VACI Partners will host its annual Stroll Through the Arts Gala at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 28, starting in Fowler-Kellogg Art Center and moving over to Strohl Art Center.
Now a VACI Partners board member, Emily Spahr remembers attending the Stroll Through the Arts Gala when she was younger with her mother and said it was always her “favorite night of the summer.”
“It was something different that Chautauqua does every summer. … I think it’s a really special evening,” Spahr said.
VACI Partner board members Lauren Benson and Spahr served as co-chairs of the event, which they started planning in January. Although this is both women’s first summer planning the gala, Spahr and Benson have served on the board for two and four years, respectively.
“It’s not only a chance to have (guests) come to the gala and bid on the silent and live auctions, but also for them to stroll through the galleries,” Spahr said. “If someone hasn’t seen a particular show that’s hung currently, it’s nice for them to be able to do that that evening and see what we have to offer.”
The gala raises money for School of Art scholarships — typically between $30,000 and $40,000 — and Spahr and Benson expect around 150 to 180 people in attendance. The event, catered by the Athenaeum Hotel, will also feature a guitarist from Jamestown, an auctioneer and both live and silent auctions.
Some of the silent auction items include a Reverie Creamery cheese and wine tasting, a Chautauqua Cinema ticket book and popcorn, an item from the Strohl Gallery Store and eight one-week gate passes.
In the live auction, artists like Howie Lee Weiss and Judy Glantzman have donated signed silkscreened pieces, or “editions,” to be sold, along with work from School of Art students, faculty, staff and Chautauqua residents.
Five students have been working with artist and teacher Tom Rasenes and master printer Bonnie Ashmore all summer on the prints. One of the students, Hannah McBroom, has put together a video about the silkscreening process for people to watch at the gala.
The other four students, Caroline Dupuis, Josie Roebuck, J’han Brady and Bryan McGinnis, worked to craft the prints directly. They’ll be donating their pieces to the auction.
The students have been working in the School of Art’s digital media studio (DMS), which opened last year with funding from Chip and Gail Gamble. The DMS, tucked behind the School of Art’s administrative offices, is now fully stocked with the equipment for the silk-screening process.
Rasenes and the students want those attending the gala to understand that silkscreened prints are called “editions” because they’re not machine-made reproductions of one another. Each one featured in the show has been handcrafted through an intricate process.
The students all worked with different mediums to start their projects. For example, Dupuis started with photos and portraitures for her pieces, Roebuck crafted them entirely by hand and McGinnis used his experience at last winter’s Washington, D.C., Women’s March as inspiration.
Despite their different sources of inspiration, all the students followed a similarly meticulous screening process. It involves coating the initial print in waterproof film, exposing it to photosensitive chemicals and then placing it in a darkroom before transferring the final print.
There will be 25 silk-screened pieces, or “editions,” available at the gala — 16 in the live auction and nine in the silent auction. Strohl will be closed on Saturday to set up the gala, but tickets will be available for purchase for $100 at the door.
“We’re not so hung up on the numbers,” Benson said. “We do want to raise money for students …”
“But,” Spahr said, “We want it to be a smooth, fun evening.”