Missouri River Relief raises funds with art auction

The second “Big Muddy Art Auction” gathered local businesses, artists and community members who shared a love for art and the environment.


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Missouri River Relief put together its second Big Muddy Art Auction on the evening of March 14. The event was a fundraiser to help the nonprofit’s clean-up programs and to showcase local artists.

Orr Street Studios was filled with community members ready to buy local art for a cause. Melanie Cheney, office manager of Missouri River Relief, recalled that the first edition of the auction had a lot of people interested and wanting more.

“We have such a great community here, in our organization and around the Missouri River,” Cheney said. “We’ve had an overwhelming amount of support and so many submissions of art.”

The live auction consisted of 24 pieces, mainly from local artists. There are also 17 works to be auctioned exclusively online between March 14 and March 21. Many of the pieces had a local theme and mostly depicted the Missouri River area.

During the live auction, 22 of the 24 pieces were sold, all for a higher price than their initial bid.

Some of the artists were present during the auction, bidding for their colleagues’ artwork. One of them was Carl Orazio, an environmental chemist and an artist who brought his passions together in his piece “Boathenge Revisited.” The painting was sold during the auction and depicts an art installation that Orazio co-authored, located by the margins of the Missouri River: the Boathenge. The installation consists of five colorful boats standing upright by the river, mimicking the stone pillars of Stonehenge.

“Carl set up an easel in a field on his family’s farm down by the Missouri River,” Orazio said in a brief written description he kept by the artwork. “[The painting is] taking a fresh look at a local monument that pays tribute to adventure and discovery along the Big Muddy.”

Missouri River Relief intended to split the proceeds of each painting with its creator, but many of the artists donated 100 percent of the final price to the nonprofit, including The Daves, the band that played during the event.

“I tried to pay the band earlier and they just signed the check back over to us,” Cheney said. “We just have great musicians like this in Columbia.”

The event also had food and beverage donations from local businesses such as Logboat Brewing and Les Bourgeois Vineyards. Orr Street Studios also donated the space for the second time, after the first successful version of the Big Muddy Art Auction three years ago.

“We certainly have a full house tonight,” Cheney said. “Everybody here loves the art community, our organization and a good party.”

Edited by Janae McKenzie | jmckenzie@themaneater.com

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