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The ‘Wild Things’ are at the di Rosa Preserve

Posted on October 9, 2008 by Sonoma Valley Sun

“Wild thing you make everything groovy,” purred the Troggs in its seminal, if single, hit. True to the lyric, the di Rosa Preserve’s seventh annual benefit art auction, this year dubbed “Wild Things,” is likewise groovy. Featuring the donated works of 52 critically lauded artists, the di Rosa’s evening of auctions, dinner and dancing occurs Saturday, Oct. 18 and benefits the preserve’s myriad cultural and educational programs.
Just over the Sonoma County border in the Carneros grape-growing region that links Sonoma and Napa counties, the di Rosa Preserve features an internationally recognized collection of Bay Area art, boasting 2,200 works in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, ceramics and video by artists working from the 1960s to the present.  Moreover, the di Rosa includes 162 acres of natural wildlife preserve, all under Napa County Land Trust open space protection.
Last year, the di Rosa Preserve’s benefit auction raised over $300,000. This year, the arts and nature organization hopes to do as well, if not better.
“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that this is a very small selection of work that has been chosen by a committee that knows quite a bit about Bay Area art,” said Kathryn Reasoner, the preserve’s executive director. “So, it’s both artists in the collection that are well known and emerging artists that are really hot and up-and-coming in the Bay Area.”
Contributing artists this year include such local luminaries as David Best, Gail Chase-Bien, Robert Brady, Enrique Chagoya, Judy Dater, Roy De Forest, Gordon Huether, David Ireland, David Maisel, Jim Melchert, Deborah Oropallo, Richard Shaw, William Wiley and Griff Williams.
“The artists are donating work because they want to support us and support the institution,” said Reasoner, who added “The auction benefits the public programs. Our exhibitions of emerging artists that take place here in the gallery as well as our children’s programs, our programs for the schools, school tours and other programs that make the collection accessible.”
In years past, auction attendees have run the gamut from serious collectors to those who are new to the notion of owning original artwork. With opening price points from about $250 to $2,000, Reasoner is confident that art enthusiasts can find works that suit both their wallets and their walls.
Among the selections is Deborah Oropallo’s evocative “Major Tease,” an image that depicts an epaulet-festooned military major paired with a superimposition of a bustier-clad vixen. The result is a comic caprice on sexual identity. Likewise, Pamela Merory Dernham’s powder-coated steel wire sculpture, “You Make My Heart Sing,” (which also culled its title from Troggs’ tune) is a menagerie of human figures inextricably entwined.
“We have very serious collectors who come, but we also have people who are starting collections or would like to know more about art, or would like to have original art in their homes. They also come because they know that they will have a very carefully chosen selection,” explained Reasoner.
Complementing the popular live auction is a silent auction of smaller works, such as artist Andrew Junge’s whimsical “‘Hope Chest,” comprised of a metal tool box within which, in neon lettering, is the word “hope.”
Arranging the diverse works has been a “bit of a challenge,” according to collections manager, Ben Cooper.
“The connections begin to reveal themselves,” said Cooper, who quietly endeavors to find aesthetic complements between the works. “It is sort of different than when we install an exhibition, but we do try to follow a thread with much of the selection.”
Wild Things, the di Rosa Preserve’s seventh annual benefit art auction, begins at 5 p.m., Oct. 18 with cocktails in the main gallery, followed by a 6 p.m. dinner and live auction. The silent auction and after party commences at 8:30 p.m. The  di Rosa Preserve: Art & Nature is at 5200 Carneros Highway 121, Napa.

Tickets are $300 per person or $3,000 per table for 10. Reservations required. “Wild” and “creative” evening attire is encouraged. Advance viewing and silent bidding from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, through October 16. Please RSVP by October 10.
707.226.5991, ext. 46. Visit www.dirosapreserve.org/auction08/