Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poetry Scores Art Invitational FAQ

I've been receiving some questions about this year's Poetry Scores Art Invitational, which is a good sign -- new people must be hearing about it. So here is an FAQ.

When does it start? How late will you be there?
The Art Invitational is an art auction. Doors and bidding in the silent auction open at 6 p.m. this Friday, November 11 at Mad Art Gallery. As bidding wars take shape, we will go live with the auction on the contested pieces. We expect to start moving to live auctions some time after 7 p.m. and have all art sold around 9 p.m. The party is likely to last until 10 p.m. or even later.

Where is this place?
Mad Art is located at 2727 So. 12th Street in Soulard. It's in a former police station, so look for the POLICE sign. Mad Art has extensive directions on its website. From downtown St. Louis, go south on Tucker/12th Street. Just under 44, Gravois darts off to the right and 12th Street continues to the left with a left turn. Go left and drive on 12th Street through Soulard towards the A-B brewery, and Mad Art is on your right just as you near the brewery. It's on the south edge of Soulard, east of 55.

Does it cost anything?
It's free to come in. There is a cash bar. (Contributing artists get two free drink tickets each.) If you bid on art and win, you'll need to be prepared to pay that night and take your art home with you. We accept cash, check and credit payments.

How does this thing work?
Poetry Scores has asked more than 50 artists to make art inspired by the same poem. The artists are required to title their piece after a quote from the poem. We then hang the work in the space according to where in the flow of the poem the language chosen for the title appears. Poetry Scores is dedicated to translating poetry into other media -- in this case, visual media.

How does the whole bidding thing work?
It's easy. Next to each art work is a tag with the artist name and title of the piece. On a table near each piece will be a bid sheet, identified by artist name and title, that states the opening bid price for the piece. If you are the first bidder, just bid the opening price or anything above it. If there is a previous bid, then beat it. Add your phone number and email address to be safe, but don't go anywhere. Watch your bid sheets. As bidding wars get going, we will move to live auctions right in front of the piece that is moving to live auction. Be prepared to compete in the live auction until there is a sale. If there is no live auction, then all silent auctions will be concluded at 9 p.m. Be prepared to pay as soon as bidding on your piece is closed.

What if I have the high bid but I need to leave?
Make sure all of your contact information is on the bid sheet. Tell someone at the pay station you are leaving but want the piece(s) where you are high bidder and will settle up right away. If you really want the piece, tell the person at the pay station to appoint a proxy bidder for you and set a proxy bid ceiling (how high you are willing to do) in writing with the pay station.

Isn't original art expensive? Can I afford anything?

Original art is expensive, by many consumer standards, for good reasons. Because our Art Invitationals tend to attract other artists, we get a high-concept but typically low-income crowd. Therefore, each year we encourage our artists to set their opening bid low, in the $50 or $75 range. Many (but not all) artists go along with these ridiculously low opening bid prices, or even lower prices, though it's an auction, so the price can climb. All told, most people agree that our show is the art bargain of the year in St. Louis. We like it that way; we'd rather make less money and see all of the art go home with buyers than make a killing off a few sales at gallery prices.

Is this a benefit? For who? For what?
Proceeds from all sales are split evenly three ways: between the artist, the gallery and Poetry Scores. This limits how much we benefit, but it reflects our cooperative spirit. The portion that goes to Poetry Scores will be used to release our projects. We also translate poetry into music (i.e., poetry scores) and movies. At the moment, we need to reprint one poetry score CD that is sold out (Stefene Russell, Go South for Animal Index) and are producing a new movie (in fact, based on the same poem, Go South).

That sounds great, but I can't make it on Friday. Can I bid anyway?
Yes! We accept proxy bid ceilings. Here is how that works. You tell us how much you are willing to spend (set a proxy bid ceiling) and what you are looking for (particular artists, styles, colors, etc.). We will appoint a proxy bidder to manage your money conservatively, inching up on bids up to your bid ceiling. We then collect upon delivery of your new art if you win. Email Chris King at to establish a proxy bid ceiling.

This sounds great. I want to support it but have no use for original art. Can I donate? Is it tax-deductible?
Yes, and yes. Poetry Scores is a Missouri non-profit corporation with 501(c)3 federal tax status. All donations to the organization are tax-deductible. Contact creative director Chris King at

My kid (nephew, niece) went to a SCOSAG workshop and has art in this show. That's what I want to see. Where is the kids' art?
This year, for the first time Poetry Scores partnered with the South City Open Studios and Gallery (SCOSAG) to involve children in the show. Seven children were signed up for a workship where they made drawings of things mentioned in the poem -- honey, salmon, nightmarish, bride, three frogs' karoake; you name it. Each of the seven child artists has at least one piece in the "big people's show" hung in the main space of the gallery. Like all of the art, their drawings are hung depending on where in the poem their titles appear. The rest of the children's art is hung according to the same principles inside the jail cell in the hallway between the front door and the main space.

Is the kids' art treated like the adults' art in terms of the auction?
Yes and no. The child's art in the main space will be auctioned off like the rest of the art in the show. Bid on your drawing and pay attention for when the auction goes live. The child's art in the jail cell costs $2 each. Just take the drawing you want and bring it to the pay station in the main space to pay.

Any other quesions? Email Thanks!

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