GREAT FALLS — As their September 12th online auction date approaches, the staff at the C.M. Russell Museum is encouraging interested participants to prepare - as the auction organizers have done over the past five months.
Executive director Tom Figarelle shared how the team has used the six-month postponement to their advantage - by keeping hold of the works from their previous auction and securing new works for their upcoming one.
“We’ve been very fortunate in retaining the art that we had scheduled for what was going to be an auction in March, but I’d say even more fortunate to add some really exciting pieces,” Figarelle said.
These new additions include a Russell work. Figarelle added that the team also used this time to inform buyers about how the online action will work. “When we had to shift and reschedule the sale we knew that our buyer community had to be informed about how that would work. 1)The new dates. 2) How they could engage remotely through either telephonic bids or online platforms,” Figarelle said.
An advantage of taking place online versus in person is that anyone - from anywhere- can participate. “By virtue of being online, we do break down any geographic barriers,” Figarelle said, “We’ve broadened the opportunity for anybody throughout the world to participate in this auction.”
Figarelle said he’s confident the online turnout will match that of an in-person auction. “We know that we’re gonna have a large audience that is engaged in this sale to support the C.M. Russell Museum,” Figarelle said.
However, when asked whether online-only auctions might become the norm, he replied that online auctions will merely supplement in-person auctions, as face-to-face auctions add a unique energy fed by the admiration of art and the spirit of competition.
“The in-person auction always provides this real palpable sense of energy...and that can add to a sale, it can get people excited, it can build really nice competition between buyers. The challenge is to keep that when doing a remote sale,” Figarelle said, “We will go back to having an in-person auction the moment this pandemic environment allows us to. But one thing we do know is we will forever have an online presence going forward. We’ve always had telephonic bid options but now we’re going to have a robust online presence.”
Figarelle also wanted to preserve the conversational atmosphere the traditional ‘Russell’ auction fostered between artists and buyers.
“I think that’s one thing that makes our sale stand out amongst many other Western sales throughout the country is that you get to visit with western artists,” Figarelle said, “So we went and focused on having interviews with artists that we’re releasing online on a periodic basis so people can still get a sense of, ‘what are these artists thinking about?’, ‘how is the pandemic affecting their creative processes?’ And that’s all targeted towards enriching the virtual experience for The Russell auction this September.”
The online auction will take place September 12, 2020. Click here to visit the website for more information.