Monday, May 28, 2012

Wellfleet Prez. Hall Holds Birdhouse Auction

Prez. Hall held its fourth annual birdhouse auction yesterday to benefit our community center, and the pickings were good. I’m telling you, this auction was one not to miss. How not to snap up new housing for local birds? There were many great condos available, not to mention the occasional three-decker, or, as auctioneer Seth Rolbein put it, “three residential nesting places.” But let’s start at the beginning ...

For once, Sven came to check out the sixty birdhouses on display. Since he doesn’t like crowds, we went early. My husband was amazed by the diversity and the creativity of the artists. Being practical, he noticed that most of the birdhouses did not open to facilitate clean-out. What bird in his right mind wants a dirty home or, for that matter, a place where previous owners did not bother to clean up after themselves? We pointed this fact out to the organizers, so who knows,
perhaps next year latches and hinges will be more prevalent? The truth is that many of the birdhouses do not actually end up outdoors, as accommodation for our feathered friends. Some owners decide to hang these works of art on porches or in living rooms, as decoration. Be that as it may, I always get a kick out of this event which presents the opportunity to see old friends and make new ones, while raising money for our community center.

As usual, I did some eavesdropping during the first hour:

“This is way cool!” (Deep Sea Buoy by Chris Brown)

“I haven’t gotten past this one. What is it exactly?” (Butterfly Mansion by John Walsh)

“This one will attract wrens – the little tiny birds.”

“Do you know Bob?” “I do.” (Smack, smack.)

“Just a little brush and a little dab, or a lot of brushes and a lot of dabs?”

This last remark came from Sarah Curley, admiring Robert Rindler’s Confetti, which sold later, at auction, for $150.
Sarah owns The Furies, a cleaning service, and felt grateful to get away from the Memorial Weekend crush for an hour of welcome distraction and whimsy. Amy Samuelson bid on several different birdhouses during the silent auction. Here she is, putting her John Hancock on the dotted line. Dina Harris was pleased to leave with a Born in The USA-themed house created by “Bruce Birdstein.”

At noon, Nicholas Guide invited everyone upstairs where Anne Suggs welcomed the bidders to the live auction.
“We hope you will go home with something fun that inspires you to come again,” Anne said, adding, “The birdhouses this year have been crafted by both grandmothers and preschoolers.” (To the right, “Collage Collaboration,” which sold for $100.)

Auctioneer Seth Rolbein spiced up the event with quips like “Preservation Hall will stand until Pilgrim melts” or “Any bird would be proud to live in this one” – and occasionally broke into song. (Seth’s day job finds him assisting Senator Dan Wolf.)
In the photo to the left, Nancy O’Connell holds up “Crayola Crib for the Colorful Bird” by elementary school principal Mary Beth Rodman. Rodman’s birdhouse kicks off the new “Centennial Fund” to support scholarships for Prez. Hall events. Anne Suggs told me that the Prez. Hall board took a photo of this intricate creation and will approach Crayola for a grant to help fund kids’ art programming at the hall.
“We want to do more,” she said. “We want to be able to pay the instructors during spring break, and perhaps build something for summer.” Is an art camp to nurture future Selena Trieffs in Prez. Hall’s future? Could be. (“Crayola Crib for the Colorful Bird” sold for $260.) The most sought-after birdhouse was created by this famous Wellfleet artist and went for $1000.
The most clever promotion was Kevin Rice’s (The New) Payomet Tent, a steal at $175, with the bonus of two preferred tickets to Payomet concerts this summer. The most eco-conscious was “Twisted” by Tracy Plaut, who repurposed salvaged, gnarled lilac trunks.
“Twisted” sold for $175. One of my favorites was “Uncola,” a contribution by artist Lauren Wolk, who signed her work with a flourish. It went for $350. This photo does not do justice to the fine craftsmanship. As you will have noticed, each birdhouse sports a clever name. Provincetown artist Adam Peck donated “For the Birds,” another winner in my book for its classic lines, a birdhouse that would have merited housing birds at the Cape Cod Modern House Trust Kugel/Gips house. "For the Birds" sold for $250.
The bidding on Vincent Amicosante’s “Weather or Not,” left, reached $425. Works of similar size by Vincent are way more expensive at the Harmon Gallery.

On average, birdhouses were selling for around $40 at the silent auction and $100 at the live auction, if you do not count the three most popular items.

Of course, it would be impossible to share all the marvelous birdhouses. Next year, come see for yourself.

This morning Marla Rice informed me that the Birdhouse Auction raised "$10,600, plus sponsorship monies!"

Be sure to mark your 2013 calendar for the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, so you, too, can own a colorful Prez. Hall birdhouse and support Wellfleet's community center.