also included were dozens of non-artwork lots, like photography services, theatre tickets, museum membership packages and dining certificates for local restaurants.
Although I was slightly disappointed in the overall quality of the artwork on display/up for bids (it seems as though the benefit represents to some artists an opportunity to clear out their studio of old, unsold work), there were some standouts.
The venerable Old City gallerist Larry Becker curated a mini-exhibit in one corner, with artworks by artists his gallery represents. It was the one corner where the paintings and drawings had enough room to breathe, and it avoided the claustrophobic feel of the rest of the icebox space.
Sadly, I found Darla Jackson’s tiny birthday bunny sculpture mere seconds after bidding on it closed. The final bidder got it for less than half its retail value.
The paintings on offer were a mixed-bag; everything from trite student-generated fare (or so it seemed) to pieces by well-known artists like Odili Donald Odita and Stuart Shils. It seemed to me that only the most expensive works went unsold, which is not surprising considering that the room seemed to be filled mostly with artists and not the elite collectors they were hoping to attract.
The work shown above by Clarissa Shanahan generated bids up to $450, while her larger piece below went unsold; its opening bid was $1,000. (Contact the artist if interested.)
To the left of the Crane’s foyer (opposite the main attraction), one could pose for a free large-format instant photograph—part of an ongoing project by The Impossible Project, which is a concern that makes film and equipment of the type discontinued by Polaroid in recent years. Full of light streaks and smears, the finished prints had the charm of an ancient daguerreotype. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, each subject wasn’t given much time, nor coached by the photographer into an interesting pose. As such, I found it far more interesting meeting the individuals waiting to be photographed than looking at the finished photos. They included a lesbian couple, a dwarf, a drag queen, several bohemian artists, a transvestite and even some rather normal-looking people. The photos of the event will be posted on the project’s website, according to the photographer.
Nearly everybody who’s anybody in the Philadelphia art world was present, and it was easy to tell the participating artists from everyone else since they’d all been branded with golden “A” stickers (oh, how I wished they were scarlet letter A’s instead!) I ran into people I hadn’t seen in ages, like sculptor-ceramicist/Crane-building-owner Nicholas Kripal, and printmaker/painter Cynthia Back. I almost didn’t recognize Philadelphia Sculpture Gymnasts Gus and Darla Jackson in their finery, and I had a nice long talk about large-scale public sculptures with Kate Kaman and Joel Erland. Artist Anthony Vega, and his wife Aiden (from The Barnes Foundation) were there, as were numerous other assorted local characters, drag queens, fashionistas and promenaders.
Perhaps InLiquid should rename this benefit Art for the Not-So-Cash-Poor or Art for the Extremely Rich, since their other annual event is so well known as a place to pick up interesting art for less than $200. It seems last night’s benefit attracted too many of the same crowd, and not enough people that can afford more. The only item I noticed that went above its listed value was a gift certificate to Sabrina’s that went for $45—$5 more than the face value. (But hey, their stuffed french toast really is worth more than the price on the menu!) All that means is that if you were there to collect art while supporting a great local arts organization, you had the opportunity to get some awesome deals. As for the rest of you, where were you? At the Barnes Foundation’s Young Professionals event, I suspect.