Last Saturday’s Galleon Trade: Ship Launch was my first time helping to organize an art auction.
(I don’t know how to say this without sounding hokey, but: I try to savor when I have a first experience with anything; it’s a way to watch myself grow and to acknowledge the adventures within my daily life. It’s a lesson I learned while traveling abroad, and have tried to bring home.)
I’ve donated work to many auctions before, and I always admired how professional and enjoyable Intersection for the Arts’ auctions are. Their attention to detail—white gloves on the art handlers, very clear roles and responsibilities, a detached wrapping area—provided an example I sought to emulate.
I also learned a lot from the dedication and professionalism of certain individuals. Jenifer Wofford, an artist, educator and friend who initiated Galleon Trade and was the mastermind behind Ship Launch, worked night and day for weeks to tie up a gazillion loose ends, from the location, to handling media inquiries, to collecting the art, to serving as point-person for internal communications, to asking for help and delegating tasks. She even made the mango salsa. Her family was like a battalion of support, unloading tables and chairs on the front lines and unleashing wave after wave of delicacies like adobo skewers throughout the evening; her beau Rick was like a rock that I think all of the Galleon Traders leaned on for his professionalism, competence and manpower. The one thing I forgot to do was to toast Wofford’s dedication and leadership.
I also got to work with Mike Arcega, an artist whose fabrication and installation skills inspire me to raise the bar for myself. He and I worked on many aspects of the auction implementation together. First, with the help of Rick, we swept the 20×50’ gallery room. It wasn’t that the floor was bumpy – there was no floor. It was just unfinished concrete. Hence the Kleen Sweep. Sweeping felt more like digging a hole with a broom; the more we swept, the more dust filled the air and made us look like we were going gray in our hair.
By mid-day, we filled a garbage bag with at least 50 pounds of dust. This is one more of those idiosyncratic behind-the-scenes moments of being an artist. It’s not the stereotypical schmoozing-at-an-opening scene or the musing painterly looking-and-thinking pose. I could feel my lungs feel grody, but I appreciated the fact of knowing what needed to be done and making it happen. It’s really a blessing to be surrounded by energetic, capable people.
Despite starting at 10 am, we couldn’t have finished installation without Stephanie Syjuco’s help. And there would be no auction without the generosity of 40 artists who donated work, among them, my favorites Renee Gertler (who’s in an upcoming group show at Swarm), Stephanie Russell, Erik Scollon, and Mario Ybarra, Jr., a Los Angeles-based artist who I’ve had the pleasure of assisting for the past few weeks during his Capp Street residency at the Wattis Institute. (Keep an eye out for postings about the mural unveiling in September.) I also feel really lucky to be a beneficiary of Amanda Curreri’s and Emily Sevier’s generous spirits; they helped wrap up the artwork in the tight turnaround time (not to mention a very tight corner of the hallway).
Of course, the event would not have been a success without the numerous contributors, too many to list here. Their financial support was really incredible. I’m especially moved, though, by the sense of community that crystallized; people were genuinely interested in Galleon Trade take off, artists bought other artists’ work (because collecting art is a way to support your fellow artists; it’s not just for capital-C collectors), and it was really sweet to see moms and Tias in action in support of a contemporary art project.
Considering that this was a first time for us organizing an auction, I thought the event went really smoothly. The rest of my life has taken a back burner. I’d like to include one more behind-the-scenes look—laundry all over the floor, no time for grocery shopping—and include one more acknowledgement—to the partners and spouses who, despite the financial instability and constant project-driven obsessions, still find a way to love artists: Thank you.