From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Small works make a big difference at 12×12
The unusual art auction raises funds for the nonprofit Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, which supports visual artists living and working in the state.
The Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition takes the adage big things come in small packages to heart every year with its 12×12 Art Fundraiser.
“It’s a big event and the last few years, we’ve had over 1,000 people there. Every year, it keeps growing, and every year, we’re getting more fun with more going on,” said Kelsey Karper, associate director of the coalition, a nonprofit organization that supports visual artists living and working in Oklahoma.
A one-night-only art auction that showcases Oklahoma art, music and food, this year’s 12×12 will start at 7 p.m. Saturday at 50 Penn Place. The coalition’s sole annual fundraiser, it will feature works from 150 state artists, samples from 30 local restaurants and live music from Norman singer/songwriter/musician Penny Hill.
Still, 12×12 isn’t your ordinary art auction. The event’s committee invited Oklahoma artists from the four corners of the state to each contribute one piece to the event.
The catch: Each work must be no larger than 12-inches-by-12-inches, or for three-dimensional pieces, 12 inches high, wide and deep.
“And the artists tend to use all the space we allow them,” Karper said with a laugh. “The committee makes it a point to invite artists who will give us a good variety of styles and media and are representative of the whole state.”
Since the works are relatively small and affordable — bids for each piece begin at $168 — even first-timers can feel comfortable participating in the silent auction.
“It really is a good place for somebody to begin a collection,” Karper said.
Again, there’s a catch: 12×12 isn’t just a silent auction, it’s a blind silent auction.
“People put their bids in an envelope, and they can’t see what others have bid, so you kind of have to strategize and figure out how much you want to bid because you can’t see who’s the highest bidder. So that makes it a little more exciting,” Karper said. “People have a lot of fun with it and occasionally they get very competitive.”
Participants who fall in love with a particular piece and don’t want to risk losing it can opt to pay the “Buy It Now” price and trump the auction.
New this year, attendees also can enter the drawing for five different prize packages that highlight Oklahoma City’s artistic and cultural offerings. The prize packages include a private dinner for eight from chef Kathryn Mathis at the new Chesapeake Finish Line Tower on the Oklahoma River; two tickets to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Art on Tap beer tasting part, plus a night at the Colcord Hotel and dinner at a Good Egg Dining Group restaurant; a glassblowing class for six with a Mustang Brewing Co. beer tasting; a private dinner for six from chef Bo Taylor at the 1007 Rooftop in downtown; and a Plaza District gift package.
Raffle tickets are $5 each, or 25 tickets for $100.
To keep up their strength during the event, participants can sample tasty treats from popular local restaurants specializing in a wide variety of cuisine, including steak, sushi, bistro
fare, pizza, burgers, Mexican food, barbecue and cupcakes.
Last year’s 12×12 raised more than $65,000 through sponsorships and art sales.
“12×12 is an opportunity for individual Oklahomans to directly support working Oklahoma artists, even in times when government support is not always available,” said Margo Shultes von Schlageter, co-chairman of the 12×12 Art Fundraiser committee, in an email. “It is a real chance to give back to the community and see artists produce work as a result of the money raised by 12×12.”
The event raises funds for all the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition’s programs, including grants and business workshops for artists, exhibitions and awards and the coalition’s magazine, Karper said.
In addition, this year’s 12×12 won’t just sell art, it will become part of creating art. Edmond photographer Lori Oden plans to mount 12 pinhole cameras in the venue to create in essence a four-hour time-lapse exposure of the event.
After all, “it’s a good place to see a nice variety of what’s being made by artists right here in Oklahoma,” Karper said.
12×12 Art Fundraiser
When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: 50 Penn Place, 1900 Northwest Expressway.
Tickets: $30 in advance and $35 at the door.
Tickets and information: 879-2400 or www.12x12okc.org.