Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Patrons' Show

people lining up for Patron Show
If you were crazy enough to be hanging around Old Town Alexandria about 4 AM on a cold morning last month you would have noticed people forming a long line in the brutal cold outside the Torpedo Factory. They were waiting for a chance to get original art for their collections – or perhaps some brave souls starting to collect art.

"A line for art?" you must be asking, "who is crazy enough to freeze lining up at Oh-dark-thirty just to buy artwork?"


They were lining up for one of the great art deals of the year: the Annual Patrons' Show. It's very simple: artists donate original artwork to the Art League, who inspects it, selects it and often frames it. It is quality stuff, ranging from huge abstracts to delicate pencil drawings. The Art League represents nearly 1,200 artists in the area, so there's plenty of possible sources of art donated by generous artists.

It is one of the largest art events in the country, with around 600 original works of art finding a new home in one day.

people lining up for Patron ShowUsually about 600 pieces are donated and hung salon style in the Art League’s gallery on the first floor of the Factory. Then raffle tickets go up for sale at 10 AM, and they usually disappear within an hour or two; and each ticket equals a guaranteed a work of art.

And on Sunday, February 20, people who have a ticket begin gathering into the main floor of the Factory and they bring chairs, tables, food and loads of booze,as it will be a long, loud, fun, cheery and boozy evening as the tickets are drawn at random, and as they are called, ticket-holders select a piece of art from the work on display on the walls.

The first ticket called gets the first choice and so on. You better pick one quickly, or the crowds begin to shout and whistle and demand a choice be made.

It is without a doubt, the most sought after art ticket in town, and often incredible acquisitions are made. While 500 tickets for the show sold out within a couple of hours after going on sale last month, the Art League keeps a waiting list (and continues to sell more tickets, as they become available when more artists donate work, through Feb. 20). In addition, "First Choice!" raffle tickets will be on sale in the gallery Feb. 10-20.

Call the Art League at 703/683-1780.