SELECT, WPA's annual art auction exhibition and gala, is the organization's most important fundraiser of the year. Responsible for raising a significant amount of capital for the organization’s many projects and services, the gala has grown to represent more than just a fundraiser to the artist and patron community in the district. 

WPA strives to support its artist members and arts in the region in as many ways as possible, and the gala is one more way that is done. Aside from being a fundraiser, the event serves as an important nexus for the creative community in DC. Many relationships are forged and strengthened in the days leading up to and at the event, which is an invaluable time to celebrate and connect.

Connection is an important aspect of any event, but particularly relevant to a community as diverse as our regional art scene. SELECT 2013 artist and WPA member Maggie Gourlay describes the role SELECT plays in fostering its growth; “Washington has a vibrant contemporary art scene, but it is broken up into pockets in different parts of the city and in the suburbs of Maryland, Virginia, and Baltimore. The auction presents an opportunity to bring both emerging and established artists together from this area that might otherwise not be aware of each other’s work or show together. Given the large quantity of works in the show, it is a snapshot of what art-making looks like in Washington.”

For artists in particular, SELECT is an important touchstone in their careers. WPA member artist Sonda Arkin has work in this year’s auction exhibition: “This auction is a DC institution, without being stale, and brings artists and patrons and arts supporters together to mingle who might normally not be all in the same room. I make a point of going to the talks and gala even if I am not a participating artist, have bought a number of my favorite works at the auction, met some artists I admire there, and have made important contacts.” SELECT artist, WPA member, and Professor at the Corcoran College of Art, Margaret Adams describes the impact WPA and the gala has had on her career; “WPA put me in my first show and provided a grant workshop which was very important early in my career… which I could not have afforded otherwise. I consider it a benchmark to have my work chosen for the auction. The WPA auction in many ways is what makes the artist community in DC so strong. The organization is the hub of the DC artist community.”

Sondra Arkin, Particle Congregation, 2007Encaustic on dibond (triptych), 24″ x 45″ Sondra Arkin, Particle Congregation, 2007
Encaustic on dibond (triptych), 24″ x 45″

Of course, the event isn’t complete without the art lovers and supporters. SELECT provides a unique opportunity for those who are interested in contemporary art to immerse themselves in a wide variety of work, and have fun doing so. Kristina Bilonick, WPA member, SELECT artist, and former WPA Program Director, describes the scope of work seen at the gala: “The auction used to be more localized, but over the years, it has evolved into an event that brings in curators that are both local and national which, in turn, broadens the mix of artists that are available for people to see and collect.” She continues: “Being selected for the WPA auction is nice because it is more than a one night event - it's a full exhibition that is up for a month or so before the auction event. The exhibition is pulled together by an exciting group of curators that changes each year, so it's fun to see what each of the curators selects and get a sense of their aesthetic and ethos. The curators are also given the WPA directory and access to the ArtFile Online, so there are often still many local artists and WPA members in the mix. [Ed. note: 83% of the artists in this year's exhibition are from DC, Maryland, and Virginia.] I think this new format fosters a nice exchange and dialogue between artists and curators inside and outside of the beltway.”

SELECT exhibition hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 12:00 noon to 6:00pm, February 20th through March 15, 2013. The Gala will take place March 16, 2013 from 6:30pm to midnight.

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March 7, 2013