By Kelly McConomy
Sunday, February 19 marked the 49th fundraiser of 2017 for the Torpedo Factory Art League. Partial auction and fundraising. Both a game and a reality TV show. It’s the moral equivalent of Opening Day in the DMV art scene.
Celebrity guest emcee, radio personality Robb Spewak of Robert Radio and The Mike O’Meara Showstarted the art rave, proving to be an engaging, laugh-out-loud emcee and showman extraordinaire.
Six hours and 650 customers later, with a pause of pregnant and awkward indecision and an outcry of contempt for error or confusion in calling a piece taken, Robb kept the crowd enthralled and ready for more the entire time.
Decisions, decisions: choose wisely; they received praise and applause. But choose PDQ – lest you be bludgeoned with a wandering grape or a Kalamata olive!
At first, staff and volunteers simply held pieces up for auction in Carol-Merrill style, while in later years patrons had to sift through pages of digitally attributed wall-to-ceiling artwork on display in the Art League Gallery space, making complex if/then flowcharts and spreadsheets determining their preferred selections.
Nowadays, the Art Thief app designed by devoted art lover and patron Steve Roberson of Zurka Interactive makes the otherwise elaborate process mind-blowing efficiently and quickly. Hardly a heckling or a harangue to hear.
A rousing round of the wave and standing cheers to gallery director Whitney Steiger with high-five huzzahs to gallery assistants Haven Ashley and Lizzy Lunday for a stellar presentation from the starting lineup.
Saluted by Washingtonian Magazine in the July 2010 issue of Best Bet as Funniest Fundraiser, The Patron Show plays to a sold-out crowd. Each year, the event grows in popularity. The number of tickets sold never exceeds the number of artworks donated. Last month, 650 Patron Tickets were sold to art lovers and savvy collectors, newbies and veterans alike, vying for the first at-bats by selecting award-winning works by eminent painters, printers, photographers, sculptors , textile artists, ceramists, metal and jewelery craftsmen. the ZebraWerder’s own Lillis donated ‘The Hounds’, a great photographic work featuring the Middleburg Hunt foxhounds going in the first round, considered in the arts league a grand slam home run!
680 artists from the region donated works with a minimum value of $225 each. Coupled with accompanying patron ticket sales and post-show merchandise auctions, the event raised over $160,000 to support arts-focused community outreach, artist activities, and the enrichment of the city. Artwork donated by Art League artists, Art League teachers, and Torpedo Factory artists often has a potential value of several thousand dollars. Notable and popular Torpedo Factory artists this year included multi-award winning photorealist and Patron Show favorite Wendy Donohoe, as well as landscape, portrait, abstract and mixed media artists Tory Cowles, Sheep Jones, Marsha Staiger, Betty Grisham, Lisa Schumaier, Mirella Belshe, BJ Anderson, and former Virginia House of Delegates and Torpedo Factory founder Marian Van Landingham. Accomplished women artists, all exceptional in the field, in a league of their own; the heart, soul and cornerstone of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, along with dozens of talented and tireless artists, artisans, staff and volunteers.
Special thanks to the magnanimous Clemente Hall of Fame family for sponsoring the Artist Awards.
Events like this would never be possible without the generous support of local legends and institutions including Chadwick Restaurant, Windmill Homes EYA, and Halt, Buzas, Powell, LTD, Certified Public Accountants and Management Consultants, as well as the Torpedo Factory for in-kind donation of the facility for fundraising.
Crayon on next year’s date: February 18, 2018. Tickets go on sale January 14. the show.
Customers enjoyed the art, which was hung and displayed from ceiling to floor. Photo by Scott MacConomy.
Radio personality Robb Spewak calls out a name. Photo by Scott MacConomy.
The Torpedo Factory was literally jam-packed with enthusiastic patrons. Scott by Scott MacConomy.