Instead of merely getting drunk and dressing in green, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year by bidding for art at the Durango Arts Center. The locally-beloved Furniture as Art Auction started 13 or 14 years ago as a fundraiser, where older pieces of furniture were given to local artists who would refurbish or do funky designs on them. The furniture gets auctioned off with proceeds going to KDUR.
Some artists have participated in the auction every year – but KDUR is always looking to add to the talented artist pool. Participants this year include Tom Hahl, McCarson Jones, Amy Felker, Shannon Cruise and many more. “It’s not just decorative – a lot of it is functional,” said Bryant Liggett, KDUR station manager and organizer of this event. “Andy Barber and Gavin McAlden from Counter Kulture make stuff out of concrete like chairs and benches.” Some pieces will be available to view around town before the auction, so keep an eye out if you’re window shopping on Main. Hahl’s wooden lectern, for example, can be found in the window of Maria’s Bookshop.
Shannon Cruise, a sculptor and elementary school art teacher, is contributing a piece “Skins.” It’s a sculpture constructed from burl wood she found in a river, a tarantula molting, a snakeskin molting and what looks to be a human hand molting (it’s life-like, but the hand is actually just latex in a wax mold). All three of these “skins” have been cast into clear resin blocks (that look like bubbles) with little halogen lights behind them. You can put it on your mantelpiece and use “Skins” as an unconventional lamp. “It’s about how animals aren’t the only ones who shed their skin,” said Cruise. “We are continually morphing, growing, shedding. It’s nice to think of yourself as evolving; it’s easy to get stuck thinking ‘I am who I am, I can’t change that.’ But you can.” A lot of art around Durango tends to feature Southwestern motifs, in deference to tourists. But Cruise likes weirder stuff, like industrial decay. “I love wood and rust,” said Cruise. “Dead things. It also keeps material costs down.”
Catered by Norton’s Catering, a ticket to the auction buys you appetizers, drinks and the chance to browse and possibly purchase some original artwork. The band Ace Revel will perform during the mingle-around hour preceding the auction, and pro-auctioneers Calvin and Pat Story of Treasure Auction will facilitate the bidding.
If you’re interested, make sure to buy your auction tickets from Maria’s Bookshop or KDUR in advance. “It’s a very popular event which has sold out many times in the past,” warned Liggett. “So it’s a safe bet to get your tickets early.” In conjunction with the auction, there will be a simultaneous “silent auction” happening in the DAC gallery, featuring contributed pieces of art that are not necessarily furniture.
“I think it’s a great cause,” said Cruise. “There’s lots of things people will ask you to donate art for, and this is one of the few that I actually will.” The best part about an auction like this is not knowing what you might end up taking home; and if you’re an artist, you never know who might end up owning your work. “Giving away your art can be hard sometimes,” said Cruise. “You have to feel like you’re past it and can detach from it. I have to keep something until I don’t need it anymore.”