Art auction draws donations

By BenitaZepeda

The Faculty/Staff Scholarship Initiative, in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Advancement, staged its first event last week to raise more money for

student scholarships.

Members of the initiative hosted the Faculty Staff Loft Party April Fool’s Celebration on April 1 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event was held on the first floor of the 33 E. Congress Parkway Building, where various faculty and staff members donated their artwork to be auctioned at the party.

Wayne Tukes, college adviser, said the Loft Party was in the works for about a year and said this is the first event he has seen like this.

“This designation has been a real hip thing,” Tukes said. “Hip is the journey and our destination is to engage faculty and staff in celebrating them and raising the maximum amount of funds for students’ scholarships.”

Approximately 200 faculty and staff members attended the event and raised $5,271. That figure doesn’t include money matched through

ScholarshipColumbia, which is 1-to-1 for every dollar donated by a faculty or staff member, and 2-to-1 if that person is a Columbia alumnus.

The idea for an auction party was conceived by Kevin Cassidy, build shop manager at Columbia, who wanted to create a fun event for faculty and staff while raising more money for the scholarship initiative.

“It is certainly the first time that the faculty and staff have asked our colleagues to come together with us,” Cassidy said.

Cassidy said this is a different type of party than those hosted by administration in the past. He also said there is a different “spirit” to the event because members of the scholarship initiative put it together on their own.

“It’s nice to come from the grassroots level to celebrate with the college,” Cassidy said. “We’re hoping to have people come together and understand the spirit of the whole fundraising campaign, and that it’s nobody pulling strings. It’s really the faculty and staff who want to do this.”

There were more than 75 works of art donated by various faculty and staff members, including four original prints of published New Yorker covers designed by Ivan Brunetti, assistant professor in Art and Design.

Humanities, History and Social Sciences professor Louis Silverstein and his wife, Paula Cofresi Silverstein, donated figurines and pottery she designed. Another faculty donation was a print designed by Eliza Nichols, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts, which sold before the auction.

Intangible items were also auctioned, such as two private yoga sessions from Nancy Van Kanegan, adjunct faculty member in Art and Design and Humanities, History and Social Sciences, and a free lunch with either Stephen Asma or Dominic Pacyga, associate professors of Cultural Studies and Humanities, History and Social Sciences, respectively.

In addition to a sketch of jazz musician John Coltrane by Tukes, and a photo of Dizzy Gillespie donated by Karen Smith, college adviser, four tickets to the Chicago Jazz Ensemble performing “In the Mood for Moody” went to the highest bidder.

Pattie Mackenzie, assistant dean in Faculty Advising, said across the college, people were excited about the ScholarshipColumbia event.

“We’re creating community and we’re creating scholarship money, how much better could it be?” Mackenzie said.

The resources for the loft party, such as tables and food, were either found around campus or donated, which made the event cost-effective.

“We’re spending no money,” Cassidy said. “Any of the money that we collect goes straight to the scholarship.”

All the advertising was done in-house, and the posters for the event were designed by Richard Zeid, associate professor of Art and Design.

Bob Blinn, college adviser, said there were four different note cards where the images on them were designed by a faculty member and where people could make donations if they did not want to participate in the auction.

“They are blank inside and if people don’t want to get involved with the auction, for donation they can have their choice of one of the notecards,” Blinn said.

He provided the music in a group called The Unattended Packages, which include John Wawrzaszek, recycling manager, Josef Szaday, A/V coordinator, Kevin Riordan, graphic technician, Mark Sramek, carpenter, David Dolak, senior lecturer, and George Bailey, associate professor.

Cassidy said he looked at this event as a community builder while raising money for students.

“My priority is to get people together, to remind each other how lucky we are to work here and to be able to make our living in this kind of service to education and art,” Cassidy said. “I do think that we will raise some money, but our focus is our community of workers.”

Tukes said he is very pleased with the way the event turned out, both in fundraising and creating a sense of community.

“This affords the opportunity for us to engage each other and find out who we are and who is doing what,” Tukes said. “The auction and artwork also encourages that sense of building that community.”