This Nikita Ares painting could probably cure your seasonal depression.
This Nikita Ares painting could probably cure your seasonal depression. Courtesy of the Artist and SOIL
SOIL's annual art auction is a special event in the Seattle art calendar. Hosted at the Greg Kucera Gallery last year, I remember seeing Seattle artists and art admirers packing out the space, bidding on local artists' works. I nibbled cheese in the corner while I made sure no one outbid me on a piece I wanted.

Because of the pandemic, the event—which pays for 75% of the artist-run gallery's expenses—needed to become more socially distant this year. Instead of an in-person silent auction, SOIL is hosting their 25th auction online. This allows them to remain COVID compliant while still closing the financial gap to keep the gallery around for another year.

"When it became evident that the signature SOIL auction event could not happen in its characteristically festive and robust form, we made the pivot," said Genevieve Tremblay, a SOIL auction committee member. "We really wanted to make sure that our virtual event was infused with the same convivial spirit that SOIL has been known for in its amazing 25 year history."

Masquerade: A Not So Silent Auction launched last Sunday with a virtual Kickoff Variety Hour hosted by SOIL member Forrest Perrine. The hour-long event—which you can now stream on YouTube—featured lots of fun and awkward masked banter as well as pre-recorded interviews with some of the 50+ artists featured in the auction. Stranger favorite Nikita Ares spoke about her practice and color-drenched view of the world while Emily Counts detailed the role magic plays in her dreamy, symbol-ridden objects.

I would really love to take a biet into Philippe Hyojung Kims pastel challah bread.
I would really love to take a bite into Philippe Hyojung Kim's pastel challah bread. Courtesy of the Artist and SOIL

The process of bidding online is pretty simple. Register here, view the available works online, and either "buy now" or bid on the piece of your choosing. The auction closes on December 13 at 7 pm, and if you win you can stop by the gallery from December 18-20 to pick up your piece. While there's a gallery walk-through video available online, you can also look at the works in-person during SOIL's regular hours, as galleries are allowed to remain open under COVID-19 retail guidelines.

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So far, SOIL has raised more than $15,000 in straight donations and is close to $40,000 in overall donations. They say that based on these numbers, the Pioneer Square gallery seems to be on track for another year, despite the restrictions that have pushed a lot of art spaces out of existence.

"It is a challenging time for every non-profit and cultural organization," said Tremblay. "Despite this period of constraints, people feel very strongly about supporting their communities. Meeting this moment, showing up with resilience and fortitude and 'putting the show on,' so to speak was important as we mark SOIL's 25th anniversary."

Masquerade: A Not So Silent Auction featuring works by Nikita Ares, Colleen RJC Bratton, Drie Chapek, Emily Counts, Etsuko Ichikawa, Philippe Hyojung Kim, Natalie Krick, Leah Nguyen, Rafael Soldi, Joey Veltkamp, Ko Kirk Yamahira, and many more will be up and running until December 13, 7 pm. Don't miss it!