Buckham Gallery's 2010 Cool City Art Auction set up. Photo by Todd Onweller.
Article by Theresa Roach

Downtown Flint's Cool City Art Auction could be the solution to the bare white walls of a living room or an art collection that just doesn't feel complete. In either case, it's a fundraiser Flint art organizations hope will generate funds as well as excitement for the arts community.

The spring silent auction sponsored by Financial Plus is a crawl-style event that will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 27th at various locations in downtown Flint. Each location will house the groups that organized the event. Greater Flint Arts Council will be at its home location at 816 S. Saginaw St.; Buckham Fine Arts Project at Buckham Gallery at 134 1/2 W. Second St.; Art at the Market and Flint Handmade at the Capitol Theatre at Harrison and Second streets and Creative Alliance at Churchills Bar & Grill, 340 S. Saginaw St.

"The Cool City Art Auction is not only a fundraiser for the galleries involved, but this event also showcases the amazing creativity hosted by each of these distinct galleries," said Leanne Barkus, Co-Vice President of Art at the Market.

The auction presents an opportunity to purchase fine art at a potentially lower cost than usual. In addition, the event includes local musical acts and catered food and drinks from area restaurants including The Lunch Studio, 501 Bar & Grill and Fandangles.Tickets cost $25 in advance or $30 at the door and can be purchased from any of the groups involved, but choose carefully if you want to support a particular organization because each only takes home the cash they raise themselves.

The art on the walls will express not only the creativity of area artists, but also their generosity. Each art organization involved in the auction has asked artists to donate artwork to the event. The donations allow Cool City Art Auction to become an opportunity for galleries and organizations to make all profit from their art sales.

Throughout the year, nonprofit art organizations like Buckham Gallery rely on fundraisers, memberships, commissions on sales and foundation grants to operate. The Cool City Art Auction accounts for about one-third of Buckham Gallery's annual revenue, said Gallery Manager Jennifer Sikora.

"This year, not only has the gallery pursued a wide range of site sponsors for the event, but we were extremely conscious about determining opening bid amounts," she said. "We expect that these strategies will benefit Buckham in two ways: our site sponsors ensure that this is a successful fundraiser up front, and we hope these aforementioned bid amounts inspire a particularly active auction."

And it's not just traditional art that will be available for bidding. Buckham Gallery will have books and frames available to bid on while Flint Handmade will have gift certificates and handmade items Executive Director Cyrstal Pepperdine says are a "combination of art and practicality."

"In the past [Cool City Art Auction] has been primarily artwork, but it's our goal to introduce the community to craft,” said Pepperdine. "The items we'll have are artistic, but useful—bags, jewelry, home decor and other items that are functional and beautiful and creative."

The silent bidding will start at 5 p.m., with auctions closing at 8 p.m. at Creative Alliance, 8:30 p.m. at Art at the Market and Flint Handmade, 9 p.m. at Buckham Gallery and 9:30 p.m. at the Greater Flint Arts Council.

For those who need parking, the Downtown Development Authority has approved use of the parking lot on the corner of Second and Harrison streets directly across the street from the Capitol Theatre building during the night of the event.

"As a resident of downtown Flint, in addition to working in the downtown area for the past 10 years, my four-year involvement with this event has been like no other I have experienced," said Barkus. "The mere number and eclectic mix of people enjoying the artwork, live music and great food is incredibly exciting. Being a part of this event certainly makes all the hard work of setting up a gallery exhibit from scratch all well worth it. It's a blast."

Flint's Cool City Art Auction takes place from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, March 26. Participating organizations and locations are the Greater Flint Arts Council (816 S. Saginaw St.), Buckham Gallery (134 1/2 W. Second St.), Flint Handmade and Art at the Market at Capitol Theatre (Harrison at Second St.), and Creative Alliance at Churchills (340 South Saginaw St.). Cost is $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

© Theresa Roach, 2010