From left, Eve and Jill Shpritser show an example of
Jill’s work. A different work has been donated for the Aug. 27 Canadian
Hadassah-WIZO Art Auction. [Heather Solomon photo]
How does an event that’s cemented itself in public memory break free to win over a changed society? Easy. Keep what worked, toss the staid, and appeal to the snap-change visual attention span of the computer generation.
The Canadian Hadassah-WIZO Montreal (CHW) Art Auction is a reincarnation of the venerable Herman Abramowitz chapter’s November art auctions that had connoisseurs leisurely lingering on Eaton’s ninth floor during a week of viewing before the gently aging Windsor Hotel welcomed the works for the gala charity sale.
Under the gavel of auctioneer Ross Paperman, the auction is still the focus of the evening – switched to Aug. 27 at the Hotel Nelligan in Old Montreal – but viewing is now a two-hour look-fest from 6-8 p.m.
Gone is the sit-down dinner. These days, people are on the go and a conga line of waiters with trays will snake through the crowd, offering hot hors d’oeuvres to complement the open bar.
Reality shows are all the rage, and here’s where one feature of the evening caters to the act of art, rather than just to what’s on the walls. Performance artist Eric Waugh will paint to music in a live art experience.
An additional silent auction and a posh raffle have been included. The main auction features paintings, sculptures, original prints, art glass and mixed media.
One kudo to the past is in the person of the honoree, artist Norman Laliberté, who has participated in and supported Hadassah causes for many decades. His brightly coloured, sewn banners and paintings are the stuff of Montreal legend, and he’s well-known as a sculptor, designer, illustrator and printmaker.
In fact, the first 100 holders of “honoree package” tickets stand a chance to win a signed, framed Laliberté print, and they all receive a signed book.
All 60 participating artists are donating a good chunk of the proceeds to CHW-supported hospitals, daycares, women’s shelters and other projects in Israel.
“We hope to bring in $100,000 net profit this year,” says Jill Shpritser, executive director of CHW Montreal.
One of the surprises is that Jill’s sister Eve Shpritser is among the featured artists, and is also working on the auction’s steering committee. Unlike the rarefied aura of most art market proponents, she is out to democratize the ownership of paintings.
Though the large acrylic composition for the auction is an original from her hand, she runs a company called Palit Inc., which specializes in affordable reproductions.
“I worked for a framing company for 17 years that sold framed reproduction prints. I painted for their art section, which was a much smaller part of the company, and it gave me confidence to go out on my own,” Eve Shpritser says.
Her concept is to make paintings as popular as prints by bringing them within the reach of all art lovers. Her main profits come from supplying large orders to hotels, restaurants, and furniture and accessory stores, and she fills these orders by shipping her original paintings to Shenzhen, China, to be copied in multiples.
“We have a small factory for the painters and a big warehouse where they do all the stretching. They paint each canvas and stretch them after. I don’t know how they do that! I personally paint on stretched canvas,” Eve Shpritser says.
“I’ve been to China three times so far and will be going more often. The 15-hour plane ride is the worst part. Our agent there speaks fluent English. If I can’t communicate what I want, I’ll paint with them and show them. What I do is trendy and commercial. I have to know that it’s going to sell.”
For still lifes, she’ll place the subject in the centre of the canvas where it has an emblematic presence. Simplified shapes, easily grasped by the eye, are enriched by wax textures and metallic pigment. Abstracts are pleasing geometrics that radiate clarity.
“We just did 10 different styles for the hotel half of the 27-storey Hotel Le Crystal de la Montagne [which is part condominiums]. Each floor will have all different paintings, but the next floor might have the same. It’s all exclusive for them. I’d never reproduce it for anyone else.”
Shpritser works daily in her St. Patrick Street studio/warehouse.
“I’m always creating something. Painting for the auction is much freer,” she says. “I can paint something more in me.”
For tickets to the auction, call Jill Shpritser at 514-933-8461.