Vancouver Art Gallery {Art Auction 2012: Desire}


This past weekend I had the incredible opportunity to work at the annual Vancouver Art Gallery gala, Art Auction 2012. I love working events, and this was an absolute blast! I got to experience a huge, high-profile event first hand in a different country, and witness all aspects of it the day-of. The above image was taken by Melissa Baker of Bake Photography during the live auction that took place in the art gallery.

The event took place between two buildings, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Four Seasons Hotel, which are across the street from each other in downtown Vancouver, B.C. The guests started at the art gallery, having drinks from a full-service bar and mingling while viewing the pieces that were up at the live auction. After their viewing time was over, they were ushered into the auction room where pieces were brought in one at a time and the bidding began. I remained “back stage” during the auction and got to listen and view the ordeal. After a while, it gets tough keeping track of what piece went for what price. Numbers were thrown out like $18,000 and $33,000 and all the way up to $90,000 (at least while I was there). I unfortunetly could not stay for the entire live auction as there were things to be done. However, the photograph in the picture below is by Jeff Wall, and went for $140,000 which was the highest bidding piece of the night.

After the live auction ended, the guests were brought across the street to the Four Seasons hotel where they viewed pieces that were up for bid in the silent auction, were seated at their dinner tables in the ballroom, had drinks at the full-service bar, and entered a raffle to win several thousand dollars worth of Tiffany & Co. jewelry. The rest of the evening was more low-key, as they had dinner, speakers, dessert, announced the winner of the raffle, and then danced to the live band. This year’s auction raised a total of $950,000 where as last year’s auction raised $1.2 million and was the highest in the gallery’s history. The event was overall a great success, even though the monetary goal was not met.

(Photo above: a few guests at the gallery before the live auction, photo taken by Melissa Baker of Bake Photography.) I got to perform a lot of various tasks, as I was not a part of the planning process and was there for one day. I arranged flowers, built and placed centerpieces, put together gift bags with beauty products, placed the menus, hung crystals, removed wrinkles from gold fabric panels, transported vodka, picked up place cards, cleaned vases, transported umbrellas, checked coats, etc. It was very different not being the one in charge of the event. I am used to overseeing things, answering questions, problem solving, dealing with volunteers etc. And this event, I was simply a volunteer, which is something I have not done in quite some time. Before I left, my fiance told me that the adrenaline would kick in, but I realized that just being a volunteer is so much less stressful, less exciting and less exhilarating. Don’t get me wrong, I was still super excited and had a great time! But the overall levels of things were vastly different than had I been running the event. As a volunteer you don’t feel the rush, the time crunch, the frustrations or stress that go along with the event. Being an event coordinator means that you oversee every minute detail, and if something goes wrong, it falls on you. It is a very high stress job. But its a stress I LOVE. I haven’t run an event in several months, and really do genuinely miss that stress, exhilaration and intensity. I live for it.

(Photo above is Samantha Brett, the event specialist at the Vancouver Art Gallery. She is in the ballroom of the Four Seasons before the guests arrived for dinner. This was taken from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Facebook page.) This event was much more high-profile than ones I have done, which makes it more intimidating. In the past, my events have been for normal individuals, no one famous or filthy rich. I have done events in large and small numbers, ranging from 75-350 individuals, with vastly varying budgets. This event had a much higher budget, which was necessary due to the type of attendee. Not to mention raised a significant amount of money! The price to attend the event were as follows:

$500 a person individually or…

$5,000 a table for 10 guests

$10,000 for a premium table seating 10 guests with preferred dinner seating and complimentary valet parking

$25,000 for an ultra premium table seating 10 guests with preferred dinner and live auction seating, complimentary valet parking and a complimentary gift

There were 6 Ultra Premium tables, 6 Premium tables and 8 regular tables.

The complimentary gifts were skin care products from Korres, a natural beauty product company in Athens. Each gift bag was valued at $150. As a thank you for helping all day, I received a gift bag with 3 products in it, valued at $150! (I’m very excited to try them, and will probably do a blog post review of them later.) The tables were gorgeous! The centerpieces were a tall skinny square vase in the middle with these rich red ochids in them (they did not extend the vase like normal, they were cut to be INSIDE the vase), then square vases around the orchid which had hyacinth, hydrangea, tulips and buttons all in white tones. Each vase had black satin ribbon around the top edge. Then amongst the flowers were votives. Each table had gold chargers, and either gold or silver napkins and chairs depending on the type of table it was. The linens for the table (minus the napkins) were a deep rich indigo tone which worked well with the dark/dimmed lights. The room was completely pipe and draped, which was STUNNING! (And I don’t even want to know how expensive!) And behind the stage there were gold fabric panels hanging amongst crystal droplets and strands. They had professional lighting brought in, and hung from the reinforcements in the ceiling, which was fantastic! The lights were LED and mechanical so they had movement and color changes. I think overall my favorite aspect of the event was the ballroom. I love working with details and making things cohesive, and to me everything in the ballroom coming together is the best part. It allows creativity to mesh with the organization. LOVE IT!

Well, I thought I would share with you three of my favorite pieces that were at the auction. All total there were 70 pieces up for sale throughout the night. These are just a few that happened to catch my eye.

This is a piece by Gordon Smith called “untitled,” which is acrylic on canvas. This piece was made in 2011, and is 60″ by 67″ (assuming its in metric system?) This painting was featured in the live auction, and was bought at $90,000.

This piece is by Holger Kalberg, called “Module I” and was made in 2007. It is oil on canvas and sized at 76 1/2″ by 68″. This piece was featured in the live auction, however I do not remember what it went for.

This piece is by Carmelo Sortino, and is called, “Peaches.” It was created in 2000-2001, is oil on canvas and 44″ by 44″. This piece was featured in the silent auction, and I am unaware of the price it went for. This print of it does not do the painting justice. It was gorgeous! The lights and lines were so smooth and breath taking.


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