FAYETTEVILLE — The art was on display under a tent on the lawn, co-host Dr. Hershey Garner was at his post serving drinks in what’s now been dubbed Hershey’s Bar and his wife and co-host, Denise, was seemingly everywhere during Youth Bridge’s annual Starry Starry Night ... almost Van Gogh Masterpiece Art Challenge and Auction.
The event Saturday night (June 23) was well-attended, despite the stifling heat. The Garners have hosted the affair at their home on Mission Boulevard for several years running, though the event was moved from September to June in hopes of bolstering attendance.
Proceeds and expenses were still being tallied as of Sunday (June 24), though organizers vowed to devote a portion of earnings to help re-establish art therapy programs at its residential shelters.
“Art therapy plays an important tole in the therapeutic counseling and recovery of troubled youth,” said Nancy Hairston, Youth Bridge’s director of development.
This year, organizers also opened up the art competition to more participants. Artists could enter as professionals, corporate teams with a minimum of two people, individuals or youth individuals for youth 16 and under. Prizes were awarded three-deep in each category. Winners got a combination of cash prizes, trophies, ribbons and gift cards and were eligible for an overall People’s Choice Award.
Additional awards were given for Most Creative Use of Materials, Best Use of Theme, and Craziest Entry. All art pieces were available for bid by silent auction. Several pieces were offered in a live auction.
The rules were the same as in year’s past: each artist or team was supplied with a black, white and one other random color of paint and two brushes. Each was allowed to use any other painting tool they desired. Artists could make a $50 donation to “break the rules” and use other materials such as lights, food coloring, cotton, string, and eggshells to create a multi-media piece of art or even a three-dimensional artwork.
Works were judged by a panel that included Jonathan Harris, Deirdre West, Kent Landrum, Natalie Olsen, Barbara Price-Davis, Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Clark and Fannie Long, wife of University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long.
Despite ongoing economic challenges for Youth Bridge and other area nonprofits, executive director Scott Linebaugh and board chairman West Doss took turns assuring partygoers that Youth Bridge — with support from the local public and private sectors — is up for whatever challenges lie ahead.
In between bites from a barbecue buffet and beverages from “Hershey’s Bar,” guests bid on the artwork and snatched up raffle tickets. Throughout the event, emcee Kyle Kellams, Hairston and Phil Bode, Youth Bridge’s marketing and communications director, drew for door prizes.
Prizes included a weekend night for two at the Aloft hotel in Rogers with coupons to local eateries, movie tickets and a gift certificate to the Pinnacle Hills Promenade; and a one-night’s stay at a Vacation Rentals property with the same amenities mentioned above; and a Jawbone Red Box donated by AT&T. Volunteers sold chances to win packages that included two Southwest Air tickets to anywhere Southwest flies in the United States; a one-night stay for two to Downstream Casino and Resorts plus dinner at the Red Oak Steakhouse and golf at Eagle Creek Club; a one-night stay at Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs plus dinner at Flint Creek Steakhouse; and a round of golf with use of a golf cart at both Paradise Valley Athletic Club and Springdale Country Club.