November 19, 2014

Popular Art Over Easy gala takes place Dec. 5

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Sometimes the view from the sidelines is the best seat in the house – even at an art auction. 

Larry Weatherford, a founding member of the art advisory board for Art Over Easy, a fundraising gala for the School of Art and Design at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said the bidding during the live auction part of the evening can get tense. 

“We offered a piece from Harris Deller (former director of SIU’s School of Art and Design and an artist whose work is sought for private and public collections),” Weatherford said. “His work tends to command higher prices. Glenn Poshard, former president of the SIU system, was bidding, and someone else was bidding against him. He was sitting near the front and he couldn’t see who it was without turning around. I could see who it was, though. He ended up winning the battle, he ended up with the art. The person bidding against him was former SIU Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng.” 

Those who’d like to see the action this year, or join in and come out of it with a work of art, should mark their calendars for Dec. 5. Art Over Easy 10 takes place 7-9:30 p.m. at the Surplus Gallery in The Glove Factory (432 S. Washington Ave., Carbondale), a facility belonging to SIU. Admission is $30 a person. That price provides admission to the art auction and gala, with finger foods, wine and other beverages and music from the Jose Guzman Trio. The proceeds will help match two private grants for scholarships and creative research. 

The event is juried, meaning an outside judge examines all of the work available for purchase and presents awards based on various categories. This year’s juror is SIU alumna Debra Tayes, currently associate curator of fine arts at the Illinois State Museum.  

Buying opportunities come in two main categories for those interested in purchasing art – a silent auction and the live auction. The silent auction is packed with treasures, and the live auction generally features larger pieces or those by well-known artists. All art is donated or contributed by SIU faculty, students, alumni or by community members. Art lovers on a budget can find plenty to like. Art collectors can as well. 

Local art collector James Bourland said the main consideration when buying art should be: Do I like this? With that overall philosophy in mind, it’s not a bad idea, he said, to know the names of area artists and to have an idea how well they are regarded – and paid – in other parts of the country. 

“Several SIU faculty produce art that typically sells into collections,” Bourland said. “However, they will donate work to Art Over Easy, making it possible for people in the area to own art by nationally known artists. Some of our students, too, have gone on to considerable success and their early work was available at Art Over Easy.” 

It’s not just about finding a bargain, Bourland said -- it’s about value. 

“You could go to Hobby Lobby or any interior décor store and spend $100 for wall art. You could go to Art Over Easy and spend $150 for original artwork,” he said. “It’s hard to define art because we all have different opinions about what it is. To me, art is something that drives everything else out of my mind, it captures me -- for the moment at least.” 

Guests also can take their chances with the Art Over Easy eggs. The plastic eggs contain certificates for prizes such as area getaways, goods and services, or, in some cases, cash. 

Weatherford said the social element of the event has been part of it from the beginning – on purpose. 

“The Art Over Easy event has become a real social event and part of the holiday tradition in Carbondale,” Weatherford said.