• Note: To purchase tickets for the following events, visit www.huntermuseum.org. For more information, call 267-0968.
• Friday: Preview Party, featuring reception and viewing of auction items with chief curator and art selection committee. $30.
• Nov. 4: Spectrum Brunch, offering food and drink, including a Bloody Mary bar, and chance to view items in live and silent auctions. $15.
• Nov. 7: Curator's Lunch, a new event featuring a boxed lunch and informative viewing of auction items with chief curator. $12.
• Nov. 10: Spectrum gala: Tickets to auction and gala are sold out, but sealed bids will be accepted. The exhibition may be viewed during the museum's regular business hours Saturday-Nov. 10.
In a room off the gray passageways beneath the Hunter Museum of American Art, registrars Theresa Slowikowski and Elizabeth Le prepare to open a shipment of art.
"I'm so excited to see it," Le exclaims.
"This is the part of our job that's like Christmas," adds Slowikowski. "We get to see everything first."
They run utility knives down the sides of a large flat box, and slowly, carefully lower it to the floor, then begin cutting through swaths of bubble wrap.
"I don't like the clear tape," Slowikowski remarks. "I can't see it."
Once the bubble wrap is clear, they don white cotton gloves, soon removing them upon discovery of a slick polished frame. Slowly, slowly, they raise the frame from the box.
A 57.75- by 74.5-inch painting sits in a light wood frame. A self-portrait of artist Chuck Close, formed from brightly colored graphic squares, stares out.
The Close piece will be featured at the museum's annual Spectrum gala on Nov. 10. Sixty pieces have been placed for silent auction and 37 for the live. The Close work will become a part of the Hunter's permanent collection.
Since 1973, the black-tie gala has been the Hunter's largest fundraising event each year. Mariah Mayfield and Taylor Monen, chairs of the art selection committee visited seven cities, choosing works from a variety of galleries.
According to curator Ellen Simak, after the selection chairs visited galleries and spoke to dealers, the full committee met to determine which works they wanted to bring in for the event.
Committee members, all of whom were volunteers, visited galleries in New Orleans, Charlotte and Asheville, N.C., Charleston, S.C., Atlanta, Nashville and Chattanooga.
Different representatives went to different cities. The representatives, said selection co-chair Taylor Monen, represent a broad range of taste and demographics.
The selections, she said, often come down to the taste of the committee members. "What's really fun is that every year, you can really see the personalities of the committee in the pieces that are brought in. You're always going to bring stuff in that may surprise people. We want it to be fun and fresh."
Contact Holly Leber at email@example.com or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber. Subscribe to her on Facebook at facebook.com/holly.j.leber.