Champagne and Chinet

Black Mountain College Museum and
Art Center fundraiser

Art, champagne, the sound of a gavel, and the shout of “SOLD!” made for a fun and lively summer evening at the Young Men’s Institute (YMI), a historic Asheville landmark.  It was the annual Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center (BMCM+AC) “Food for Thought”

Entering the YMI, we greeted a few friends including Alice Sebrell, Director of the BMCM+AC, and quickly made our way to the freely flowing champagne bar, reviewed the auction items and planned our bidding strategy.  We knew competition was going to be tough as the lots were beautiful ceramic plates and platters designed and decorated by some of Western North Carolina’s nationally and internationally recognized contemporary artists including Taiyo la Paix, Donald Sultan, Marcia Cohen, and Alli Good.  Each plate featured a quote from a Black Mountain College poet, painter, philosopher, architect or scientist and were interpreted by the participating artists.

Alli Good + Marcia Cohen + Taiyo La Paix

The auction began promptly at 8:45 with 30 ceramic art pieces to be sold in support of the BMCM+AC.  Our competitive instincts had to kick in as the  plates were being sold between blinks and sips of champagne.  The highest price bid was $625.00 for Kathy Triplett’s “The doors keep rattling – Denise Levertov” in a dramatic bidding war across the auditorium ending in cheers and hugs.  The average bid price was $275.00.  Alas, we just missed winning Donald Sultan’s “Hot Dog Hot Dog” at $425.00.

The evening came to a close with a very special treat – Visual artist Mel Chin entertaining us with a conceptual performance piece.  Chin’s piece grew out of the combination of his time constraint, ethnicity, and theme for the evening…the use of plates to convey a former Black Mountain School artist’s quote.  Chin’s work typically focusses on environmental, cultural or social circumstances in an effort to bring light to our place in this world.  For Saturday night’s performance, Chin used lighthearted humor to highlight each poem.  Being of Chinese decent, he selected 4 Chinet  paper dinner plates as his medium, (get the play on words here?);  with one imprinted with maggots, one with a gingerbread man, one modified as a yellow mask, and one, a plate with the bite taken out of it highlighting the bitterness of the process and the referenced poem.

Brigid Burns + Donald Sultan

The bidding ended on a high note – one lucky participant walked home with a unique time capsule of a piece created  by an internationally recognized conceptual artist preserving the legacy of an important American cultural institution; Black Mountain College.  The richness of all the artist’s contributions and the benevolence of the bidders made for a fantastic evening.

Article written by Cameron Campbell and Photos courtesy of Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center

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