Festive music, themed bites and simply stunning works of art at a fraction of the standard price were on tap as the Triton Museum of Art celebrated Cinco de Mayo with its 21st Annual Gala Saturday night.
With music by Los Panaderos and catering by Catered Too, art appreciators and collectors dressed up to bid on over 100 original pieces of art and gift baskets packed with everything from tickets to local events and a Nespresso coffee machine, to art-related items and curated bottles of local wines.
As always, artworks were divided among two of the Triton’s galleries with the silent auction in each room closing at different times, giving guests the opportunity to bid on multiple pieces without having to be in two galleries at once.
Among the bidders were Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone and his wife Carmen. The pair was each drawn to separate pieces in the same room with Carmen Stone falling in love with a Head Dress, a glazed green sculpture by Santa Clara County’s 2018 Artist Laureate Francisco “Pancho” Jimenez and Larry Stone being drawn to Lou Bermingham’s If Reality Were like a Shark. They also both took an interest in Kerry Powland Avrech’s oil painting, “Happy Hour.”
“I’m an art collector and we just redid our trust agreement and we’re going to give to the Triton Museum a number of pieces that we have in our art collection on my death,” said Larry Stone. “Now, I hope that will be in a long time, but you never know.”
Stone said if the couple won the three pieces they would eventually be added to the trust, but his main focus of the evening was winning Jimenez’s sculpture.
“I like the sculpture and he likes the Birmingham piece,” said Carmen Stone. “If I could only get one thing, that’s what I would get … I want it for my backyard. I told him I could see it there.”
As bidding drew to a close, each of Stones stood near one of their two favorite pieces, giving Mercury News columnist Sal Pizarro a chance to sweep in and bid on the Avrech painting of two women sitting at a bar with their backs to the viewer and sharing a drink. Pizarro said he purchased a piece by the artist at a previous gala because it reminded him of his wife and that this year’s submission was a look into the future of his wife and daughter sharing a drink in 15 years. His connection to the piece led Carmen Stone to tell her husband they would no longer be bidding on it.
“Yeah,” she said, “Larry cannot bid on that … It reminds [Sal] of his family and I said ‘it’s yours.’ I’m not going to let [my husband] bid on it.”
When the bidding ended, the Stones were the proud owner of the Jimenez sculpture and Birmingham painting, while Pizarro picked up the Avrech piece.
Birmingham said he was thrilled one of the two paintings he had up for auction would become part of the Stone’s collection and that he tries to support the Triton when possible.“The Triton Museum is incredibly supportive of local artists and nationally recognized artists and they’ve certainly helped my career immensely,” he said. “It’s just a real community based organization that does fantastic stuff, and, in my own way, I love to do whatever I can to support it.”
The Triton Museum is one of Santa Clara’s treasures. We had a delightful wedding reception there and plan to book again at some point. Meantime, the current exhibit of early 20th century Impressionist art of Bay Area places is wonderful. It is exactly the sort of lesser known local art that should find a showing somewhere and the Triton is suitable.
The large scale art pieces themed as updates on classic works inspired as responses to environmental fatalism catch the eye and challenge us to examine our belief in disaster. Very timely when we’re constantly told everything is worse than before and we’re doing it wrong.