Online Art Auction to Benefit LOGAN

Artists use auction, all on Facebook, to benefit LOGAN Center in South Bend

(Reprinted from The South Bend Tribune – March 22, 2020)

Full-time artist Ellen Brenneman paints animals in bright, vivid colors and sells most of her art in her South Bend home, a work-in-your-jammies gig that many of us have learned to do in the COVID-19 world. No storefront there. She mostly sells her art online at Etsy.com.

So, it’s natural that she and four other artists will hold an art auction Tuesday through Thursday of about 50 pieces — with 20% of proceeds to benefit the local nonprofit Logan Center — though you don’t have to be anywhere except, well, on Facebook.

In fact, the other four artists who are fellow organizers of this monthly auction, called The Creative Kind, live spread out in the states of Texas, Colorado, Michigan and Idaho.

Although other art groups also do online auctions, Brenneman says she doesn’t know of another one that donates a portion to charity.

In this case, 20% goes to a single charity each month, and the five artists take turns picking one close to her heart, usually near her home, though it has also helped relief causes for the recent wildfires in Australia and California. The impact of COVID-19 now weighs on their mind, too, as their Facebook group — with about 1,800 members — encourages us to “pay it forward.”

Since the monthly auctions started in July 2018, they’ve raised almost $14,000 for 20 charities, Brenneman says.

Logan, which serves people with special needs, is dear to Brenneman because her brother, Eldon, now in his 60s, has developmental disabilities with autistic tendencies.

This week’s auction was planned long before Logan had to cancel its annual Nose-On fund-raising luncheon. In its place, the charity will release a celebration video at noon Monday, when the luncheon would have been held, featuring the event’s longtime emcee/retired WNDU anchor Maureen McFadden and the Nose-On tradition. Marketing director Nancy Miller says it will be posted on Facebook and logancenter.org.

The Creative Kind artists will offer an eclectic range of art, from paintings on birch bark to prints to practical note cards. Starting bids can range from $30 to $200, Brenneman says, and adds that there can be some stiff bidding wars, but on average, the pieces get 10 to 15 bids. On a few select pieces, there’s sometimes a “buy it now” option where you can just pay a set price.

The artists are posting some of the art now so that you can be tagged if you’re interested in a piece.

The auction typically happens the third week of the month. Sometimes there are guest artists from around the world, though not in this month’s auction, Brenneman says. There’s a waiting list of interested artists, she adds, but they must be experienced at selling art online.

Brenneman, now 50, has been working as a full time artist for eight years and specializes in watercolors and acrylic ink. Apart from Etsy.com, she’s a regular at South Bend’s Art Beat each summer and has some of her pieces at The Collection at 120 Main store in Culver.

She has collectors of her art as far out as Kentucky, Maryland and Australia, but Roseland Animal Hospital, where she’s taken her dogs, has more than a dozen of her pieces.

Prior to this, Brenneman had earned her bachelor’s degree at Ball State University in graphic design, hoping to be an art therapist, then took a year off from art, which turned into a decade. She started working for local charities to help people with autism and intellectual disabilities, which turned into a full decade of providing respite care for their families — largely because of her brother, Eldon. She recalls sitting as a child with her mother and other ladies at Logan to make little “pom pom chicks” made of yarn that they’d sell at Notre Dame games.

It was “inevitable” that the art auction would benefit Logan, she says, because “they’ve been a help to our family in times of need.”

The only other charity that’s benefited in our region is GRRACE, or Golden Retriever Rescue and Community Education, that accepts golden retrievers from people who can no longer care for them and adopts them out. Though based in Plainfield, Ind., Brenneman says it works across Indiana, with volunteers like her at the north end, too.

GRRACE will benefit from the April auction, though she says it’s possible that some of the proceeds may go to a food bank, too, to aid people out of work because of COVID-19.

How to participate

The art auction will run from 11 a.m. Tuesday through 9 p.m. Thursday at The Creative Kind group on Facebook.

jdits@sbtinfo.com

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