By Katie Lovett
---- — While it’s common to see artists at work, painting scenes of various spots across the city, next Saturday they will be especially hard to miss.
The annual Wet Paint Auction, a benefit for Newburyport’s Commission for Diversity and Tolerance, will be held at Mission Oak Grill’s Steeple Hall on Sept. 29, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
The popular fundraiser will feature nearly 40 artists from throughout the Greater Newburyport area, organizer Kathleen Shaw said. They will each spend the day creating a painting to be auctioned that evening. The artists can choose to paint at their studios or “en plein air” (outdoors).
Artists who set up an easel outside to work will hang orange flags or signs stating that he or she is working on a piece for the wet paint auction, Shaw said.
The goal is to pique the interest of passers-by who see the artists at work and draw them into attending the auction to bid on the finished piece, she added.
“It’s amazing what people can create in a day,” Shaw said. “It’s phenomenal.”
Among those set to take part is prominent Newburyport artist Robert Scott Jackson. The internationally known artist has been a member of prestigious art clubs such as The Copley Society Of Boston and is a Copley Master. Jackson is a graduate of Vesper George School of Art in Boston.
“We’re glad he is returning (to the auction),” Shaw said.
He will be joined by fellow artists BJ Beck, Alan Bull, Audrey Bechler, Cynthia Cooper, Christine Molitor Johnson, Karen Jones, Marjet Lesk, Pat Lutz, Beverly Mitchell, Susan Spellman, Ellen Sullivan Taylor and Jacob Towle, among others.
A preview of the paintings, as well as a silent auction, will begin at 6:30 p.m. with entertainment provided by classical guitarist Donna Ricci.
The live auction of the freshly completed paintings will get under way at 7:30 with Newburyport’s John Budzyna serving as the auctioneer. “He’s got really great energy,” Shaw said. “He’ll be a lot of fun.”
Artists are required to submit their paintings by 4 p.m. so they can be hung. True to its name, the paintings are still drying as the auction gets under way, Shaw said.
“They are still kind of wet,” she said. “Oils take longer to dry. We have to be very careful.”
Attendees can peruse a wide selection of other mediums during the silent auction as well, including photography, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, metal works, and fine prints.
The proceeds from the evening are divided between the artists and the Newburyport Friends for Peace, the fundraising arm of the Commission for Diversity and Tolerance. The fundraiser began several decades ago and initially raised money for the Women’s Crisis Center and the No Place for Hate program, Shaw said.
The commission funds various initiatives by local social service agencies, community programs and area schools that seek mini-grants. It also awards the annual Peace Prize to a deserving member of the community. The commission’s goal is to eliminate prejudice, discrimination and acts of hate in the city.
Meanwhile, Shaw continues to post about the evening on her Facebook page, where she likes to call it “the social event of the fall season.”
“It’s a fun night for a good cause,” she said. “And you don’t have to get overly dressed up either.”
IF YOU GO
What: Wet Paint Art Auction to benefit Commission for Diversity and Tolerance
When: Saturday, Sept. 29, 7:30 p.m. (preview begins at 6:30 with silent auction)
Steeple Hall at the Mission Oak Grill, 26 Green St., Newburyport
How: $30. Tickets can be purchased at the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank.