Arts in Motion Grows as a Grand Rapids Art Organization After a Successful Chair Affair Auction at Richard App Gallery
Arts in Motion hosted more than one hundred art patrons and philanthropists Saturday, August 15th for the Chair Affair fundraiser. Arts in Motion is an organization that provides art, music, and dance opportunities for persons physically, emotionally, or mentally challenged. The Richard App Gallery served as fascinating backdrop to the auction on a hot evening, which actually felt like a night in Morocco. The App Gallery opened the doors wide and set the ceiling fans turning; the mix of heat and cooling were enchanting. A tent village in the sculpture garden allowed patrons to step out of the action and drink a bit of wine seated at the comfortable wrought iron tables. Wine was poured by an affable staffer in an Art of the Table apron, serving a simple white or red vintage.
Brothers Robert and Richard App are constantly finding new uses for the space, from drop in yoga to community mixers, and the buzz about possible new quarters for the vibrant art business astounded more than a few. Grove, Brewery Vivant, and the Green Well– all those business coalesced around the seed planted by the Richard App Gallery. In a stroke of location luck, the easterly sculpture garden connects to the luxuriant gardens of the Inner City Christian Federation building, tended to a late summer crescendo by master gardeners educated at Michigan State University. It was a good investment of a precious summer evening.
Ted Jauw is a most singular man. Shamanic to the nth degree, he walks with ecstatic welcome in the communities of North America and Africa. In fact, his recent wedding, after which he battled a life-threatening illness, was open to all people who wanted to wish his wife, Kate, and him well. I was enchanted by him when he enthralled a small audience gathered at Unity of Muskegon a few years back. Jauw had several years almost as accursed as the Biblical Job, losing employment, home and family. Given the advice by an Lakota elder, “Have you gone to cry in the wilderness”, Jauw sat beside his truck for several days in the cold of the Badlands with little more than tobacco to smoke. All was restored to him and more in Grand Rapids. His gifts as an almost hypnotic storyteller aside, I wondered if he might have been the best pick as auctioneer.
Roli Mancera brought a chair that fused old oak with etched glass, and it earned a top bid. Jauw wisely started bidding at two hundred dollars and coaxed a lull in the bidding into a second wind. Jauw knew the goods on Mancera, the shaman understanding the young Latino elder. Mancera has won notice as a sculptor and artist of regional stature. A builder of ofrendas during the passionate months of October and November, Mancera has added performance art to his practice. Jauw shared with his patrons how he witnessed Mancera’s ritualistic self-cutting of his jet black hair, recreating the moment for us that evening. “Cabello es arte”, Mancera might say. “Tierra es arte”, Mancera has taught his son. One wonders if a professional auctioneer might have sold the masterful chair for a thousand.
In one of several cases, Jauw didn’t investigate his artists, selling a chair prepared by an award winning actress, playwright and director without a moment of biography. To say this is to be unfair to Jauw because he carried his duties far better than average in art auction memory. I recall donating an oil painting of the Oak Island Light painted by a famous General Motors automotive illustrator and providing a backgrounder. The volunteer auctioneer looked at it, put a starting bid on it of forty bucks and let it go for forty bucks. The backgrounder stayed in the background. I had drinks with the cherry picker one night, an art collector with a fortune from a law practice and a medical practice. He regaled me with stories of how he gave it pride of place in the den of his Arizona hunting cabin.
Something about the West Michigan practice of charitable art auctions needs to change. Speaking about men with shamanic powers, maybe we should tap into the wisdom of Tommy Allen, whose Art Battle for Community in Creston, held at the Rezervoir Lounge, always has bid battles rocketing towards the thousand dollar mark.
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