Cassie Normandy White, Sea Populations, 2012, courtesy of the artist

Cassie Normandy White, from Sea Populations, 2012, courtesy of the artist

I attended an intriguing art fundraiser last night. The art was stripped naked.

By that I mean that the event concealed the identities of the artists. The 5X7 Splurge at AMOA-arthouse, Jones Center stacked a white room with shelves of mysterious minis  — over 500  small format various media miniworks (some 3D) by wide ranging artists and sculptors. All art — one price – $150.

But you have to wait for the bullhorn to buy. Yes. Its blare tore through anticipation in the museum as high style people grappled over each other to rip off little silver tabs hanging by each painting. If you snag the tab the art is yours.  “Negotiations” between patrons for popular pieces – fierce. But let’s not talk about my social inappropriateness here.

I’m interested rather —  in the naked place. The place where you view art stripped of all context, all brand, all socially perceived value. Only the piece and your eyeball.

How to choose from the multitude? What do I internally do to create a $150 value for a work the size of a 50¢ postcard?

I tried to analyze. Hmmm. . . what is the quality of the drawing/painting? How does the piece address the size constraint? What is its materiality? Does its presence defy its borders? Does it break the plane, do something interesting/unexpected? This intellectual toying was my catbrain with a string.

But my emotions agonized. I didn’t want to be wrong — to pick a sub-par piece. I second guessed X 10. I wanted someone to fight me for the tab I grabbed (but I didn’t). I wanted the Antiques Roadshow Moment – “you’re kidding, my painting is worth what???” I wanted to see what no one else saw.  Naked value creation – for my ego.

Why couldn’t I pick a piece and just enjoy it?

Well eventually I did. See above.  And I learned again what I keep on learning. Be brave. Love it just because you love it.

And because your friend — who is a consummate judge of art —  approved.