Guests at 3rd Annual 5×7 Art Scholarship Fundraiser Surprised by “Howdy Doody”

About 168 persons gathered on Saturday, January 22nd for an evening of great fun, food, wine, dancing and art grabbing during the 3rd Annual Medici Circle – School of Art Scholarship Fundraiser.  The Frazier Alumni Center offered a warm glow with its large fireplace accentuated by the floral and table decor that was provided by College Flowers.


Heather Henry and Blair Isom, two of the event co-chairs, preview the 5x7 artworks.

The evening began with a champagne preview of over 200 artworks donated by artists from all over the USA, including works by art faculty and students, alumni, local artists, and artists who have previously exhibited in Landmark Arts.  Artists donated one to three artworks, each 5 x7 inches in size to be sold at a fixed price of $75.  At one point during the preview, Chad Plunket, alumnus of the Art and Architecture programs and currently adjunct instructor in Art Foundations, came up to me and asked in awe, “Are those really works by Ken Little? And are they really going for only $75.”  I affirmed that San Antonio based art alumnus, Ken Little had generously submitted three of his “dollar” artworks for the evening, and that, yes, they would be the same price as all the rest of Art Grab works. Plunket, Art office administrator Sue Yager, and Medici Board President Elisabeth Burrows each made off, like bandits, with their own Ken Little that evening.

Sue Yager, thrilled to have snagged one of the Ken Little 5x7s.


Art student staff Ryan De la Garza (left) and Linda Tien (right) previewed James W. Johnson's acrylic on paper painting "Howdy Doody dodged a bullet" and William Cannings' inflated aluminum piece titled "Reflect" before the live auction.

As dessert began, student staff members began to circulate among the tables, showcasing six 5×7 artworks which had been selected for live auction.  While the work had been donated as regular 5x7s, these pieces offered up an opportunity for patrons of the event to contribute beyond the fixed price in support of Art scholarships.  The artists whose works were selected for the live auction included Odessa sculptor Barry Phillips (the elder), Emeritus Professor Ken Dixon, current faculty members William and Shannon Cannings, and local artists and School of Art alumni Toni Arnett and James W. Johnson.


James W. Johnson's "Howdy Doody dodged a bullet" (acrylic on paper, 7x5 inches) fetched $1,200 for art scholarships during the live auction.

Bidding proceeded typically well with the works fetching from $275 to $650 until James Johnson’s “Howdy Doody dodged a bullet” came up.  Bidding was wildly enthusiastic – with apparently many of the attendees remembering the famed puppet from their early TV watching days.  When the bidding reached $1,000 there was a general round of clapping and cheering in the hall.  The bidding continued back and forth between Karen Savage and Tina Fuentes, Director of the School of Art until Professor Fuentes bid $1,200.  Sold to the highest bidder, the sale of Howdy Doody added significantly to the success of the event.  Remarking later during the event, Jim Johnson said, “Now I think I just want to paint some Howdy Doodys in various sizes for a while if they can bring that much.”  All told, the auctioned items alone brought in $3, 350.

The auction was only the beginning of the art sales.  Now it was time for the 5×7 Art Grab – the moment when, after a count down, everyone was allowed to grab all the tags for the art pieces they wanted.  Lined up at the starting line, you could sense there there was going to be some serious competition for several of the works.


The Art Grab!

‘5 -4 -3 – 2 – 1 Grab!” was announced and participants were off and running across the line to grab the art.  Within 15 minutes, an additional 100 artworks had been nabbed bringing the total art sale to right at $11,000 for the evening.


From left to right: 5x7 Event co-chairs Blair Isom, Heather Henry, Elisabeth Burrows (2011 Medici Circle Board Presiden) and Andrea Tirey.

As folks began to check out, others lingered, dancing a while to music provided by local band Jazz Alley. While not all the figures are in, it appears that the event will have cleared between $21,000 and $22,000.  The success of the event is a testament to the effort of the four co-chairs of the event:  Blair Isom, Elisabeth Burrows, Andrea Tirey, and Heather Henry.  The School of Art and Medici Circle also wish to thank the many benefactors and sponsors who helped make the evening a success.

At the top of the list is UMC Health System for being a major underwriter of this year’s event.  Community businesses that sponsored tables to the event include Charles Adams Studio Project and Malouf’s of Lubbock.  Texas Tech entities which also sponsored tables for the event include The Office of the Vice-President for Advancement, The Office of the Provost and The Office of the Vice-President for Research, TTU Athletics, The School of Art, and Art History Faculty of the School of Art.

Additional table sponsorships came from Elisabeth & Dustin Burrows, Heather & David Henry, Blair & Clayton Isom, and Andrea & Christopher Tirey with Amy and Brad King.

We wish to thank Kelly Marble and his staff at College Flowers for their loving treatment of the floral and table setup for the evening.  And a special thank you also goes to Eric Thornton of Graham Barnes Distilling who generously arranged for the donation of Treaty Oak Platinum Rum and Graham’s Texas Tea Vodka for the event.  We should add that Thornton, who is an alumnus of Texas Tech, also personally donated a 5×7 artwork that sold before the evening was over.

To read more about the Medici Circle, its founding and record of Scholarship Endowments, go to:

    • charles adams
    • January 26th, 2011

    I don’t know what it is but, the 5X7 gala is always more lively and more fun than any other gala. Congratulations once again, Charles

    • Tina Fuentes
    • January 26th, 2011

    A blast indeed. And….. I do “love” my Howdy Doody….:)

    I extend my thanks to the artists, Medici Circle, event organizers, and buyers of the art. You all helped make this event such a success. Tina

    • Karen Savage
    • January 27th, 2011

    The 5×7 Fundraiser was great fun ,as always!! Loved the addition of the live auction..Howdy Doody made it especially fun! Well done and thank you for a fabulous evening.

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