Anyway, I decided to have one last volunteering hurrah before I wasn't able to do that sort of thing anymore. I helped out at the PNCA Art Auction. PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) is the leading art school here in Portland and the auction was to raise funds for scholarships. I had never been to an auction before and didn't know how it was going to go. I wasn't super excited about hanging out with rich people and I was worried that the limitations of my pregnancy (having to eat, drink, and pee frequently) would be a problem. My first assignment was to stand next to some of the art to make sure that people didn't accidently knock it over or damage it (alcohol was served at this event). It started out very quiet and not many people came to see me at first. One of the waiters saw that I was all alone and offered to get me a glass of wine (I'm just starting to show so he didn't know I was pregnant. Anyway he got me water instead.) When people came to see my pieces, most of them were very nice (or too shy to be rude). Some even chatted with me when they saw I was alone, and a few asked about the exhibitions at the museum. During this time guests were free to mill about, looking at the art, schmoozing, and eating. I think people were more passionate about the food than the art! It is hard to focus on art when you are hungry, I know. This went on for a few hours. Then it was time for the auction. During this time I was an art handler, carrying the art to be seen by the audience. (There were a number of us handling.) This involved wearing white cotton gloves, walking down, walking across the front in front of the stage (so that the auctioneer could see the audience) and then walking up the aisle so that people could have a closer look. Oh yeah, and there was a spotlight on me as I did this. Some of the time it was just me, and sometimes I shared the carrying with another person if the work was large and heavy or with a few people if it involved more than one piece. I had a lot of trouble with one large and heavy piece and had to walk like a crab to try to show it to people. My partner and I also had trouble keeping it upright and high enough for people to see it. So if you are ever in an auction and the handler isn't holding the art high enough, it's probably because it's heavy! Anyway, the auction was fun and the auctioneer was a great entertainer, joking around with the audience and trying to persuade them to increase their bids. The highest bid of the night was for food (see my earlier theory) in which the offer was for 12 people to go have dinner at a famous artist's house. Two bidders joined forces, increased it to 25 people, and bid $10,000!
After that, I headed into the boardroom to help wrap the art to prepare it for transport. I was a little nervous about this but it wasn't hard. It basically involved bubble wrap, cardboard corners for the paintings, paper so that the wrap wouldn't damage the paintings, and lots of tape. At the beginning of this process I cut my finger, which ended up being a good thing because I got to eat while it stopped bleeding. It wasn't a bad cut at all but I obviously couldn't risk getting any blood on the art. So we volunteers got to eat and we were offered wine or cocktails as well. I stayed until 9:30, at which point most of the art was wrapped. It was a good experience and I enjoyed getting to know some people from the college. I should also mentioned the waitstaff from the hotel, who were amazing. They helped us when we were struggling with the art and fed and watered us and made sure we were taken care of. So altogether it was a really good experience!