5×5 fundraiser gives patrons view of the arts-making process

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 121 views 

FORT SMITH — Artistic sights and sounds filled the Fort Smith Convention Center for the annual Artisans Squared 5×5 Gala, a fundraiser for the Center for Art & Education on Saturday (March 10).

About 150 people mingled among nine premier artists from Arkansas whose work was on display. Some were even working on a piece during the event.

Three-dimensional art was more prevalent than in years past. Potter Winston Taylor returned but brought a potter's wheel instead of a kiln and showcased his craft with the earlier stages of clay production as opposed to the firing and glazing finishing steps.

Jane Hartfield, a fiber artist who uses a combination of dyed fabrics that are embroidered, quilted and decorated with other objects to form a textured tapestry. Greg Palmer twisted wire to from elaborate settings for rocks and minerals that would become the finished piece of jewelry.

Glass artist Ron Mynatt and metal sculptor Jaak Kindberg were eager to talk about their respective fields but were not creating pieces at the event due to the tools and equipment required to successfully complete a work being incompatible with an exhibition venue.

Five students from Southside High School and the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith played as an unnamed string quintet and provided classical music well suited to the mood of the show.

Dinner consisted of lasagna and chicken parmigiana catered by Taliano's restaurant. Light hors d'oeuvres and two full open bars allowed guests to graze while they browsed.

The main event followed dinner as ticket stubs were drawn in groups of about ten. Each ticket entitled one of the two guests admitted per $100 ticket to pick out a 5×5-inch painting created by an area artist. Luck of the draw was the only obstacle standing between attendees getting the piece that they wanted or settling for something else. Any of the remaining 58 works were sold for $50 each at the end of the event. Auctioneer Jan Nordin then solicited bids from the audience seated at dinner tables for each of the nine pieces donated by the artists represented.

Jane Owen, executive director for the Center for Arts & Education, said she hopes this year's fundraiser will exceed the $10,000 amount raised from Artisans Squared 5×5 Gala last year.