Christopher Buening's ceramic head is bigger IRL.
Christopher Buening's ceramic head is bigger IRL. Courtesy of SOIL

SOIL's annual art auction is one of my favorite events on the Seattle art calendar, namely because it functions both as a fundraiser for an excellent artist-run gallery AND as a well-curated showcase for some of the best artists currently working in the city. And now, after a year off, the auction is back and better than ever.

While there's nothing I would love more than to don my (fake) furs, swirl wine, and watch art collectors competitively raise their paddles in support of local art IRL, the virus demands an alternative. So, in this shaky stage of the pandemic, Meet Us In The Afterglow: SOIL Auction 2022 will once again take a hybrid approach in lieu of a silent in-person auction.

The month-long event—which funds around 70% of SOIL's overhead costs—will be a mixture of in-person and virtual; interested parties can come and view the for-sale works in the gallery, but the bidding will take place online. The auction-cum-exhibition runs until April 30, and it is an essential part of keeping this freaky and fun gallery open to all.

"In spite of SOIL show cancellations and other disruptions we are proud to say we kept the gallery lights on and creative things happening inside for the entire year," wrote a SOIL member representative in a statement to The Stranger, noting that membership was at an all-time high. Currently, the gallery has raised close to $20,000, with a goal of $30,000 by the auction's end.

Meet Us In The Afterglow kicked off two weeks ago, and it is comprised of works by over 50 Seattle-area artists. The SOIL rep said there is a surprising number of ceramic pieces in the show that "range from sculptural to functional to 3D printed." They highlighted Daniel Clauson's "Recollection of the Rip Tides," describing it as a "beautiful expression of the bodily experience of the pacific northwest." I felt particularly drawn to Christopher Buening's verdant and kinda hairy "Empty Head" vase (depicted above), a piece in his series of planter pots made to look human, which debuted just before the pandemic hit in 2020.

I love the use of contrasting material.
I love the use of contrasting material. Courtesy of SOIL

Also of note are the large numbers of vivid and bright paintings and multimedia objects in the show. On a recent walkthrough during April's Pioneer Square Art Walk, I couldn't look away from Colleen RJC Bratton's "Pyrophile." Referencing a type of plant that needs fire to complete its reproduction cycle, the piece emulates fire's cycle of destruction and regeneration with flame-colored knitting material wrapped in a spiral around the wooden panel. I love the fire hands in the center, seemingly nurturing a small squiggle of life. Similarly, I fell head first into Nikita Ares's juicy, psychedelic nightscape and also into the thick, vibrant brushstrokes of Cable S Griffith's woods.

Just like in 2020, the bidding process is straightforward—register your account, peruse the works available, and either bid on a piece or "buy it now" if you've got the funds. To all my other online shopping hounds, the site will notify you if you've been outbid, and it gives you the option to bid in increments, kinda like eBay. The auction closes on April 30 at 5 pm, and winners can pick up their pieces at SOIL from May 6-8.

Meet Us In The Afterglow features work from barry johnson, Emily Counts, Christopher Buening, Daniel Clauson, Colleen RJC Bratton, Nikita Ares, Cable S Griffith, Margie Livingston, Tyna Ontko, Kiki MacInnis, Jeffrey Mitchell, and many many more. There is still tons of work up for grabs—don't miss out! Get more information here, and watch an instructional video on the auction below: