|Photo by Local Kicks |
Thirteen muralist painters from Denmark
joined master Trompe l’oeil painter and Art
League School instructor, Patrick Kirwin, for
a unique international collaboration as they
transformed one of the walls in The Art League’s
Duke Street Annex into one of Kirwin’s masterful
ALEXANDRIA, VA. - The recent snow dump may have forced the postponement of The Art League’s popular annual Patron’s Show, but it certainly hasn’t dampened the spirits of the eager participants! 500+ ticket holders continue to visit The Art League Gallery in the Torpedo Factory, as well as the League’s website flickr gallery, to review the donated artwork, flush with anticipation and the knowledge that one of those pieces will go home with them after the drawing on Sunday, February 21.
“I feel like a millionaire when I visit this show!” exclaimed one patron. “It’s like I own all these pieces, and I look at them and picture where to put them in my home . . .” And one work of art will go home with each ticket holder; the mystery is—which one? Tickets are sold to correspond with the number of works that artists donate to the League. Then, on the day of the Patrons’ Show drawing, the patrons fill the Torpedo Factory Art Center with their prioritized lists and, as their names are pulled from the hopper, claim the artwork they have selected.
Those called early in the evening have their choice of the hundreds of valuable original works of arts that have been on exhibit for the two-week show, while those called later will need to have alternate choices.
Ahh, yes, the gambling aspect is what has the adrenaline pumping to the point that you can feel the air thicken with excitement as “show time” approaches! And the thing that makes it work so well—even for those called late in the game—is that people’s tastes and preferences are as varied as the artists’ creations. “We start getting excited in January, just thinking about the tickets going on sale,” bubbles patron Lynda Parker. “It’s the perfect antidote to the post-holiday let-down!”
In its 43rd year, the Patrons Show has long been a high-demand ticket.
But—after being featured in a Washingtonian "Best Bargains" issue in 1993—it developed into an "event" on the day tickets went on sale as well, with people camping out overnight on the City Dock (in mid-January!) in a line that wrapped around the Torpedo Factory by the time I typically arrived to open the gallery.
Always remarkably good-humored, ticket-seekers come prepared for the weather with folding chairs and blankets, books and thermoses—some even with tents and propane heaters! (. . .like Krzyzewski-ville, but for ART instead of basketball!)
Like shivering foxhole buddies, they bond in that line as they wait for the gallery doors to open—sharing their “systems” for ranking their artwork choices, forming ongoing friendships (and at least one marriage, that I know of), celebrating their ticket acquisition by going to lunch together at one of Old Town’s delightful restaurants.
Some describe this annual fundraiser as kind of an Art Exhibit-Lottery-Tailgate Party combination. I always describe it as a “win-win-win” proposition — for The Art League, for the donating artists, and for our patrons. The League, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, obviously benefits from the funds raised by ticket sales; donating artists support their organization, as well as have their exhibited work carefully reviewed by hundreds of art appreciators; and patrons acquire an original work of art for a very reasonable price, while enjoying an exciting event.
Cash awards, selected by the show’s juror, reward the artists’ generosity. This year’s winner of the $1,000 Clemente Award, sponsored by C. Daniel and Julianne Clemente, is Anne Citron.
The winners of the four Marian Van Landingham Awards, named for the former Art League president who founded the Torpedo Factory in 1974 (you may know her as Alexandria’s former representative to the Virginia legislature for 24 years), are Peg Bruhn, Nancy Fortwengler, Francesca di Lorenzo, and Elizabeth Kupersmith.
The winner of the Charles E. Beatley, Jr. “Popular Vote” Award, honoring the popular, five-term mayor of Alexandria who championed the redevelopment of the Torpedo Factory as an Art Center, will be selected by the popular vote of the ticket-holders, and announced on the day of the drawing.
If you haven’t yet shared this Alexandria tradition, visit The Art League Gallery in the Torpedo Factory sometime before Sunday, and see what all the excitement is about!
Linda Brinker Hafer is the Executive Director of The Art League. She also serves on the Alexandria Waterfront Committee, and the boards of the Old Town Business & Professional Association (OTBPA) and the Torpedo Factory Artists Association (TFAA).