New Haven Artspace

A diagram of a trilobite fossil, a sculpture called “Moon Jar” and a week on the Amalfi Coast are among the items that will be up for auction at Artspace New Haven’s annual gala on Saturday.

More than 100 people are expected at this year’s sold-out event, for which the theme is “Super/Natural,” inspired by a new Artspace exhibition featuring works created by the New Haven artist Rachel Hellerich. Art pieces donated from around the country will be auctioned off at the gala. It will also honor founding board member Karyn Gilvarg ARC ’75, who retired from her position as city planner in October. In addition to a live and silent auction, the gala will feature food from the local Spanish restaurant Barcelona. Artspace plans to use the money raised from this event to support its daily operations and community outreach programs.

“I am just really hoping to engage with our community, with our artists and really explain to people why it is important to support growing art organizations like Artspace,” said Luciana McClure, one of the organization’s board members. “When they have really big events, it is not just something to support the organization itself but their thriving programs for our community that allows more opportunities for other artists and for youth.”

McClure said the gala will feature some “affordable art” in addition to the higher-end pieces available for purchase. Artspace has also sold $30 tickets to attendees under the age of 30. All Artspace’s exhibits and many events are free of charge to the public, which makes them more accessible to Elm City residents.

In addition to raising funds from tickets to the gala, Artspace has received sponsorships from Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Berchem Moses PC, Common Vision and Reed-Hilderbrand, among other companies.

Pieces were donated by artists and collectors from around the country, and some local organizations also contributed “experience packages” that will also be auctioned off. McClure’s said her favorite piece this year was Martha Lewis’s Constellations. She added that she enjoyed getting to see the local artists she knows as colleagues in New Haven.

Many of the pieces vary in material and subject, but they all fall under the central theme of “Super/Natural.” Artspace public relations coordinator Katie Jurkiewicz said the “otherworldly, kind of space quality” to Rachel Hellerich’s art in the gallery helped the staff come up with the theme for this year’s gala. Past themes include “Back to the Future” and “Something Blue.”

Jurkiewicz said her favorite part of the gala is actually the auctioneer, Guy Bennett, whom she said helps to encourage more bids on the artwork.

“Guy Bennett is a marvel to watch work,” she said. “He charms the pants off the people in the audience. A lot of people come out just to watch him.”

Jurkiewicz, McClure and Artspace Executive Director Helen Kauder all emphasized the importance of community support for the arts in a time when public funds are under threat. The money generated by the gala will go in part to the Summer Student Apprenticeship Program, which allows New Haven high schoolers to work with resident artists and create their own artwork. This year, artist Roberto Lugo will build a tile mural with students — a project that requires significant monetary support — according to Jurkiewicz.

Jurkiewicz also emphasized the threats facing public funding from organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts, which could face cuts in the federal budget process. While new funds will not help Artspace expand, the organization is hoping to create a permanent, stable source of funding, Kauder said.

“We want to be here for the artists of tomorrow and the young people of tomorrow,” she said. “We are focused on creating an endowment to create a stable source of funds, while remaining attentive to the needs of the moment. We want to plan ahead and produce better programming.”

Artspace was founded in 1986.

Carolyn Sacco |