• 26th-annual event delights patrons and raises funding
By Naomi Klouda
A rare gift arrived in August as a donation to the Pratt Museum: six numbered prints from a set of paintings by renowned Alaska artist Fred Machetanz.
The prints range in value from $560 to more than $4,000 each, coming from the estate of Delmore and Betty Schmidt. Their children donated the six framed prints and a set of four Anaktuvuk masks to the Pratt Museum, which will auction the items off at the annual fundraiser “Puttin’ on the Ritz” Saturday night.
“They were collectors of art. Their children took all they wanted and since Mrs. Schmidt loved the Pratt, what the family didn’t take, they donated to the Pratt,” said Michele Miller, development director at the Pratt. The Schmidts moved to Homer in 1984 after Delmore retired as a civil service logistic officer. He and Betty came to Alaska in 1952 from Kansas. Schmidt contributed to the local history book “In Those Days.”
Among the Machetanz prints is “Tender Arctic,” a depiction of a mother polar bear and her young, said to be one of the more valuable of his works. It is worth between $2,995 and $4,342. Collected as a set, the group includes the hunter on ice in “End of the Hunt,” a dog team staked in the snow, “Moonlit Stakeout,” the polar king, “Nanook,” “Trail through the pressure ice,” and a moving dog team in “The Nelchina Trail.”
Some 30 objects of valuable art were donated to the Pratt for the live auction and 70 others for the silent auction, both to take place starting at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Pratt. The event’s theme this year is “Ancient Ritz, A night on the Nile.”
Viewing artistic master pieces of far northern Inuit scenes in a museum décor of the ancient Nile civilization is meant to give an imaginative spark to the event, said Museum Director Diane Converse. Patrons are invited to dress in their interpretation.
“The idea is to pick a fun theme that would be something people would enjoy developing costumes for – it will take us someplace else for the night,” Converse said. “People put a lot of thought into the costumes. I can’t wait to see how many kinds of mummies there might be, or what people come up with.”
During its 26-year history, the Ritz has gained a growing reputation as an opportunity for art collectors to gain valuable new pieces. Art lovers from communities on the road system plan a Homer weekend around the annual Ritz events. At the same time, it’s a premiere fundraising event to raise money for the museum’s general fund.
Among the 30 items, to be auctioned off by Gary Thomas, is an original by Byron Birdsall called “Stickman.” Depicting a wood sculpture amidst beach grass on the Homer Spit, its value is $800. It came as a direct donation from Birdsall.
The set of four Anaktuvuk masks are by an unknown artist, made of caribou skin and trimmed in fur circa the 1970s, also from the Schmidt estate.
“It’s fairly rare to receive a donation from an estate. That doesn’t happen often. We were very pleased,” Converse said.
Another highlight is a series called “Potters’ Tools,” by famed artist Annette Bellamy, made of Raku fired clay. Turid Senungetuk’s necklace features an original pendant made of wood and gold. A ring by Rika Mouw, “Signs of Life” is made of silver, wood, gold leaf, mineral crystal and apple seeds. Eileen Wythe’s skill on fabric makes a near 3-dimensional art of “Peonies,” a wall hanging.
Surprises are among the offerings: two port windows from the MV Honcho, a tug under demolition now. The tug was built in 1943. Also of note is a period piece called “Going to Seed: From the Winesburg Series” by artist Sheila Wyne. It was Inspired from Sherwood Anderson’s book, “Winesburg Ohio,” coming straight from a set the artist designed that went on the world premier of the play, “Winesburg.”
All of the live auction pieces can be viewed at www.prattmuseum.org/exhibitry/special.html#ritz
Of the 70 “Arts and Adventure” silent auction items, which can be viewed only on the night of the auction, more artistic jewelry and other items will be offered. These include wines and dinners trips across the bay, massages, airline tickets and pamper-yourself packages.
The evening features foods catered by Maura’s Deli.
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