The annual Silent 10×10 Name Auction is underway at the Art Base in Basalt. Featuring works by 128 Roaring Fork Valley artists, this year’s silent auction show is open to the general public through Friday; online auctions will remain open until the Art Base fundraiser on Saturday evening.
Party ticket holders will have the last opportunity to view the auction works in person at the Art Base from 5-6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The festivities will then continue at the Parc des Lions from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a catered dinner, a program on the educational offer of the Art Base and a paddle lift. Additionally, there will also be a presentation of the Melva Bucksbaum Dedication to the Arts Award – this year’s recipient of the award is local artist and teacher Teresa Booth Brown, the first recipient since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the eighth year for the Art Base, which has held its annual fundraising show in the form of a silent auction. This means that participating artists donate their 10×10 works anonymously. This is an important aspect of the event: bidders do not know the name of the artist on whom they can bid.
Removing a name tag allows for another kind of visual experience, in which the viewer must engage with the art itself – rather than being consciously or even unconsciously inclined to choose a work because it is associated with a particular artist.
Art Base executive director Skye Skinner addressed this concept of anonymity in a prepared statement, writing that “the name ‘Invisible’ is an important part.”
“It inspires viewers and bidders to select art for art’s sake,” Skinner said. “Choosing art that stands out, rather than because it is associated with a particular artist.”
The Art Base’s “Name Unseen” silent auction has become a community tradition over the years. Many members of the community come to see the exhibition and try to guess the artists behind the works. Lots of guesswork chatter took place at the auction’s public opening reception, held Aug. 5 at the gallery.
Many artists will in turn try to create pieces for auction that do not fall within their most typical or recognizable practices. Other artists will make a piece that aligns with their known style and technique, taking the opportunity to advance their own work and see how the bidders respond to it without a name.
Speaking to one of this year’s participating artists – whose name cannot be released due to the nature of the silent auction – she explained how people approach their artwork for the silent auction. in all sorts of ways. Regardless, she said each of the artists who submitted work did so for the right reasons.
“This is a very important time for the Art Base,” she said. “What I want to feel good about is just that it was a successful community project and people are going to see the show or watching it online and making offers.”
The artist mentioned that this is her second year of donating a piece for the silent auction, and having seen and experienced the shows years before her participation, she finds it an intriguing and engaging to conduct an all around auction – from the perspective of a community member looking at the diversity of works hung along the walls of the Art Base, to that of an artist creating the work to be experienced anonymously.
“I think it’s very unusual to do an auction like this as part of their biggest fundraiser of the year,” she said. “But I think when you have something like that – where you don’t have a name and you don’t have to read the label – you’re focused on the art, you know, you can just smell it. You you can just let it seep into you and really experience each piece.
She spoke of the existence of historical precedent for anonymous work and no-name labels in the art world in general, and praised the Art Base’s execution of this concept as “accessible, interesting , intimate and playful”.
“Everyone who comes to see the artwork is in some way an authority – it’s not like they know who the artist is or it’s not like someone can point to a piece and say: “Oh, that person is a great artist,” she said. “You know, they decide for themselves who’s great for them or what sets them apart, and I like that democratic aspect.”
The “10×10 Name Unseen Silent Auction” show is available at the Art Base until Friday, leading up to the final private preview event on Saturday. Unlike previous years, the pre-party cocktail at the gallery is not open to the public and is restricted to event ticket holders. The silent auction will then end for the online auction at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. To browse and bid on 10×10 works or to purchase tickets to the annual fundraiser, visit theartbase.org.