This was the annual fundraiser for the 4-H of Highland County and featured a country dinner for ten dollars, a silent auction with many donations, and a live auction conducted by professional auctioneers. You know about these guys, the ones that talk a mile a minute and take your bid if you so much as flinch.
I was happy to meet Roy Neal and his wife Mary and see their deed to their farm, dated 1854, which Roy found in the attic. I’ll write a blog about that special piece of Ohio history. Roy’s painting sold five days before the even!
Ten of my paintings were in the auction, five in a silent auction and five in the live auction, all but two framed in barn wood from the barn in the painting. Because I wanted to donate half of the proceeds to the 4-H and because the 4-H did not want to take payment for all the paintings and then issue me a check for half, I simply donated five (which raised $1700) and privately sold the other five. The net result was that the 4-H got about 60% of the total raised by the paintings.
When Jeff Parry, the head of the 4-H fundraiser committee, asked me to say a few words to the audience, I commented that my paintings and essays were not just about raising money for the 4-H, which was wonderful, but also – and mostly – about preserving early Ohio history. Fortunately, the Times Gazette newspaper published weekly articles about the paintings and the essays about the barns, which the Highland County residents enjoyed. The articles also increased attendance at the event.
The five paintings that I donated were placed in the live auction and bidding for them began at $250, which I suggested. I figured the frame was worth that much, especially because some of the barns I painted had or would be dismantled – and, with them, a little bit of Ohio history would be lost. But the painting, its wooden frame, and the essay would survive. So, $250 seemed right.
Now, many who live in our big cities and affluent suburbs might think that rural folks don’t appreciate art and certainly can’t afford to pay for it, even if the cause is a good one. Wrong! The bidding and prices realized for my paintings proved that those who live in the country not only appreciate art, the history of barns, and the rustic wood frames but also can afford to purchase such art. Let me explain.
Two friends of mine who could not attend the event wanted me to bid for them. They gave me generous limits. Actually I sold the eleventh painting to one of them before the auction since I felt bad that he couldn’t attend and since he was originally from Highland County and had an appreciation for barns. So, a rookie at bidding in an auction, I flashed my paddle several times and bid on four paintings for my friends. But I got only one, which surprised me, since their bids, as I mentioned, were generous. After the event finished, I talked to a lady who bid against me and won a painting. She told me she would have kept on bidding forever to get that painting. So, there you go, suburbanites. Don’t make assumptions about what rural folks can afford.
The prices of the paintings ranged from $125 in the silent auction to $525 in the live auction. The total raised by the event came to about $6000; so my paintings raised nearly a third of that. With such a great response, I decided that I would continue to paint the barns of Highland County and raise money for their historical society next year since that group connected me with Sandy and her husband Tim who graciously took me on tours of barns, gave me histories of many, and convinced the owners to supply barn wood for the frames.
Jeff Gilliland of the Times Gazette wrote a recap article about the event, which you can read by clicking here. For a pdf, click here for page one and here for page two.