Spirited bidding on Sandra Dal Poggetto’s “American Fork #3” drove the selling price to $5,600, making the large oil painting the piece sold for the highest price Saturday night at the Yellowstone Art Museum’s Auction 45.
Billings developer Steve Corning made that bid on the work by the Helena artist. Works by 151 artists were included in the auction and at the start of the evening 20 pieces had already been sold in the silent auction through the buy-it-now effort, which allows the buyer to purchase a piece early by bidding 10 percent more than the asking price.
Bidders stopped at $8,000 on Ted Waddell’s oil, “Twin Bridges, Angus #4, short of the necessary $10,000 minimum bid to take it home. In 2012, a Waddell piece sold for $10,000, the highest price at that year's auction.
Amid cheers from the auction crowd, Carol Spielman's acrylic painting, "Knee High in Grass," sold for $3,700, above its $2,600 asking price.
Robyn Petersen, YAM executive director, called on bidders to support the auction so the museum can “protect one of Montana’s greatest natural resources – artists.”
The YAM raises 20 to 25 percent of its annual budget of $1.3 million through the annual auction. At press time, the final total for the auction was not available.
Many pieces sold below their asking price Saturday night, but very few were withdrawn from the auction because a minimum bid wasn’t made.
Alan McNiel, a Troy artist whose two works in the auction both sold Saturday, said he was satisfied with the bids on his works.
“As long as the museum made money and I made money, I’m happy,” McNiel said.
McNiel’s oil painting, “Cowscape,” sold for $1,200, which was below its appraised value of $2,200.
Great Falls artist Brenda Wolf’s 30 X 40 pastel, “Ollie & Stan,” sold for $1,900, which was less than the $3,500 value, but she said she was happy with the sale.
“I enjoy it when people love my work. It means so much when it goes to somebody who will appreciate it,” Wolf said.
Billings realtor Howard Sumner has bought four of the last five of Wolf’s works sold at the YAM’s auction.
A big part of Saturday’s auction was Lot 2013, where bidders make pledges for the YAM’s education program. The program organizes museum visits and classes for 5,000 area students. More than $28,000 was raised Saturday to support education.
Julia Benson and Carla Christensen took in their first art auction Saturday night. Benson, who is a resident of Eagle Cliff Health Care Community, where Christensen is activity director, visits the YAM every month as part of the Senior Connections program. She was invited to attend the auction as a guest.
“It’s amazing to see so many people here and such good art,” Benson said.
Doug Carr, YAM board chairman, said he was pleased with the turnout Saturday night, which totaled more than 300 people.
“We’re here for art and that’s what the Yellowstone Art Museum is for,” Carr said. “Art reaches us in a place we don’t have words for.”