By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – The Arts Council of Big Sky will host the sixth annual Auction for the Arts on March 22 from 6 to 10 p.m. at Moonlight Lodge.

The Arts Council’s biggest fundraising event of the year will feature 21 invited, preeminent Western artists in a live auction of works “quick finished” during the evening. Three newcomers—Joe Kronenberg, Pam Caughey and Barbara Schwarz Karst—join the impressive roster of returning artists that includes R. Tom Gilleon, Kevin Red Star, Carol Hagan, Carol Spielman, Tom English, Greg Woodward and many others.

The pieces in the auction cover the gamut of styles—from the most traditional of Western art to highly contemporary works—in the form of paintings, sculpture, glass, jewelry and photographs.

This year the silent auction, which historically has featured a separate group of local artists, has been expanded to include works by the live auction artists, who join the ranks of 20-plus Big Sky area artists, among them Ryan Turner, Heather Rapp, Shelly Bermont, Julie Gustafson and Megan Buecking.

For the first time, the silent auction is a juried selection of works. Artists submitted up to three pieces, the best of which were selected by private art dealer and art historian Curtis Tierney of Bozeman.

“We want to take it up a step,” said ACBS board member and auction chairman Linda Goldinger. “The goal was not to leave anyone out, but to make sure we get their best artwork.”

The event will again include live jazz; inventive food offerings, and the opportunity to observe artists as they put the finishing touches on their work before it is auctioned off before an enthusiastic crowd of bidders.

After the auction, the live music will resume for a dessert reception, giving attendees and artists an additional chance to mingle.

Auxiliary events for VIP ticket-holders include a reception the evening prior hosted by event sponsor, Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty, with guest of honor, Billings artist Carol Hagan. Hagan’s vibrant, contemporary painting “Totem Bear” brought in the highest bid at the 2017 event at $17,000.

R. Tom Gilleon wasn’t too far behind, garnering $15,000 for “Turning Bear,” and contemporary Native American artist Kevin Red Star sold two paintings that brought in a total of $21,000 which was the largest amount by a single artist.

Half of the proceeds from the auction will benefit the Arts Council of Big Sky and the diverse array of programs and cultural enrichment the organization brings to the community. Last year the Auction for the Arts raised over $90,000.

In another exciting addition, VIP tickets also include a chance to win a small-scale painting by Gilleon. The small teepee painting—the subject he is most known for—was donated by the artist and will be raffled off during an artist luncheon at Buck’s T-4 Lodge the day of the event.

“Last year was so much fun,” Goldinger said. “It’s great to see the art work, but I love the interaction with the artists, to get to know them—I think that’s the highlight for me.”

Visit bigskyarts.org or call (406) 995-2742 for tickets and more information.