KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Jan. 27, 2011) — On June 4, the Kansas City Art Institute will transform its campus at 4415 Warwick Blvd. into an art gallery to host its eighth biennial art and design auction. The festivities begin at 6 p.m., and proceeds benefit the college’s student scholarship fund.
More than 200 works of art by KCAI faculty and alumni will be offered for sale in silent and live auctions, along with a number of 20th and 21st century design pieces acquired with assistance from local design and architecture firms.
New this year will be an Emerging Artists Exhibition and Sale. Donations from KCAI alumni who graduated between 1996 and 2010 are eligible for inclusion in this exhibition, which is being curated by Julián Zugazagoitia, CEO and director of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
“I have come to admire the great artistic talent of those from the Kansas City community, and by participating as a curator for the Emerging Artists Exhibition and Sale I will have a chance to see first-hand the talents of many,” Zugazagoitia said.
Pam and Gary Gradinger are honorary chairs for the event. Gary Gradinger served for many years as a trustee of the college, including three years as chair of the board of trustees. Pam Gradinger has been active in the auxiliaries that support the college. She is a former chair of the Vanderslice Kitchens and Homes Tour, which raised money for the upkeep of historic Vanderslice Hall, the college’s main administrative building.
The Kansas City-based architecture firm el dorado inc., led by David Dowell, AIA, is chairing the event. Founded in 1995, the firm is noted for cost-effective, climate-appropriate design, handling commissions for private homes and the adaptive reuse of commercial buildings. In 2008, the Architectural League of New York chose the firm as one of its “Emerging Voices” and the Kansas City chapter of the American Institute of Architects named it Firm of the Year.
“We are thrilled that el dorado has taken this leadership role in our major fundraising event of the year,” said Kathleen Collins, president of KCAI. “With their interest in sustainability and their innovative approach to architecture and design, they are a perfect fit for us and are taking the auction to a new level of creativity and innovation.”
Collins said the silent auctions will include a variety of special auction packages, such as travel and dining opportunities, in addition to art and design objects. She noted that the event will include open bars, a gourmet dinner, entertainment and art-making demonstrations by KCAI students.
“We tell people to come for the party and stay for the art,” she said. “The food is always wonderful, and people have a great time. They enjoy poring over the auction catalog and selecting the works of art they can’t live without. It will be a memorable and fun experience for all.”
In what has become a highlight of every KCAI auction, two student-designed sculptures will be unveiled and offered for sale. The works were selected in a competition among KCAI students and are being fabricated by the A. Zahner Company, a Kansas City-based firm that is internationally renowned for its expertise in the use of architectural metals. This year’s sculptures were designed by Wen-Dan Lin, a junior majoring in ceramics at KCAI, and Skye Livingston, a junior majoring in fiber.
This is the third time the student sculpture competition has been a part of the KCAI Art and Design Auction. Collins noted that the idea originated with a L. William Zahner, CEO and president of the firm and chair of the KCAI board of trustees.
“Bill Zahner came to us with the idea for a sculpture competition seven or eight years ago and worked with Michael Wickerson, chair of the sculpture department, to launch the competition prior to the 2005 Art and Design Auction,” Collins said. “Our students rose to the challenge he set before them and have been elated to work with a world-renowned firm in bringing the chosen concepts to fruition. It’s been a winning situation for everyone: Bill has told me the students inspire his employees; the students learn from every aspect of the process; and the pieces have added excitement to the auction while bringing in significant dollars for student scholarships. We are so grateful to Bill Zahner and his team for making all of this possible for the college.”
Held every other year, the auction raises funds for student scholarships. Collins said more than 95 percent of students who attend KCAI receive financial aid.
“By increasing the accessibility of an education at the Kansas City Art Institute, the college can effectively compete for the best and brightest students from across the country,” said Collins. General admission tickets are available at $125 per ticket and up. “Young guest” tickets (age 35 and under) are available for $100.
In addition to the honorary chair and event co-chairs listed above, the volunteer leadership for the event includes patron solicitation chairs Steve Metzler and Bill Zahner, both of whom are trustees of the college; patron party chairs Tom and Mary Lou Brous (the latter is a trustee and 1982 design alumna of the college), former trustee David Hughes, Rick Powell and Josh Shelton; alumni co-chairs Cyan Meeks (’95 photo/video), Eric Sall (’99 painting) and Rachel Hayes (’99 fiber); faculty co-chairs John Ferry, special assistant professor of illustration, and George Timock, professor of ceramics; design items co-chairs Dan Maginn and Douglas Stockman; special packages chair Kathy Aron Dowell; ambiance chair David Dowell; new friends chairs Richard and Mary Wetzel; volunteer chair Patrick Robichaud; and finance chair Hal Brent.
The Kansas City Art Institute is a private, independent four-year college of art and design awarding the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with majors in animation, art history, ceramics, digital filmmaking, digital media, fiber, graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and studio art with an emphasis on creative writing. The college also offers certificate programs in Community Arts and Service Learning and in Asian Studies for students enrolled in the B.F.A. program. KCAI hosts “Current Perspectives,” a free public lecture series; free exhibitions at the H&R Block Artspace gallery; and evening, weekend and summer classes in art, design, multimedia studies and desktop publishing for children, youth and adults. Founded in 1885, KCAI is Kansas City’s oldest arts organization. For more information, visit KCAI on the Web at www.kcai.edu.
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