Its that time of year again. The days are long, the grass smells good after a fresh cut, and the auctioneers are pounding their gavels raising money for various organizations around the country. I have been honored with participating in auctions at many levels from nationally established art centers to the local diabetes foundation. Every time I am asked I have to think about what pieces will best serve the needs of the organization.
Do I play it safe and donate something that I know will sell therefore raising easy money for the organization? Do I pick the high-end pot that looks great in an ad but might sell barely above the reserve if participation isn't stellar? Do I send work that could be shown in other exhibitions garnering more publicity? Do I make work for that specific auction, or send work that I make regularly? Do I decline because it is one more commitment to add to an already busy show schedule? Would the deductions off my taxes benefit me in the long run? All these questions circulate through my head when I receive the invitations in the mail.
The simple answer to most of these questions is that I send what looks the best relative to what I have available. I try to provide the organization with work that best represents my current body of work. Sometimes this means I send work that could be shown in other venues providing more financial stability and publicity. I have found that the benefits I receive within the community far out weigh the financial loss. Its good to remember that auctions are about donating and supporting the organizations that you believe in.
Occasionally financial gain does come from a donation. Last year a pitcher I donated was caught in a bidding war between two participants. The original was sold for almost twice the retail price. The person who didn't win the bid ordered another pitcher from me shortly after auction. This was the perfect scenario. The organization made money, I made money and both customers where happy with the pots they bought.
I will be participating in the Anderson Ranch Auction this year. To see what is available for bidding please click here. There are some great pieces up for bidding this year. Check out these pieces by Josh Deweese, and Seth Green.