The popular event supporting the Museum of Art attracted nearly 200 art enthusiasts from all over Santa Barbara County who gathered and schemed, hoping to acquire one-of-a-kind artwork.
“The Women’s Board came up with the idea of Off the Wall, and it’s exciting to see how popular it has become over the last five years,” said Larry Feinberg, Robert and Mercedes Eichholz director and chief executive officer. “What’s unique about this event is that it attracts many artists in the community, and no one gets more excited than the people who attend this event because all of them are so determined to walk home with a certain work of art that they predetermined to be the piece they want.”
The excitement and suspense began to stir early on as guests mingled and enjoyed music, wine and hors d’oeuvres.
By sundown, the stage was set 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.
After guests settled into their seats, the rules of Off the Wall were explained, including 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.
A drawing of names followed the live auction as each participant was granted 30 seconds to call out the number assigned to the artwork of his or her choice.
The evening was filled 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.
From the scores of satisfied expressions on the guests’ 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.
“It gets very emotional during the drawing and everyone has a great time, and the artists are so kind and generous to donate works as they do,” Feinberg said. “Off the Wall has become one of the signature events for the Women’s Board.”
Established in 1951, the board is dedicated to enhancing, preserving and promoting the arts by sponsoring fundraising events for SBMA exhibitions.
“Our sold-out Off the Wall 2016 was a tremendous success,” board president Helene Segal said. “And everyone had a great time and whether ‘the one’ they wanted got away or not, guests were happy to support this critical fundraising event to help the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Women’s Board raise funds for the museum’s exhibitions, acquisitions, education programs and special projects.”
Over the years, the board has donated or provided funds for the purchase of art for the museum’s permanent collection and has unwritten numerous exhibitions.
“I admire the women who donate their time and efforts to the Women’s Board at the museum,” said local artist Nancy Gifford, who was donating her work for the third time to the Off the Wall event. “They work tirelessly to raise funds which help sponsor exhibitions and educational programs, and I am always amazed at their quiet, behind the scenes dedication to supporting the museum.”
Gifford also mentioned new legislation that artists are waiting on for the passage of a law that will provide artists with the ability to deduct the full value of their contributions for charity; currently the tax law only allows them to deduct the cost of materials. Whereas, ironically as the law now stands, someone can purchase art from an artist and donate the same work of art, and get the full deduction.
“It would be a valuable legislation for both charities and artists alike,” Gifford said.
The board also provides direct financial support for several museum education programs, including Art in Motion since 2001, in collaboration with Storyteller Children’s Center.
Currently, the Women’s Board is sponsoring the museum’s 75th Anniversary free Community Day Celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. May 15. It’s also a sponsor of the museum’s current exhibition, “Puja and Piety; Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist Art from the Indian Subcontinent,” which runs through July 31.
Funds raised at the event benefited the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, a nonprofit institution that presents internationally recognized collections and exhibits with a broad array of cultural and educational activities, programs and travel opportunities.
Feinberg also addressed the importance of supporting the arts in Santa Barbara, which fosters higher civic engagement, social cohesion and strengthens the economy.
“Any kind of stimulation of interest in the arts benefits everyone and particularly benefits the museum and it’s education programs,” Feinberg said. “We want a rich artistic creative culture in our community and events such as these help to achieve that goal.”
— Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.