Would you like to have a fun evening out,  the chance to view and maybe purchase  wonderful art created by some of Salem’s talented artists, and feel great about supporting a valuable community resource?  If so, the second “All Fired Up For Art” benefit auction is for you!

What would life be like without art?  Empty, dull, less civilized, less—human.  Art makes us better people. It gives a voice to feelings, engages our imaginations, and brings beauty, joy, and hope.  Wendy Steinberg, this year’s coordinator of Willamette Art Center’s “All Fired Up For Art” observes “there is almost nothing in our life, from buildings to clothing, that at some point has not been touched by an artist or designer.”  Art helps children develop hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills, and self esteem.  It gives adults a chance to exercise creativity and reduce stress.  Unfortunately, art programs have been severely cut in public schools,  and time and cash-strapped adults sometimes give up activities they love.  WAC is working hard to buffer some of that loss.

The Willamette Art Center (WAC) is the business face of The Friends of the Visual Arts,  an independent non-profit organization which was formed when the only community art center in Salem closed in 2006.  A group of 12 displaced potters banded together to form the non-profit, and found a home on the Oregon State Fair Grounds. Programming is focused in three main areas: access to the arts, promoting the arts, and improving the community. WAC classes, workshops, Family Clay Sunday, studio availability and Artist in Schools programs offer the community access to the arts. The Friends strive to improve the community through collaborative programming, cultural partnerships, and fundraising such as the Empty Bowls event which benefits Marion-Polk Food Share. The arts are promoted through the WAC Oaks Gallery and Gallery challenges and by running the Artisans’ Village for the Oregon State Fair.

Of course all this takes money, which is where the “All Fired Up” benefit comes in.  It is the only benefit WAC runs for its own programs. After a successful start last year, “All Fired Up” is returning on Saturday June 25th, 7-9pm, in the Santiam Room at the Salem Convention Center.

“All Fired Up”  will be a silent auction, with hors d’oeuvres, a no-host bar, and music by well known Portland keyboard artist Linda Smith.  Steinberg wants people to be aware that this is a family-friendly event, and this year’s event features a table of items made by children participating in WAC’s programs, who made one piece for themselves and generously made a second to be auctioned.

In addition to ceramic pieces from WAC artists, art donated by artists in the community includes everything from paintings in a range of media to a metal sculpture by Jim Johnson.   Steinberg estimates that there will be between 50-75 pieces available to bid on by the time of the event.  She is grateful for the support of the local art community, and says many of the participating artists have made a piece especially for the Auction.

Tickets for “All Fired Up” can be purchased on WAC’s website for $25, and will be available at the door for $30. Steinberg encourages everyone to come, if only for the chance to see  amazing art and learn about what WAC offers.  As she says “everyone can make art.” It is important that they have an opportunity to do so.