Wall Eyes

SVMA's 2009 biennial now a surprise fundraiser


The year is closing in fast, and many institution heads are looking at their accounting books with those sad little faces we don’t like to see on anyone, least of all on the faces leading our favorite art institutions. To combat end-of-year woes, the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is taking an unusual tack and selling about 70 percent, according to SVMA executive director Kate Eilertsen, of those works currently on exhibit for its 2009 Biennial show. Juried by gallerist Susan Cummins, painter and CCA instructor Frances McCormack and Sonoma State University professor Michael Schwager, who is also the head of his institution’s art gallery, the biennial gathered some 48 North Bay artists in a wide-ranging exhibit of local talent.

Biennials offer a chance for midcareer and emerging artists to gain recognition and wall space, and they typically showcase the best a certain field or geographic region has to offer. The artists vie to win prize money, and all receive the honor of being selected by top colleagues for placement. What they almost never do is get their stuff sold right off the exhibition walls.

“We needed to have a fundraiser before the end of the year,” Eilertsen explains, “and many of the artists were interested in selling their work, so we came up with this one-night-only idea. About 70 percent of the work will be for sale.”

Because it was gathered for a biennial, some of the art is on loan or not for sale; for example, second place winner Holly Blake is unable to offer any of her pieces. But first place winner Will Smith (whose work is above), will be able to. And with bids starting at $125, the price is right.

Called “You Gotta Have Art,” this swift fundraiser is slated for Nov. 20, and the de rigueur food, wine and live music will be on tap. Events at SVMA always feature a “signature cocktail” nimbly mixed up by fairly gleeful museum board members with a sweet taste for the glass. “This time it’s limoncello,” Eilertsen says somewhat uncertainly. Informed that it’s a delicious lemon-infused liqueur with a highly flammable alcohol content, she laughs. “I could use one right now and,” she pauses, speaking frankly to the reporter, “so could you.”

Cin cin!

You Gotta Have Art happens on Friday, Nov. 20, from 6:30pm to 9pm. Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, 551 Broadway, Sonoma. $40&–$50. 707.939.1080.

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