Spectrum event to boost Hunter Museum of American Art

Spectrum event to boost Hunter Museum of American Art

October 30th, 2011 by By Ann Nichols/Staff Writer in Life Entertainment


Ellen Simak, Hunter Museum's chief curator of collections, has selected the following six artworks in Spectrum as her favorites.

"Precursor," an acrylic and collage on panel by Jerry La Point. Opening bid: $1,800

"Figure Bearing Light," an ink, paper and thread construction by Lesley Dill. Opening bid: $1,500.

"Hachiya Persimmons," a photograph enhanced with gold leaf, oil pastel, oil paint and resin. Opening bid: $2,200.

"Untitled (Hummingbird Dress)," a digital C-print by Todd Murphy. Opening bid $5,500.

"Dragonfly Box," a tiger maple and walnut construction by James Shott. Opening bid: $450.

"Geraldine, Hottie Stare," a photograph by Jerry Siegel. Opening bid: $900.

The Hunter Museum of American Art held its first Spectrum gala in 1974. Designed to raise funds for the museum's operating budget, the art auction provides Chattanoogans with the opportunity to acquire art from across the United States.

Spectrum 2011, which will go on display Thursday, is composed of 90 artworks acquired from Boston, New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville and Chattanooga. The art selection committee, headed by Don Wright, visited these cities to find pieces in a range of prices that they felt would appeal to the taste of Chattanoogans.

For example, the least expensive item is Andy Farkas' wood engraving "After the Winds Shifted," which has an opening bid of $200. Among the highest- priced works is Todd Murphy's photograph "Untitled (Hummingbird Dress)," which opens at $5,500.

A wide variety of media will be represented in the exhibition. Ellen Simak, chief curator of collections for the Hunter, said that some of her favorite works this year are photographs.

"Todd Murphy's large photograph of a hummingbird dress is mysterious and masterful," said Simak. "We had Murphy's work in Spectrum many years ago, and it's great to see his work in the auction again."

Simak also singled out Susan Goldsmith's altered photograph of persimmons because of its elegance and layers of oil paint, oil pastel, gold leaf and resin that combine to make the work seem to glow from within.

"Jerry Siegel's photograph 'Geraldine, Hottie Stare' is a real character study," added Simak.

Marilyn Center and her son, Austin, served as co-chairmen for Spectrum this year, and her daughter-in-law, Channing, is chairman of the preview party. It appears that having two generations of the same family help organize the event is becoming a tradition.

"Last year, Billy Parker and his wife, daughter and son-in-law headed Spectrum, and it was a huge success," said Austin Center. "The entire Spectrum committee even has a lot of children of past Spectrum committee members involved."

"Having that kind of generational support is great for Spectrum as well as the museum," said Marilyn Center, who has chaired the art selection committee several times.

The Centers mentioned that there are several new components to this year's event. The addition of a preview brunch on Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. will allow new or first-time collectors an opportunity to learn more about the art. Hosted by Avant-art, the Hunter Museum's young, contemporary interest group, the brunch has an admission price of $12.

Also, there will be a number of organizations and non-art-related community groups holding meetings at the museum during the Spectrum exhibition. People can tour the show and leave silent bids on any artworks they may want to purchase.

"There are also some surprises that we have planned for the gala, which we want to keep secret until that evening," said Austin Center.

Spectrum 2011 kicks off Friday with a preview party from 7 to 9 p.m. A reception with food from St. John's Group, Niko's, Cafe on the Corner, Public House, Taziki's, Easy Bistro, Rembrandt's and Gigi's Cupcakes will be provided. Simak and members of the art selection committee will be on hand to discuss the art. Admission is $30, and business attire is appropriate.

The gala will be held on Nov. 12. At 6 p.m., the silent auction of 50 artworks will begin, and cocktails will be available. At 7:45 p.m., a seated dinner catered by Lee Towery will be held. At 9 p.m., dessert will be served, and auctioneer Jim Kennedy will begin the live auction of the remaining 40 pieces in the exhibition.

"Jim knows the Chattanooga community so well and adds such life to the auction," said Austin Center.

Admission to the gala is $175 and includes entrance to the preview party, too. Appropriate dress is black-tie, and valet parking will be available.

"Spectrum is a great opportunity to see art from all over the country," said Marilyn Center. "We would love to see people who can't come to any of the events place a silent bid since you don't have to be present to purchase."

The artworks in Spectrum can be viewed online at www.huntermuseum.org/visit/spectrum-2011.

Advance reservations are required for the gala and can be made by calling 267-0968.

The Hunter, 10 Bluff View, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday; and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday. Admission is $9.95 adults, $4.95 visitors ages 3-17.