The Riverside Arts Center, 32 E. Quincy St., is in the midst of a fundraiser that its officials hope will raise nearly $30,000 and also provide a way for people to purchase original fine art for a price they wouldn’t be able to touch in a traditional silent auction setting.
You can purchase any of 11 prints for $100 each or buy a portfolio of all 11 for $1,000 during RAC’s “Shape of Things to Come” fundraiser, which continues through Oct. 1. All of the prints are on display at the Riverside Arts Center, or you can view them online and purchase them at riversideartscenter.com.
“We were looking for an opportunity to provide more affordable art, and for $100 you can get a super beautiful original print,” said RAC Executive Director Liz Chilsen.
Each artist’s design was made into a set of 20 ink-jet prints on high-quality 11-by-17-inch paper. The first five prints of each print run have been sorted into five separate 11-print portfolios. Prints six through 20 are available for purchase individually.
The artists invited to provide work include Claire Ashley, Aimee Beaubien, Paola Cabal, Bob Faust, Azadeh Gholizadeh, Matthew Girson, Anne Harris, Anna Kunz, Kim Piotrowski, Luis Alvaro Sahagun and Jay Wolke.
As of Sept. 27, two of the five 11-print portfolios and all of the individual prints by Anna Kunz and Anne Harris had sold out.
While some artists submitted work in a purely digital format, which RAC converted into ink-jet prints, others created original works of art, which were then translated into digital images.
Anne Harris created an original painting “Tear Study” while Paola Cabal provided RAC with an ink wash drawing titled “What We Make of It.” The arts center got prints to use for their fundraiser while the artists got to retain the original pieces to exhibit and sell elsewhere.
Chilsen said all of the artists took the theme of the fundraiser to heart when designing their pieces. Azadeh Gholizadeh, whose work was exhibited at RAC in early 2020, read the H.G. Wells book “The Shape of Things to Come” and listened to the 1967 recording of The Yardbirds’ song of the same title to gain inspiration for her work, which bears the same name.
“People really took it on and really contributed work that was really mindful of the theme,” Chilsen said.
According to Chilsen the idea behind the fundraiser came from RAC board member Paul D’Amato, a photographer who was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in 1994 and is a professor at Columbia College in Chicago.
“I think we reached a point where we just can’t keep asking artists to give us things that are one of a kind,” D’Amato said. “They don’t give us their best things, because they can’t afford to give us their best things, and they always sell for half of what they do sell for [in a gallery setting].”
One of the reasons the work is so affordable is that the printing and paper were donated to RAC. The printing was done by Document in Chicago, which is run by Aron Gent, a former student of D’Amato’s at Columbia. The paper was donated by IT Supplies.
“It would’ve cost thousands of dollars,” Chilsen said of the printing costs and paper had they not been donated. “It was a super effort of people pitching in and helping out.”
The title of the fundraiser is also a nod to next year’s 30th anniversary of the nonprofit arts organization, which exhibits the work of both local and nationally known artists and offers art education opportunities to children and adults.
All 11 artists who were invited to provide designs for the limited-edition print run have exhibited work at RAC in the past, and each was asked to have their designs respond to the phrase “shape of things to come.”
“We are really interested in drawing our history forward and looking to the future,” said Chilsen, who has been RAC’s executive director since the start of 2021. “We have a great history, so we’re trying to find ways to honor that.”