Sunday, May 29, 2011

Prez. Hall Birdhouse Auction: For Kids, too!

For two years I've known the Wellfleet Preservation Hall Birdhouse Auction appeals to adults, both year-rounders and non-residents alike, because it unites whimsy with practicality, and gets the creative juices running REAL good .... I've always had a suspicion that the auction could be even more fun for kids, especially after a young lady outbid me on my favorite birdhouse last year. So, for 2011 I attended with Kaarina, who provided the proof I needed. Kids love auctions, too. She got right into it and ended up taking two birdhouses home, one for herself, and one for her grandma.

Kaarina was here from Pennsylvania for Memorial Day weekend. Her mom is a friend of mine. We first checked out the houses up for live auction at noon, displayed on the Prez. Hall back lawn. There were many beauties. Kaarina admired "Birdville," above, by Ed Christie, which had spent several weeks on display in Prez. Hall, and later sold for $1600. Then she zeroed in on Robert Riddler's "Alphabet House.""We have a shot at the alphabet house because it's so unusual," she told her mom giddily. Little did they know the artist has had a show of recovered plastic objects up in Provincetown over the past month or two. The house sold for $220, above Kaarina's budget.

I liked Celeste Makeley's "Community Chicken Coop," which included hen & chicks perennials, and reminded us all that the Prez. Hall Chicken Coop Tour will take place next month. This eco-birdhouse would sell for a mere $75. Another birdhouse that spoke to me was "Tazza on the Roof," created by Nancy Carlucci who specified that it contained memories of "Naples in 1930, Nantucket in 1906, Hell's Kitchen Flea in 1960 and Mrs. Ciampi's Rose." Nancy used much skill to unite the pieces of broken porcelain and tile. A tea-cup was perched saucily on the roof. This birdhouse went for $500.

But back to Kaarina and her mom. They had discovered the birdhouses for silent auction, displayed this year inside the hall, on the stage, downstairs. In no time, my little guest had figured out how the bidding worked and written her name on two sheets of paper. The butterfly house seemed like the perfect present for grandma, who is an artist. "Grandma likes paintings and it's the colors she uses when she does paintings," Kaarina told me. In the photo below, Tracy Plaut, one of the organizers, explains a few details about a sticker house to Kaarina.

People jostled at the stage with last-minute bids as Bruce Bierhans announced three more minutes, then one, then counted down seconds. I held my breath for the last minute because the butterfly house had suddenly drawn a new admirer. The couple was not quick enough though. The silent auction ended, and Kaarina had won the butterfly house for her grandma.

Once the silent auction was over, we proceeded upstairs for the live auction, mc-ed by none other than Seth Rolbein. He reminded the crowd that Prez. Hall still carries a $500,000 loan debt and hopes to soon "be like the birds, free of debt." Kaarina valiantly raised her paper plate for certain items but to no avail. The follow-up bids were too high. Seth even called her, "my favorite bidder so far." Tracy Plaut teased two auction-goers into a bidding war for a fabulous birdhouse, called "Dancers," painted by Dorothy Strauss. It went for $550. (In the photo to the right, Tracy gets some assistance from a young friend.)

The crowd seemed nonplussed when Seth presented what he called "a house for modern birds," in hommage no doubt to the modern houses of Cape Cod that are being lovingly restored by the CCMHT. Seth asked for an opening bid of $100 and received none. He paused to reconsider. Perhaps the modern house would be taken off the block? Unable to make up his mind, he offered it at $75. Kaarina's plate shot into the air. "Sold!" cried Seth. Kaarina became the proud owner of a marvelous modern house for birds, with swimming pool and deck chairs. Now I have to take her over to Northeast Pond to see the real thing!