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Quinlan opening its doors in March for a free party celebrating Gala 2020
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Amanda Shelnutt, far left, and Nairika Kotwal Cornett, far right, unveil the new sculpture outside of the Quinlan Visual Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 5. The sculpture was made by Gregory Johnson and funded with private donations. Shelnutt, the outgoing director of the arts center, said she considers the project her swan song. - photo by Nick Bowman

The Quinlan Visual Arts Center is dropping the entrance fee for a one-night-only party in March.

On Thursday, March 5, the Green Street-based art gallery and event space is opening its doors for a Preview Night Party, which celebrates the Quinlan’s Gala 2020 live auction and fundraiser.

Quinlan Preview Night Party

What: A free party previewing the art center’s annual fundraiser

When: 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, March 5

Where: Quinlan Visual Arts Center, 514 Green St NE, Gainesville

More info: quinlanartscenter.org/gala-preview-night

How much: Free

“Our goal is to expand our reach by inviting all to enjoy an evening watching artists create, letting children create, encouraging conversations around creativity — bringing community together,” Quinlan Executive Director Nairika Kotwal Cornett said in a Wednesday, Feb. 26, announcement.

Live art demonstrations, a first look at the new art show, artist meet-and-greets, art activities for kids, a photo booth, live music and small-dollar art for sale — the evening is catered to a general audience that, before this year, had to pay to participate.

Art projects for kids include collage, coloring and paints depending on age.

Live art demonstrations are set from Leigh-Anne O’Brien in Gainesville, Atlanta’s Trish Land, and Gainesville’s Rosemary Dodd. O’Brien specializes in watercolors and acrylics, Land in acrylics and ink and Dodd in a variety of styles and media.

The event will also include a food truck and beer, wine and beverages for purchase.

The party previews the works of art that will be auctioned during the gala night, which is set for Saturday, March 7.

The gala’s participating artists include Marc Chatov, Ann Goble, David Wendel, Clayton Santiago, Jill McGannon, Patrick McGannon, Dawne Raulet, Bert Beirne, Rae Broyles, Pris Butler, Jan Eubanks, Craig Ford, Parrish Hoag, Christie Gregory, Paula Hoffman, Chad Shore, Ann Alexander, Debra Yaun, Joyce Hornor and guest of honor Dennis Campay.

Campay is being honored for donating a piece to the arts center worth $18,000, according to Cornett. The piece is named “Breakfast With Eiffel” and is mixed media on wood.

But not every piece involved in the gala is budget-busting high art.

At the preview night, attendees will have the chance to buy something from the “Small Wall,” a collection of art that tops out at $250.

The Quinlan has put a scheme in place to prevent collectors from swooping in to buy up the whole offering. Quinlan members will be given five tickets at the event — and members of the public can buy a ticket for $5 — that enter them in a raffle to buy a particular piece.

If their name gets pulled by emcee Phil Bonelli, they’ll get the chance to buy the piece of their choice.

“You cannot walk in and just purchase the whole wall,” Cornett said on Wednesday. “Our goal is to start young families taking a piece home, an affordable piece.”

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