Art auction draws virtual crowd of bidders, in-person browsers

Jul 28, 2021

MARION — The Marion Art Center’s Summer Art Auction Days have begun, and patrons are lining up — virtually, at least — to bid on artwork.

The auction began on July 28 at 4 p.m., and runs through July 31 at 5 p.m. Within an hour of its opening, 129 people had signed up to be eligible to bid on the 300 auction pieces.

One person called the art center from far enough away that he asked to have artwork shipped if he won a piece.

Executive Director Jodi Stevens said the caller “had never even heard of us before.”

Each of the 300 pieces on display were donated by local and Marion Art Center member artists. Some of the pieces are in original condition, but others were donated from people looking to downsize their collections.

“Pre-loved artwork, if you will,” Stevens said.

While the art center didn’t ask any of its member artists to donate pieces, some did anyway.

“So we have some artwork that’s brand new from some of our artist members,” Stevens said.

So many pieces came in that a tent had to be set up outside, where the art center is selling some of the reproduction quality donations outright.

“Some people gave us two or three pieces,” Stevens said, “some gave us 30.”

The auction is the Marion Art Center’s main fundraiser this year, as it was last year, in lieu of the typical Cocktails By the Sea party.

“We learned so much last year that we said ‘we have to do it again,’” Marion Art Center Board of Directors member Holly McDonough said.

But with 300 pieces, “this is a lot more than we could have had at a live, in person event” like the cocktail party, Stevens said.

All bidding for the auction has to be done online through But people interested in seeing the pieces in person can view them at the art center.

Some of the pieces which don’t receive any bids will be donated to local organizations such as councils on aging, Stevens said.

Additionally, 12 local restaurants are supporting the art center by hanging posters and displaying postcards advertising the event.

“So it’s really a community effort to support each other,” Stevens said.

Stevens said the art center has worked to improve the capacity of its website, but noted “we are still a small organization,” and that a high volume of last-minute bidding may cause issues.