MoNA Art Auction
The fun starts when the bidding begins
What: 29th annual MoNA Art Auction
Where: Museum of Northwest Art, 121 First St., La Conner (and online)
WHEN: Peruse the works in person or online through June 9. Virtual bidding takes place June 10-13. A virtual live auction program happens from 6pm-8pm Sat., June 12
Cost: To register and bid is free
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Have you every visited a museum and wanted to take home a piece of art? Well, you can do just that by taking part in the 29th annual MoNA Art Auction.
The Museum of Northwest Art is well-known for its wide engagement in Skagit County. Beyond the excellent display of exhibits featuring mostly regional artists—which are open to the public free of charge—MoNA’s education outreach offers guided museum tours and in-house art classes to groups of students from Skagit Valley schools.
But MoNA has no endowment. It survives on the enthusiasm of its staff, the generosity of its patrons, and many volunteers (of which I am happy to count myself). MoNA’s annual Art Auction yields the major portion of its operating revenue. As in every year, artists and collectors have donated works for this year’s auction. But even if you don’t intend to bid, until June 9 you can walk among the more than 200 artworks that have been selected and collected for the fundraiser. (You can also take a virtual stroll online.)
The “mascot” of the auction is Linda Okazaki’s “Valley of Love in Birdland.” I counted 20 avian friends in this delightful composition. But who’s the pale, naked viewer in the middle?
Among all this richness is a 1970 aquatint by Mark Tobey, “Thanksgiving Leaf.” Tobey is credited for inspiring the first generation of the “Northwest Mystic” artists, but was also a pioneer of American abstract expressionism (even before Jackson Pollock). And don’t you wonder whether his “white writing” guards, rather than reveals, the inner person?
Larry Heald’s personality lives on in his work. His clever visual puzzles are embellished with loving portraits of nature, and his older brother, Paul, celebrated the delights of geometry in subtle colors.
Maggie Wilder paints many subjects, but my favorite is the mouthwatering “Frida’s Flan” (pictured). In Anne Schreivogl’s work, “Night Out,” it’s the cats who get to enjoy the cherry pie.
The spirit of “Northwest Mystic” Paul Horiuchi hovers here in both Clayton James’s “Homage” (2007) and Michael Kominsky’s “Luna Loca” (2012).
I recently enjoyed the gallery filled with the works of Guemes Island painter Max Benjamin, but one we didn’t see is highlighted here in the energetic “Untitled” (1999). Works by other Skagit “greats” include those by the aforementioned Heald brothers—both of whom are sadly no longer with us—and a very fine painted carving by Kevin Paul.
There’s fresh, new work here too, such as Todd Horton’s oil painting “The Trembling of Flowers.” Humor makes an appearance, as well. Don’t overlook the expression on the lion’s face in Frank Renlie’s “The Crown,” and dark, very poignant wit in “Denial,” by Natalie Niblack.
Until June 9, you can walk through the galleries in person or peruse the works online. On June 10, the fun starts when the bidding begins.