It started with a dilemma: some of Penny Eder's clients wanted to buy new pieces from her White Dog Studio Gallery, but their closets were already filled with art they had grown tired of. How could they justify the purchase?
"I know this sounds funny, but after a glass of wine working late one I thought, 'At the end of the year, you clean out your closets. Out with the old, in with the new,'" she says.
And the idea for her auction Art — Out with the Old was born. Anyone with an original piece (painting or sculpture) can bring it into the gallery at 1074 Millar Creek Road to be assessed and decide on a minimum bid. (The only restriction: no prints or posters.) Then, from Dec. 29 until Jan. 3, visitors to the gallery can place a bid.
"It's going to be a silent auction," she explains. "We'll do a bit of searching and we'll come up with a minimum bid. Then the person who sells the painting will take home the money — (minus) 20 per cent for commission — or, if they want a new piece of artwork, there's no commission on the piece."
So far, Eder has collected eight pieces — including one sculpture and a painting by Canadian artist Clare Bice, with proceeds going to Whistler Community Services Society — on display on the gallery's website. "I'm hoping we can get some old Whistler photographs," she adds.
The pieces currently range from "Flemish Winter," a painting by an unknown artist from 1750-1850 of children playing in the snow to a pair of paintings by Canadian landscape artist Leyda Campbell. There's also "Yellow, White and Gold," the Bice piece, which was one of four paintings, originally donated to the Re-Use-It Centre. When the centre had trouble selling it, Eder stepped in.
"We thought this would be a perfect idea to get them some money," she says.
There are many reasons people want to sell a painting they might have intended to keep forever, she adds. "We all know that fashion changes and lives change. Who and where we got the piece, (the circumstances) sometimes change. Just off the top of my head, say you got married and had a wedding present of a piece of artwork and you're no longer married. You don't want to give away, but you don't want to keep it."
So far, reaction has been positive. "The only negative feedback has been, 'Oh I'm not going to be here,'" Eder says.
To that end, she's looking into the possibility of holding auctions every six months or so and adding an online component. The informal sale style can also help first-time buyers feel less intimated. "My motto on selling artwork here is I don't actually sell," Eder says. "People come in here and if they love it, they love it. If they can't afford it, we'll make a plan for them. It's about brightening up their world."
For more information or to see the current pieces up in the auction visit www.whitedogwhistler.com. Bids can also be placed over the phone at 604-932-2205.