Creativity meets generosity

Hundreds flooded the art building on Saturday evening to experience the annually held Art from the Heart Benefit Auction, a celebration and fundraiser for the University Art Gallery.

The event, featuring dozens of original art pieces by local artists, students and Sonoma State faculty, was graced by the upbeat music of the Dave Getz Jazz Trio, immediately setting a formal, yet fun mood for the evening. 

Alumni and current students alike attended the event, which seemed to morph into more of a celebration as the night went on.

Whisperings of artistic speculation regarding certain pieces were heard throughout each room, which proved this was no amateur ordeal; this was a well-established event, with regulars who were both art enthusiasts and avid supporters of the local art scene. 

While admiring a black and white drawing, Brian Connolly, a local Santa Rosa resident and first-timer to the event, said, “the difference between good and really good art is whether a piece has a sense of energy.”

Connolly’s wife Lynn said “We just like to support the arts and see what local artists are capable of.” 

“Art from the Heart” was an \ opportunity to mingle casually with \artists, such as John Sappington, a professor of photography at Santa Rosa Junior College. 

“Everything becomes a point of aesthetic,” Sappington said, describing how he came across the idea of photographing something as simple as the road he jogged on in the morning. 

He donated a piece that consisted of several shots of differently painted and distressed concrete, highlighting the inanimate street’s  “emotional state,” showing the everyday subject in a unique creative light.

A piece that seemed awfully popular was a small hanging sculpture of a heart made of glass beads and buttons. Greer Upton, the local artist of the piece, said she created the piece traditionally in remembrance of the former mandatory heart theme. 

When describing the piece, Upton answered, “It took me 65 years to complete this. That’s how old I am.” Upton said how art is the result of the sum of an artist’s life so far. “Your past ties in with it.”

Throughout the evening, Carla Stone, the University Art Gallery Director, buzzed throughout the gallery rooms, chatting it up with visitors and friends, all while making sure the event was functioning smoothly. 

She made it clear this wasn’t just an entertaining party, despite the lively atmosphere. 

“The funds raised by this event allow us to display professional, museum-quality art all year round,” Stone said. “It’s a very important part of our department.”

As fine wine, cheese platters and pieces of cake that commemorated the 31st year of the event were dispersed among the guests by student volunteers, bids began to pile up on the donated paintings, drawings and sculptures.

The snack selection was definitely not the only reason why there was a large turnout on Saturday. 

“The cheese and cracker table alone was worth coming for, but I also feel as though art galleries nowadays are taken for granted,” said freshman Jocelyn Peñaman. “I can’t imagine school without the arts, it’s just part of the learning and living experience.”

The Art from the Heart auction was certainly not the typical pretentious event that one might drag their new boyfriend to against his will. 

Familiar warmth filled the gallery that was created by old friends with stories to reminisce over, all sharing a mutual love of art that will continue to bond all generations alike for years to come.