This Sunday evening, October 9, is the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW)’s 33rd annual Benefit Auction of Contemporary and Classic Photographs, a now-legendary drawing together of great works and their creators that in turn pulls out bids from the owners of key photo collections and those wishing to jump into the world of art ownership at a somewhat-less-hefty level than buying paintings or sculpture entails.
On Sunday, October 9, CPW then holds its annual Benefit Gala, where the photo world gathers to honor one of its own, this year being time for recognition of Fred Baldwin and Wendy Watriss, founders of one of photography’s great annual events: the Houston-based FotoFest, started a quarter-century ago. Given the couple’s standing as photographers, and the monthlong, citywide biennial FotoFest’s role as a central gathering place for those interested or invested in photography – including its much-imitated four day Meeting Place, where rising artists get their portfolios of work reviewed by top gallerists, publishers and other artists – this is expected to be a major regional event, albeit of a specialized nature.
As much a social as a sales and fundraising event, the auction has whittled down its offerings in recent years to approximately 75 individual works, carefully chosen to represent the best available on the market. Among the works to be bid on will be pieces by such classics as Berenice Abbott, Lilo Raymond and Dennis Stock, along with hot new artists working in the photographic medium such as Dawood Bey, Lynn Davis, John Dugdale, Kenro Izo, Mary Ellen Mark, Portia Munson, Martin Schoeller, Stephen Shore, Christian Witkin and William Wegman (of Fay and Man Ray fame).
Given how many of those represented live in the general area, one starts to get a sense of the star-power that will be on hand all weekend at and around the Bearsville Theater, where the auction takes place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Saturday night and the Benefit Gala and awards ceremony takes place on Sunday afternoon from 3 to 7 p.m., complete with cocktails and food.
The Vision Award, which will be presented to Baldwin and Watriss for their work centering the photo world and championing so many younger artists, recognizes individuals who have made key contributions as artists or professionals to the field, and has in the past gone to the likes of Dugdale and Raymond, CPW founding directors Colleen and Kathleen Kenyon, Howard Greenberg, Neil Trager and current CPW board president W. M. Hunt. By what’s on view (and sale) here, as well as the nature of who’s honored, one gets a sense of just why this world continues separate, yet tied to all else going on in art. It has got its own reality, yet it also speaks to more than just galleries and simply art.
Works to be auctioned have been on view at CPW’s galleries on Tinker Street in Woodstock over the past few weeks, where they can be seen through Friday, October 8. For further information, including an online catalogue of what can be bid on, visit www.cpw.org or call (845) 679-9957. The Bearsville Theater is located on Route 212, Tinker Street, a couple of miles west of the Woodstock village center.