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Stylish VAG fundraiser raises more than $1 million

Featured piece is titled, "10716 135 A Street" by Brian Howell - Image courtesy of the Vancouver Art Gallery

Last Saturday night, some of Vancouver’s finest dressed in their best to help raise over $1 million for the Vancouver Art Gallery at the BLACK/WHITE Art Auction and gala. More than 70 works were auctioned off during this self-described “see-and-be-seen” event. They pulled out all the stops with live music, great food and an overflowing open bar to ensure that this auction would be one for the record books as the VAG is driving hard towards their goal of raising funds for the new art gallery site.

Being in attendance was a blast. For those who couldn’t make it, here are some of our favourite memories from that night, as we saw it.

1. What they wore

After speaking with someone at the VAG and confirming that, apart from the obvious tuxedo, the attire was not strictly black or white, it was fantastic to see Sara Spencer (the designer of decked out in a bright red dress that not only stood out in a sea of black and white but was turning heads all evening long. Everyone looked fabulous and it’s nice to see that: because this auction only happens every two years, people pulled out all the stops, right down to their Prada shoes.

2. Who was in the crowd

Picture “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” mixed with “The Real Housewives of West Van” and throw a few artists and dealers in there for good measure. With notes of Chanel, Hugo Boss and Grey Goose in the air, you knew these folks were here to let their hair down and have a great time. Hats off to the VAG for bringing in the kind of crowd that not only coughed up the $500 ticket price but was also comfortable opening their wallets for a good cause - especially after a few drinks.

3. The art

Some of the biggest names in the Canadian art scene, including Stan Douglas, Geoffrey Farmer and Douglas Coupland, were represented on the auction block. With pieces varying from furniture and sculpture to painting and photography, some of the most notable pieces that sparked interest in the crowd were a paddle from Kodiak Island and a Jeff Wall original. As expected for Vancouver, the works were fairly heavy in photography and Native art and the crowd just loved it.

4. The auction

With the guidance of experienced auctioneer Barry Scott of Maynards, the night got off to a fast start. Frequent cheers from the crowd and enthusiastic paddles kept the auction flowing at a great pace. We saw pieces such as “Park Drive” by Jeff Wall go for $380,000 on an estimate of $100,000 and most others went for well above asking price. You’ve got to love art under the influence of alcohol.

5. The party

The party didn’t stop after the auction. Acrobats and dancers helped lead the crowd from the formal first floor to the live band and party that was about to get started upstairs. The Rodney Graham Band brought some great energy to the dance floor and kept the crowd moving till midnight.

Overall, we give it two thumbs up. The Vancouver Art Gallery knows how to throw a great party. Their elegant theme, BLACK/WHITE, helped set the tone for an unforgettable and stylish evening. The bar has been set for every other charity auction this year. Even though some are still feeling the repercussions of the recession, this event demonstrated that there is money out there to be had for the arts, but you’re going to have to work for it.

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