Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Infinite Stakes

Yesterday’s news was full of optimism about the art market as bidding was high at Sotheby’s Fall Contemporary offering. There was some speculation that it heralded the end of the art-market portion of the great recession. I’m not sure if it was related, but bidding was quite animated at the Virginia Art Book Center’s annual Raucous Auction as well. It was a cool event in a very cool place.

VABC, which amusingly shares an acronym with the Virginia bureau of Alcoholic Beverage Control, is a cooperative studio specializing in printmaking and hand-made letterpress. Housed in a former industrial facility within a very easy walk of downtown, the Center is a great resource and very smartly run. They’re not pretentious but they do great work. It’s the virtuous cycle: excellence builds confidence and confidence is cool.

Their fundraiser was the place to be this evening with terrific catered food and wine and a very lively atmosphere. Those ingredients, plus excellent artwork on offer seemed to telekinetically loosen all the purse strings and I was not exempt myself.

There were many prints that I would have loved to add to my own collection, but there was one item that far outshone everything else. A collaboratively-made deck of 45 cards called “Infinite Stakes”, with card each printed by a different artist, was offered in a unique “reverse auction,” where the price is set at a given amount that went down with each commitment to buy another number from the edition. When all fifteen sets were purchased, the price landed at $150, which was an amazing bargain. The room sold out and I'm quite sure it was a successful night for the organizers.

I couldn’t be happier with my purchase except for the fact that it’s $150 that I really don’t have. That’s why credit cards exist: to buy things that we really should not. I’m not sure if the Recession is over or not but there is optimism in the air, quite possibly unwarranted. It [the optimism] is a condition that cannot be easily cured.

For now I’m going to spread my new set of cards on a clean surface and look at them carefully. Maybe they will contain some answers.

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