On a warm summer night in mid-August, people from around the valley gathered in Basalt to rally around the emerging cultural center that is The Art Base. This was my first time to its annual gala, that they’ve dubbed, The pARTy (see what they did there?). Scheduled toward the end of the summer gala circuit, The pARTy, which I will now refer to as The Party, serves as a chance for art supporters to gather together – many in their hometown of Basalt – and raise money that provides a real and notable impact to the evolving culture of the Mid-Valley.
I’ve always circled The Art Base around its periphery. I’ve admired what the organization has done, I’ve known some of its programs, and my kids, husband and I have participated in its classes from time to time, but it took an evening at this event to really appreciate the organization’s deep impact on children, adults, families and professional artists who call the Mid-Valley home.
The night began at The Art Base (which occupies the space that was once home to the Basalt Library), with a cocktail hour in the main gallery and on the lawn outside. While sipping on wine and cocktails crafted with Woody Creek Distillers spirits, the approximately 250 attendees had a chance to bid on 100 “10x10 Name Unseen Silent Auction” pieces from local artists lining the gallery walls. The pieces were not given credit, so people could offer as much as they wanted for work they felt connected to, without the bias of knowing the artist. Only until we entered the tent were we handed a guide to the pieces we had just bid on, surprising many of us who had, or had not, bid on local artistic luminaries like Isa Catto Shaw, James Surls, Brad Reed Nelson, Summers Moore, Wewer Keohane and many others.
Once the auction closed, guests were guided into the tent, where Genna Moe, The Art Base’s executive director, took the stage to talk with local students who are directly impacted by The Art Base’s afterschool and healing programs. The first, now a CRMS student, spoke of how the roots of her artistic journey began at The Art Base, and how the nonprofit continually inspires her evolving creative vision. Another, a Basalt middle school student, told the crowd that the Art as Healing Program helped her escape the confines of depression and how art has given a voice to her struggles. Both were inspiring reminders of the impact an organization like The Art Base can have on a community and why it is so urgently needed – now more than ever. Art as interpretation, art as resistance, art as therapy.
This year’s recipient of the Melva Bucksbaum Dedication to the Arts Award was given to Harry Teague. The revered Basalt-based architect, Teague is also a major supporter of The Art Base. In his acceptance, Teague spoke passionately of how deeply the arts influenced his life, how it is needed in our community and the importance of introducing children to the arts at a young age, as he had been.
Guests were excited to see dinner catered by Chris Norvell’s Epicurious Catering, who served poached salmon and Harris Ranch tri tip beef among a selection of summer grains, mashed potatoes and a colorful crudo vegetable salad. (How I miss the old Epicurious shop in Basalt!)
The night’s real action began with the start of the live paddle fundraiser. Moe notes that last year The Art Base raised approximately $80,000 at The Party’s live paddle auction, and this year the goal was $100,000. That number was exceeded with $116,000 raised!
Almost every person in the room donating from $50 to $30,000 toward the goal of supporting local artists, educational opportunities and expanding the cultural horizon of the Mid-valley. When all was said and done, The Art Base gala evening grossed more than $205,000 – a 25 percent growth from the previous year.
Guests at The Party left that night feeling a great sense of community, energy and a renewed sense of possibility, knowing that there is an organization in that valley that everyone can be a benefit to and can benefit from.