On Thursday, November 15, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design Graduate Department sponsored its inaugural silent and live auction Night In The Box, with all of MassArt's proceeds benefiting graduate scholarships. A distinctly separate event from their main auction, held each Spring in the Paine and Bakalar galleries, this event was held on the former site of the Social Security Administration in Somerville. As indicated in their press release: "The name of the event Night in the Box refers to the punishment which befalls the title character of the novel (1966) and film (1967) Cool Hand Luke, made famous by Paul Newman as the ultimate anti-establishment anti-hero, whose infringement of prison rules lands him a dreaded "night in the box."
MassArt's selection of Greater Boston and NYC-based jurors, Camilo Alvarez, Dina Deitsch, and Kanishka Raja contributed to the appeal of the event. An addition to the night included an online pre-bidding and sales option via Paddle 8, a truly unique way to preview the works on display and get a head start on the competition. It was exciting to see some big pieces sell outright with the ‘Buy It Now’ option for 150% of the artist’s fair estimated value. The first to go was Nick Sullivan’s Chopper, snapped up by a buyer from Puerto Rico.
With 10,000 square feet of low-pile beige carpet, replete with distinct lines where cubicles once sat, the venue was a vivid departure from the typical auction space. Metal support poles throughout the room evoked a basement setting, while a busy transit stop sat directly out front. The fluorescent light was ever present, bouncing off the freshly painted white walls, blaring directly from typical drop ceiling, panels missing, as expected. For the entrance fee of fifty dollars per person, music, finger food and drinks were served complimentary.
By and large, the auction was a success in that it exhibited some excellent works by many talented young artists. Although final numbers have yet to be been announced, sources say between $25,000 — $30,000 were raised. I look forward to watching the development of Night in the Box. This time next year, I hope to see more feet on the floor and more paddles in the air.
All photos © Ryan Arthurs