By Benjamin Joe
The Carnegie Art Center hosted a big night this past Thursday for its annual “Art off the Wall” event. The largest wall was covered with small 5-by-7-inch pieces of art, while the space also contained a room dedicated to 12-by-12-inch canvases and even tinted glass that were bid on silently by artists’ fans.
Bryan Smith was the master of ceremonies that evening. After introducing the band, he told those gathered about the artists who donated to the center.
“It’s kind of like a blind selection, because you don’t know who that artist is that’s on that wall,” he said. “Believe it or not, there are some really famous, well-known artists that have donated their work. You’re going to get a great piece of art no matter who you select, which piece you select, for $20.”
“And then it’s one-stop shopping today, because we take it right into the west gallery and have it framed,” he continued. “And you got your Christmas shopping done! So, the heck with Cyber Monday, this is the Carnegie Center Thursday!”
Beverly DiPalma, board member of the art center, said, “Five years ago, we reopened the Carnegie Center when it was closed for renovation, with a fundraiser to get an art committee with the idea to sell artwork here. We started our first year with 5 by 7’s only, $20 to purchase an original piece of artwork, and the money keeps the doors open.”
“This is our fifth annual now,” she continued. “It’s grown each year. The last two years we added 12-by-12 original canvases. These are from some very prestigious artists. There are some very good art represented here in the Buffalo/Western New York area and we’re very proud of that. (The 12-by-12 work) will go silent auction and half of the money the artist keeps; we keep the other half.
One of the contributors to the big wall was Deb Meier, a local artist. She took the time to show one of her 5-by-7 drawings on the big wall of an elephant.
“(I draw) mostly birds and wildlife, flowers. I’m a watercolor artist – River Art Gallery is where I hang out,” she said. “I donated three of the 5-by-7s, because the Carnegie is a jewel. Being a resident artist at River Art, and taking classes at Partners of Art, both organizations support the Carnegie.”
“You can see,” DiPalma said. “People come and they’re being supportive. We have over 150 artists donating 5-by-7s on the wall and we hope a lot of them sell tonight.”
“It’s an open call,” she said. “You as an artist, you might be a photographer, we’ll take your photography as a 5-by-7. I might be a weaver or a glass artist. We have a wonderful woman that does stained glass. She has her students create 5-by-7 glass pieces. We’ll take any medium. It’s an open call.”
“We do this event every year for the Carnegie and we donate a good portion of the framing,” said Joan Horn of Partners in Art as she sorted through frames for each 5 by 7. “It’s a good fundraiser for the community and it’s a great fundraiser for the Carnegie. It’s a good way for them to earn money. It’s our donation to the community.”
“We’ve been on Webster Street in North Tonawanda for 24 and ¾,” she said. “Twenty-five years this spring.”
Joan paused to talk to Carlos Torez, an appreciator of art and a buyer of a 5 by 7.
“This event is absolutely … it’s the premier event of this center,” he said after choosing a frame, “It’s grown in leaps and bounds in the last five years and it’s wonderful. It’s a great idea for a fundraiser, obviously a big hit, you can tell by the amount of cars out there. It’s great.”
Natalie Brown, program coordinator for the Carnegie Art Center, said after the event, “This has been our most successful event for ‘Art off the Wall.’ … The board and staff and volunteers made this a success, marketing and finding sponsors, as well as artists.
“It was the most successful in terms of amount of people that were there, as well as financially. We’re very grateful to the community.”