One of my favourite things to do over the past few years has been to participate in the MAVERIX STUDIOS ART AUCTIONS. They have all been held to raise money for worthy causes, and the satisfaction in being part of one is many-fold. First of all, they are a fantastic prompt to make some original artwork that has nothing to do whatsoever with working for “the man”. Secondly, they are great social gatherings and gallery shows where I can see artwork made by my friends. Thirdly, If I get my check-book out and wield it wisely and boldy, I get to take home some of that inspiring artwork at bargain prices. Fourthly, they are wonderful ways to raise money for charity and the knowledge that I am part of that process creates a rosy glow that lasts for weeks. Lastly, because of all of the points raised above and more factors besides, they are one hell of a lot of fun to attend.
Initially, the choice of beneficiary charities for each auction, and the ensuing preparations, were made by Maverix Studios members themselves, but recently Maverix has been approached by friends to host auctions for charities that they have some connection to. Enrico Casarosa instigated the EMERGENCY auction held earlier this year and this most recent auction was initiated by Esther Pearl and Nate Stanton, and then organised by them and Maverix to raise money for the Alzheimers Association. Amazingly, the preparations for this show were done in a mere 4 weeks and yet the auction raised a staggering $13,842.
You just got walked on by Maverix Studios
Maybe as much as $6,000 of that total was raised in the live-auction. A Maverix Studios auction is silent for most of the 3 hours, whereby bidders write down their bids beneath each art piece. However, Maverix reserves the right to pull a few of the most contested pieces off the wall and use them in the live auction BIG BID BATTLE at the end of the night. So, even though you’ve secured the winning bid on paper, you may be obliged to battle it out even further LIVE. As auctioneer MIKE MURNANE hilariously explained to the first such thwarted paper-bidder, “You thought you’d already won this piece but you just got WALKED ON by Maverix Studios.” Thereafter followed a series of cut-throat bid battles.
The drama and hilarity of the BIG BID BATTLES has become one of my favourite parts of these auctions, and a large part of the reason for that fact is the MIGHTY MIKE MURNANE. Mikey is a natural born button pusher and his skills at goading are nowhere put to better use than at these events. He surely gouged another several thou out of the crowd last Saturday. It is also fitting that Mike be the auctioneer at these shows, seeing as how he was the beneficiary of the very first Maverix Auction held in 2004, to raise money for his eye surgery.
Bidding for FULL QUENCH
I had it in mind to finally secure myself a Rhode Montijo original. Even though I had won a Rhode painting at the very first Maverix auction, I soon after gave that painting to Mike as a gift and have been in dire need of replacement Rhode pic ever since. However, this time around, there a was a giddy frenzy of bidding the likes of which I’d not seen before. I bid on a SWEET Rhode piece in the live auction, battling one-on-one with Bosco, each of us topping each other’s bid by $25, until the price was almost $200 more than the paper bid, which had been held by Bosco. Then Ronnie del Carmen blind-sided BOTH of us; he jacked the bidding up by $75 to $500 (which was my secret top price) and secured the pic for himself!
Ronnie’s bold bidding strategy got a huge round of applause, from Bosco and I no less than anyone else, and I think his boldness set the tone for bids to come, because thereafter bidders really pulled out all the stops. Luis battled Vaughn neck and neck for Patrick Awa’s GUITAR WOLF piece and, with the bidding at around the $750 mark, Luis blew the opposition away by bidding $1000, to a HUGE cheer from the assembled crowd.
Brenda Chapman made the room gasp as she bid against a woman called JUDY, taking the bids from $400 all the way up to the dizzy heights of $3,500, for a beautiful painting by Steve Purcell, who sadly wasn’t there in person and therefore missed out on the massive ego-stoke of seeing two women fighting over him so passionately. The crowd loved the theatre of this battle, and Brenda had a huge smile on her face as the victor, even though she wound up paying a few thousand more for a picture she’d already won on paper.
I have to point out here that even these “high” prices are actually bargains for the quality of the work on auction. A mere fraction of what you would pay at a gallery.
Thwarted for a good cause
Last time I walked home with a huge swag of goodies, whereas this time I was beat out on most of the stuff I bid on. I was tipped to be one of the people to pull the bid-sheets off the wall, and in doing so I wasn’t as able to defend my bids on a few pieces elsewhere in the room, and the last 5 minutes are everything in the silent bidding. However, I was able to win a great print by Sho Murase, and I was very happy with the fact that my donated pieces raised a lot more money than any of my submissions to prior auctions.
Plus, even though I was denied in gaining many of the things that I had wanted, I was happy in the knowledge that I was thwarted for a good cause and my bids had at least forced someone else to pay some extra money to charity in order to be the winner. There are no sad faces at the end of a Maverix Studios auction. And if there was any sense of having to lick my wounds, I took that vibe with me to Mitchell’s Ice Cream and instead licked a chocolate dipped Mexican Chocolate Ice cream, served in a chocolate waffle cone.
(thanks to Carlos, Rhode and Ronnie for the photos seen here).
If you like the idea of this kind of auction but don’t live in the Bay Area, then why not organise an art-auction charity fundraiser for the holiday season this year? Scoop up some of the holiday purchasing budget in your community for a good cause, and walk away with some great artwork that you can give to friends and family over the gift giving season!
A chronology of the Maverix Studios Auctions:
#1. AUGUST 19TH, 2004: For the Love of MIKE: $6000 raised for Mike Murnane’s eye surgery.
#2. FEBRUARY 4TH 2005: TSUNAMI RELIEF: $22,955.60 raised for the victims of the Asian Tsunami, with donations given to UNICEF, HABITAT FOR HUMANITY and SAVE THE CHILDREN. Participation by 80 artists who donated 220 pieces sold at the auction night and on a follow-up Ebay auction.
#3. NOVEMBER 17TH, 2005. HEAL: $9000 raised for the CHARLOTTE MAXWELL COMPLEMENTARY CLINIC.
#4. DECEMBER 15TH, 2005. EARTHQUAKE RELIEF: $12,000 raised for the victims of the Earthquake in Pakistan and Kashmir, with donations given to the PAKISTAN RED CRESCENT SOCIETY and DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS.
Over $40,000 was raised in 2005 at 3 auctions, and perhaps due to exhaustion there was an auction hiatus in 2006.
#5. MAY 20TH, 2007. EMERGENCY: $13,003 raised for LIFE SUPPORT FOR CIVILIAN WAR VICTIMS
#6. SEPTEMBER 29TH, 2007. $13,842 raised for the ALZHEIMERS SOCIETY.