Longtime Chautauquans Rita Argen Auerbach and Pat Finson have teamed up for a third time to raise money benefitting the Chautauqua Fund.
Auerbach, an award-winning artist, paints Chautauqua-themed artwork that is sold at Pat’s at Chautauqua, a boutique located in the St. Elmo.
“A couple of years ago we said, ‘We both want to give back to Chautauqua that has been so generous in their support for people and in what we do,’ ” Auerbach said. “So we decided that we would together give 100% of the proceeds from sales of my prints to the Chautauqua Fund.”
Auerbach’s paintings have been sold in Finson’s shop for about 20 years. They had an exclusive arrangement that allows Auerbach’s paintings to be the only art showcased or sold in the boutique.
“I approached Rita because I noticed that she had artwork at various places on the grounds and I said, ‘Let’s try an experiment. You only show your artwork in my store, and I won’t show any other artists,’ ” Finson said. “And we’ve been together ever since.”
Recently, the pair decided to switch things up. By introducing new artists to the store, they could not only garner more support for their Chautauqua Fund donations, but also attract more customers.
“Last year we said ‘Let’s come up with something else,’ and Pat and I agreed that I would give up some of my art space behind the counter,” Auerbach said.
Other Chautauqua artists were invited by Auerbach to showcase and sell their artwork in the boutique. Some of the artists have worked and traveled with her in workshops or have taken Auerbach’s art classes.
“These artists do not have another venue on the grounds to show their work,” Auerbach said. “This is why I have particularly selected them. The space to show artwork for individuals here is very limited.”
All of the artists who have featured art in Pat’s at Chautauqua have agreed to donate between 50% and 100% of their proceeds to the Chautauqua Fund. The new featured artists include: Bob Jeffrey — who is selling his original watercolors of Chautauqua settings; Melanie Voboril — who creates mixed media, 3D naturescapes; Jerry Chesley — who is displaying watercolor prints of Chautauqua; Sandra Reiss — whose original watercolors feature dogs seen at Chautauqua; Robin Robbins — whose whimsical, original watercolors show life in Chautauqua; and Shar Trenkamp — whose original oil paintings are elegant, small-format landscapes.
The addition of new artists will expand Auerbach and Finson’s donation efforts. Tina Downey, director of the Chautauqua Fund, said she values their desire to give back and likes the idea of introducing new artists.
“I value the partnership created among Pat and Rita over these past 20 years, and am particularly enamored that their desire to give back to Chautauqua has parlayed this summer into a collection of artists who are similarly donating a portion or all of their art sales for the benefit of the Chautauqua Fund,” Downey said. “I deeply appreciate their nurturing this effort among the artist community and for the generous support this will ensure for Chautauqua’s many programs.”
Auerbach and Finson appreciate the reinvigorated effort and publicity offered by the inclusion of additional artists. The two depend on the Institution’s outlets to share “this opportunity for people to acquire wonderful art and knowing that because of the sales and purchases, that it’s helping Chautauqua in return,” Auerbach said.
Finson credits her store’s overall success to the Chautauqua community. Raising money for the Chautauqua Fund through her shop is something that she enjoys and plans to continue.
“I appreciate the fact that I would not have had as wonderful of a run here if I weren’t in Chautauqua,” Finson said.