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Quinlan Gala shares works while funding Gainesville center
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Ashton Meeks, right, and Tracey Patton make their way through the Quinlan Visual Arts Center Saturday evening during the 38th annual Gala Art Auction. It’s the only fundraiser for the Quinlan, and helps set the stage for funding of classes, exhibits and community outreach.

A hundred pieces of fine art found new homes after a night of community members bidding and outbidding each other.

The silent and live auction, also known as the 38th annual Gala Art Auction, acts as the Quinlan Visual Arts Center’s one and only fundraiser for the year.

“It’s our signature event,” Amanda McClure, executive director of the center, said. “It showcases what we do best. ... Art is our business here, and we have a reputation of excellence.”

The Willis Investment Counsel company is one of this year’s sponsors. Funds from the event will go toward the Quinlan’s goal of “bringing visual arts to life, and to the life of the community,” according to their website, www.qvac.org.

The center offers special programs for each level of artist from beginner to advanced. There are classes on everything from watercolor techniques to still life painting, and a Friday sketch club offered every week.

“We’re honored to present this event every year, because it’s popular with the community,” McClure said. “I believe that there are people outside our community (who) are starting to come in and say ‘Hey there’s this really neat art event in Gainesville.’ Sometimes the outside world when they come in are really surprised to see an art center of this caliber serving this area. It’s nice that we have these wow moments with visitors and new guests.”

Exhibitions are also part of the center’s offerings, and the auction is one of them.

“The event is our first major exhibition every year,” McClure said in a previous interview with The Times. “We rotate our exhibitions every seven to nine weeks and have something different every year.”

Artwork came in from all over the nation to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Some of the works were created by local artists, while regional and national artists also sold off their pieces. The work of artists like Junko Ono Rothwell, David Wendel and Mary Frances Hull were up for sale.

“We have a wide variety of art — everything from traditional, still life and landscape to abstract, mixed media and other kinds,” McClure said.

Touted as an “event that is not to be missed for serious art collectors,” the gala has sold out in years’ past and this year was no exception.

The event caps out at 100 couples, or 200 individuals, due to space restrictions in the center.

“I just look forward to seeing the art, seeing the people,” said Cheryl Shippey. She and her husband recently moved to Gainesville and wanted to check out the event.

Ethel Cooper also came with her husband, William Cooper. The Coopers run a Niverplast North American office in Gainesville, and were looking for some art.

“We are hoping to get some artwork for the office,” Ethel said. “We are thrilled to be here.”

Featured guest of honor Roseta Santiago sold off one of her pieces, “Redemption,” before the cocktail reception ended. About 83 author artists contributed their works to the gala’s lineup. She is “one of the most celebrated contemporary Southwestern artists” and was chosen for this reason amongst others.

“Roseta was selected because she embodies what the Quinlan is all about,” McClure said. “She is both an art teacher and an exhibitor. Those are the two things we do here. We have instructional workshops and classes and we also have exhibitions.”

The Santa Fe, N.M., resident is known for her large background murals, still life pieces created from artifacts and realistic portraits of Southwestern people. She’s also an entrepreneur, recently launching her website, ARTtalk.us, which helps artists market their work online for free.

“She’s one of the most successful exhibitors that we’ve ever had,” McClure said.

Santiago has shown off her works in other collections in the United States, including The MASTERS of the American West Invitational show in Los Angeles.

The Quinlan’s next event is the Youth Art Month 2016 reception held at the center 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 18.