Online art auction bids help Picton Library ‘Renew’ campaign

County Live

By Sharon Harrison
A packed house checked in Sunday night to check out the Prince Edward County Public Library’s new ‘Time to Renew’ online art auction campaign.

A gala launch party at the Drake Devonshire in Wellington was a prelude to the library’s month-long auction ‘Renew’, the latest major fundraiser for the expansion of the Picton branch.

On display at the Inn were half a dozen examples of the type of art available and a continuous big-screen slide-show of all items in for auction.

Running from April 1-30, the online auction features about 100 curated pieces of art that will go to the highest bidder. The eclectic and extensively-diverse collection of artwork varies from historic and contemporary to whimsical and functional. Paintings, ceramics, bookworks, sculpture, collage, photography, art glass, drawings, fibre art and more at varying price points have been created by many favourite and accomplished local and area artists.

Some of the featured artists include Kato Wake, Annik Despres, Caroline Shuttle, Margaret McFetridge, Caitlin O’Reilly, Stew Jones, Johnny C.Y. Lam, Hannah Melnyk, Gerry Jenkison, Colm MacCool, Maggie Murdoch, Bill Stearman, Larry Taylor, Andrew Innes and Gilles Miramontes. (See below for some examples of the auction’s art).

Alexandra Bake, chair of the Picton library expansion committee thanked those attending the launch and for supporting Renew.

“Renew is a collaboration of the artists of Prince Edward County who have all joined together to help us raise funds for the library,” said Bake. “It is a very exciting project.”

PEC Mayor Steve Ferguson asked if anyone in the room can imagine Prince Edward County without its arts community. He noted how the arts community has flourished and is now a significant and economic driver.

“It’s about the visual artists, it’s about the musicians and the music they make, it’s about the playwrights, it’s about the film makers, it’s about the writers, it’s about a varied extensive community of people that really help define what Prince Edward County is all about,” he said.

He thanked the volunteers and supporters of the library campaign.

“None of this would happen if we didn’t have volunteers and in this room, we have what I would describe as chronic volunteers” said Ferguson. “You can’t imagine how important it is to the way we are perceived locally and now internationally,” he added. “The artistic community now involves more than the actual creators; all of which play important roles in allowing people to express themselves creatively in some way, shape or form.”

For those interested in acquiring a fine piece of art, and for those who want to help the library achieve its fundraising goal, bidders are encouraged to aim high. The auction will be blind, so participants won’t know where their bid ranks.

Detailed information, as well as zoomable high-resolution images, are available for each piece and include dimensions, date of production, title, medium type and so on. Arrangements can be made, upon request, for anyone wanting to view the creations in person.

To guide bidders, a low and a high estimate for each piece is provided. The low estimate (below current market value) is the starting bid, and the high estimate is the figure organizers are asking bidders to aim for, and hopefully exceed.

This is no limit on the number of times participants can bid and people can bid on as many art pieces as they wish. In fact, multiple bids placed throughout the month of April are encouraged.

Barbara Sweet, CEO of PEC Public Library thanked the Drake, Stanners Vineyard and Karlo Estates Winery, sponsors of the auction.

“It’s certainly a thrill to see so many people out to support the library and our live art auction,” said Sweet, who also thanked Hri Neil and Peta Hall. “They have worked so hard to bring this art auction together,” she said, adding Hall may be small, but she is mighty.”

Sweet also thanked all of the contributing artists and the new Prince Edward Art Dealers Association for its support.

While all the art has been donated, it was important to organizers that all contributing artists have the opportunity to receive a contribution from the eventual auction sale. Each artist will receive the option of receiving 50 per cent of the winning bid on their piece, or if they choose to donate their percentage of the sale to the fundraising campaign, they will receive a tax receipt for 100 per cent of the final auction value.

Picton’s Carnegie Library is 113 years old and has outgrown its space. Plans to restore the existing library and build a three story extension at the back are well under way as fundraising efforts continue, with construction slated to begin this summer.

The expansion will include flexible quiet workspaces and meeting rooms, an enlarged children’s area, multi-purpose lecture theatre and a dedicated Makerspace for STEM learning, as well as an expanded collection.

“When I was a kid, you borrowed a book or you leafed through magazines, but the library has morphed into something considerably more than that,” said Ferguson. “They are community hubs, they are a place, a locale, where there is no fee, no barrier to entry, you can go and you can discover the world, whether that’s through books or periodicals or videos or the internet, those are the services provided to enable people to reach out and possibly attain more than they might otherwise have.”

To date, the Time to Renew campaign has raised more than $1.5 million of its $2 million target.

“We are on the home stretch and we need all the help we can get, so thank you all,” added Sweet.

Click here to visit , view the items and bid. The auction closes at noon on April 30. Successful bidders will be notified that day.