Alright art lovers, let’s get ready to rum-buuuuhle!
Lower Dauphin Street will be abuzz October 17 when the Mobile Arts Council rings the bell on the return appearance of a fall fundraising idea that exceeded expectation in 2012 — ART Works: The Throwdown 2.
Taking a cue from the popularity of televised competitions, the event pits volunteer artists in a head-to-head race against time and each other to create works from a grab bag of materials.
Last year’s version featured not only the battling creative personnel but a silent auction and live band providing a soundtrack for it all. The event spilled over from MAC’s cozy confines at 318 Dauphin St. with most of the action in the more expansive slot next door, graciously donated by the church that normally employs it.
The Don King of this downtown donnybrook, otherwise known as Mobile Arts Council Executive Director Bob Burnett, believes things are trending upward. He’s set his sights accordingly.
“Last year, off the top of my head, we raised a little over $15,000,” Burnett said. “We met the goal last year and this year we raised it, I think, to $17,000 to push it a little.”
Early signs are favorable on all fronts, no doubt fueled by last year’s glowing reports. They have more sponsors and more interest from attendees.
“We’ve got Iberia Bank; we’ve got Thompson Engineering,” Burnett said. “There are seven premier sponsors which means they’re all over $1,000. That’s big because we only had three folks at $1,000 last year, with the majority of them at $500.”
Other sponsors are Hand Arendall LLC, JRB Associates, Shane A. Taylor Associates P.C., O’ Gwyn LLC and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. A pair of downtown eateries, Heroes and Royal Scam, are on board with in-kind donations in the form of edibles for attendees.
The undercard match-up, or silent auction includes items donated by local artists and organizations, ranging from paintings, photographs, glassworks, ceramic and sculpture to tickets for performances and weekend get-a-ways. A glimpse reveals some recognizable names among the donors such as Bertice McPherson, Kate Seawell, Frank Vogtner, Joanne Brandt and Lucy Gafford.
The main event for the evening’s fine arts fisticuffs features returning champion Jim Hayward, who bested 2012’s competion — Bruce Larsen, Nancy Raia, Colleen Comer, and Gafford – by pulling in the highest bid for his work in the closing auction. Once again, all the entrants will each be given a box with mystery items, access a shared supply closet and 90 precious minutes to create new works of art.
The challengers on the card have honed skills. There’s Riley Brenes, who just picked up a Greater Mobile Arts Award for Emerging Artist and has made a name for himself by organizing a guerilla gallery movement.
Also climbing into the ring will be David Hebert, a local sculptor working chiefly in metals. He began his own company, Designer Metal Works in Chickasaw and his pieces have enjoyed prominence at Robertson Gallery and Host Gallery. He also “brought the thunder Down Under” with a prize-winning entry in New Zealand’s 2011 World of Wearable Art competition.
Then there’s scrappy Amanda Youngblood, who has a BFA in painting, her own Best In Show prize belt and a spot on the Oyster Trail to her credit. Burnett hints a mysterious fifth contestant might be forthcoming, too.
Even more so than the beer, wine and Red Rooster cocktails, adding to the energy of last year’s Throwdown was the live music from The Suzies. This year’s audio ambience takes a different direction under new Board President Allison Herlihy and will be provided by DJ Bob Kohrman spinning tunes as ringside attendees watch the embattled artists work.
Tickets are $30 in advance through midnight Oct. 16) and $35 at the door. They’re available at Mobile Arts Council (318 Dauphin St.) or online at Brown Paper Tickets (www.brownpapertickets.com).
Festivities begin at 6 p.m..
“We’re ahead of the curve. We’ve already got people that are buying tickets and talking about it,” Burnett said. “The buzz is building as we get closer. I’ve been to several events, like Mobile Fashion Week and a Historic Mobile Preservation Society event where people were talking about it.”
Act quick. It’s no Thrilla’ in Manila or Rumble In the Jungle but it certainly appears to be a Big Deal in Mobile.