"Over the Rainbow", encaustic and mixed media on 3 joined panels, 12"H x36"W x 1.75"D, 2008.
Unlike many auctions, at MassArt artists can actually share in the sales revenue, being able to receive up to 50 percent of the sale price. The minimum that can be offered by a prospective buyer for a piece is 50 percent of the price listed by the artist. So if a piece is priced at $3,000, for example, a buyer could offer the $1500 minimum by writing their paddle number in on the sale ticket for the piece. If no one else makes a higher offer before the silent auction closes, the proposed buyer would be able to purchase the piece for $1500. I, as the artist choosing to receive 50 percent of the sale, would receive a check for $750 and the college would gain the other $750. In essence, I have donated $750 to the college.
While it is true that the $750 that I theoretically receive is 50 percent less than I would receive if the piece sold for its real retail value of $3000, I have the benefit of donating to my alma mater and of having extra exposure for my work. I think it's a worthwhile cause and have participated in the auction since I graduated in 1988 - more than 20 years ago. In the past my work didn't always sell, but for the last five or six years it has and for more than the minimum. I consider this a success for me.
I think that the MassArt auction has really improved over the past 8 or 10 years by making several changes:
- Jurying entries, making for a better selection of work
- Raising the minimum offer from one-third of the price (where it was for years) to one-half of the price, making it less of a bargain hunt
- Classing up the event by raising the ticket price and getting everyone to dress up, creating a feeling of art patrons gathering to collect quality work
For as long as I've known about the auction, Karen Keane has presided over the live action. She is CEO of Skinner, a regular participant on Antiques Roadshow and a master of the gavel. I am unable to tell if she will participate this year (note to MassArt: why not have the auction on your alumni site?) but if it's not her, I'm sure it will be someone equally adept.
All the work for sale will soon appear on the auction website and you'll be able to preview and even bid in advance, I believe. So go to the auction, buy my painting (or someone else's), go home happy with your selection after a wonderful night of art, great food, and hobnobbing with the cognoscenti.