By Gray Chapman
Throngs of Atlantans braved frigid temperatures this past Saturday night to head to Mason Murer Gallery for the Art Papers contemporary art auction, which appeared to be a huge success in spite of the weather. The eleventh year of Art Papers’ beloved annual fundraiser saw a 200% boost in ticket sales, and there was a jam-packed gallery to show for it. The sprawling auction featured countless works of art in a wide spectrum of media and price range from artists both local and international.
The event represents 25-30% of Art Papers’ annual fund raising, and several of the donating artists cited their love for the non-profit publication as reason enough to give their work to the auction. Whitney and Micah Stansell, two local artists who each had a piece in the auction, were grateful for the opportunity to help the magazine. “We just love Art Papers,” said Whitney Stansell, whose ink-on-arches work, “Local Car Wash,” sold for $950. “It was an easy decision – as soon as they asked, we both said ‘of course,’” said Stansell. “We think it’s amazing that they’re here, based in Atlanta. It’s such a respected publication, and it’s here! They do such great work, but they actually still care about Atlanta artists. So we’re thrilled to be a part of what they do.”
Stansell’s husband, Micah, agreed. Micah Stansell’s donated piece was a Duratrans lightbox, titled “Film Stills Series (from A Convolution of Imagined Histories).” The artist-filmmaker described it as “an interesting way to make a video more tangible.” The piece, which was his first lightbox, sold for $650 – over $500 more than the original estimated value.
Artists weren’t the only guests enthusiastic about the artwork. “There’s a lot of great stuff, and everything seems worth bidding on because of the deal,” said Allison Shirreffs, a buyer who was attending the auction for the first time. Shirreffs had just won an encaustic piece by Gwen Wong, titled Rhythm. “I got something with an estimated value of $850 for a little over $400. It really spoke to me and, well, I just wanted it!”
Though it will be weeks before the final numbers are crunched, Art Papers’ Director of Development and Public Relations Shellie Schmals is optimistic about the results. “It was an incredible evening for Art Papers!” said Schmals. “With more than 2500 guests, the atmosphere in the room was electric! We couldn’t be more pleased and we are so appreciative of everyone’s support. From the artists to the patrons, it’s a win-win for us all.”
Gray Hardeman Chapman is a writer living in Atlanta. She interviewed Art Papers’ editor-in-chief Sylvie Fortin prior to this year’s auction.