Unique artwork from more than 100 regional artists was displayed at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Women’s Board “Off the Wall” fundraiser held April 20 at the Ridley-Tree Education Center.

Back by popular demand, the third annual event supporting the Museum of Art attracted nearly 200 art enthusiasts from all over Santa Barbara County who gathered at the historic McCormick House hoping to acquire one-of-a-kind artwork.

“‘Off the Wall’ is one of the more creative events that the museum affiliate groups put on, and the Women’s Board has some of the most creative people who really know to have fun,” said Larry Feinberg, SBMA director. “For years they’ve also delighted people with their ‘Mysteries and Masterpiece’ fundraiser, and for the past three years they’ve been doing ‘Off the Wall.’ Each year this event seems to get a little better and a little bigger, and you can see the enthusiasm it generates, and of course it’s a wonderful event that supports the museum and raises money to support our various programs, specifically our education programs.”

The excitement and suspense began to stir as guests mingled and enjoyed music, wine and hors d’oeuvres on the beautifully manicured lawn adjacent to the McCormick House.

By sundown, the gallery was overflowing with newcomers and returning participants eager to partake in a delightful game of chance and luck as they surveyed and selected pieces from an array of artwork that lined the walls, including colorful modern paintings and collages, drawings, ceramics, sculptures and photography by well-known and up-and-coming artists such as Ron Freese, Dorothy Churchill-Johnson, Anne Luther, Rebecca Fraser and Nance Cole.

When the guests settled into their seats, Master of Ceremonies Cecia Hess explained the rules of Off the Wall and how each ticket purchased admitted two people and entitled the ticket holder to one work of art. Names were randomly drawn, and guests selected a work of art “off the wall” to take home.

The evening festivities commenced with a live auction hosted by Ralph Waterhouse, and guests had the option to bid for the first, second, third and fourth pick of artwork.

The first pick came from Tom and Chris Frisina, who set the bar for the evening with a bid of $1,750 for “Home Run” by artist CK Williams. The second pick went to Barbara Ben-Horin, SBMA director of development, who purchased “The Gathering” by Karen Chin. Next, Judy Hopkinson nabbed “Steamers” by artist Janie Pollock, and last but not least, Susan Rose selected “Silver Cloud” by Phoebe Brunner.

Click here to view all the works offered at the 2012 Off the Wall event.

The live auction was followed by the drawing and Hess, taken away by the excitement radiating in the gallery, was all smiles as she plucked names from a large glass vase with each participant granted 30 seconds to call out the number assigned to the artwork of his or her choice.

Local artist Nancy Gifford’s three-dimensional sculptural diptych painting was the first to be chosen in the drawing. “In a Twist and All Tangled Up” were procured by SBMA board member Gwen Baker, who told Noozhawk she had been an admirer of Gifford’s work for years.

“Nancy is so talented, and I could only have hoped to possess these wonderful pieces. I’m so thrilled because these pieces really are me, all tied up and in a twist,” Baker confessed with a smile. “I love them on so many levels, and I’m so very excited to have a piece of Nancy’s work in my home.”

The evening was filed with laughter, bouts of elation and woos of dejection from participants in the audience when sought-after pieces were obtained by another guest and no longer available. But all was not lost, because at the conclusion of the evening guests had an option to purchase the remaining artwork for $300.

From the scores of satisfied expressions on guest faces, carefully holding prized artwork as they departed for home, it was clear that the event was a success and all in attendance indeed had a marvelous time thanks to the goodwill and commitment of the Women’s Board of SBMA.

Established in 1951 and celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the board is made up of more than 100 members dedicated to enhancing, preserving and promoting the arts by sponsoring fundraising events for SBMA exhibitions.

Over the years, the board has donated or provided funds for the purchase of more than 60 works of art for the museum’s permanent collection and has unwritten numerous exhibitions, including last year’s popular exhibition “Picasso and Braque: The Cubist Experiment, 1910-12.”

The board also provides direct financial support for several museum education programs, such as:

» Art in Motion — a hands-on creative art program in collaboration with the Storyteller Children’s Center offers activities to homeless or at-risk children and their families.

» Homework/Artwork After School — an after-school program that provides free homework and art activities to students from Adelante, Franklin and Cleveland elementary schools.

» PAL After School Art Program — a partnership with the Police Activities League that engages more than 100 fifth-graders in the creation and enjoyment of art inspired by artwork within the museum’s permanent collection or special exhibits. Students meet once a week for eight weeks at the museum’s Ridley Tree Education Center at the McCormick House.

The 2012 Off the Wall raised more than $65,000, with all proceeds from the evening benefiting SBMA, a nonprofit institution that presents internationally recognized collections and exhibits with a broad array of cultural and educational activities, programs and travel opportunities.

The Women’s Board of SBMA graciously thanks its sponsors for support of the 2012 Off the Wall event:

» Silver Donor: SBMA Women’s Board of sustaining members

» Bronze Donors: Susan D. Bowey, Susan and Claude Case, Mary Maxwell, Nuveen Investments, Regina and Rick Roney, Tracy and Bruce Stouffer, Gwen and Deanna Major, and Bryant & Son’s Ltd.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at mwalker@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.