Art Papers on the move

Executive Director Saskia Benjamin on the annual auction's switch to the Westside

Currently the largest of its kind in Atlanta, the 16th Annual Art Papers Art Auction promises variety in more ways than one. Among the 241 participating contemporary artists, there are emerging and recognized talents, with both local and international origins, and work in a large array of media. The diversity of the auction provides a slew of fresh, new artworks for practiced collectors, but also a range of prices for those new to the process.

"We're working with young artists, we're working with established artists, again, across media, local to international, and so really it's kind of a microcosm of what's going on," says Saskia Benjamin, executive director of Art Papers.

For a nonprofit organization working to provide outlets for the discussion, documentation, and examination of contemporary art through a variety of programs (Art Papers magazine, the Art Papers Live lecture series, and a newly launched exhibitions program), the auction is a big deal — with big stakes. Although the auction is another forum for education and dialogue, it is also a fundraiser for the other Art Papers programing. And for the first time in a decade, the show is moving: from Mason Murer Fine Art to Westside's Bobo Intriguing Objects.

"At Mason Murer it was very, you know, a traditional white gallery box," Benjamin says. "[Bobo] has a very different feel: dark walls, beautiful hardwood floors, we'll have some chandeliers, it'll be just a bit more romantic, [and] a bit more cozy, than it's been in past years. We're excited to have the opportunity to try something a little different."

Several artists have long-standing relationships with Art Papers and return to the auction annually, but the organization also chooses to explore other avenues for obtaining work. The nonprofit partners with several organizations, including WonderRoot, MINT, and Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA), that offer prizes, awards, and residencies to artists during the year to find new talent to include in the auction. These groups provide input on who they feel are the "movers and shakers" of the contemporary art community. Recent MOCA GA Working Artist Project winner Sarah Emerson is one of the artists participating as a result.

The auction is split into two separate evenings, which provide inherently different experiences. Up first is the Collector's Preview, which offers a more intimate opportunity for viewers to experience the art and even purchase in advance.

At the Silent Auction and Party on the following evening, interaction with the art will be paired with a performance by DJ Tim DeGroot.

"[The auction] is a great way for people to get introduced to new artists or see some of their favorites, and that's really what we're trying to do; to put together a great event," Benjamin says. "It's almost really an exhibition more than anything — but if you want, you can leave with the work."