Glamour & Gourmet in the Gallery, but with an urban flair

Courtesy Photo Some of the many auction donors and committee gathered at Art in the Loft for the annual donor’s lunch. Pictured are, seated from left, Kristen Kowalski, co-chair procurement committee; Stephanie Gandulla, Great Lakes Divers; Molly Stepanski, Presque Isle Farms; Sue Fitzpatrick, Art in the Loft Board president; Annette Taratuta, Netta’s Nursery; Molly Stricker, Thunder Bay Theatre. Standing from left are Paige Allia Trisko, Performance Locker; Denise Cooper, Art in the Loft culinary coordinator; Melissa Tolan-Halleck, nutrition consultant; Justin Christensen-Cooper, executive director; Nick Myers, Great Lake Divers; Blake Austin, Austin Brothers Beer Co.; Lindsey Bartz, Bay Athletic Club; Katie Young-Engstom, Young Appliance & Art Van-Alpena, Adrian Rochelle, Thunder Bay Theatre; Bob Young, Young Appliance & Art Van-Alpena, Augie Matuzak, 45th Parallel Glass Works, Judy Mathewson, Karen Bennett and Jean Thomas, Art in the Loft board members.

Celebrating the start of its 17th year, Art in Loft kicks off the season with the annual signature “fun-raising” event, Glamour & Gourmet in the Gallery on Nov. 9. This year’s event is titled “Urban Nights” and celebrates the growing popularity of the urban art scene.

Cities from Detroit to Denver, Berlin to Boston and Pittsburgh to Prague are being renewed and refueled by the arts, as warehouses are transformed to artist lofts, and artists create huge murals and street art. The atmosphere of Art in the Loft offers an authentic setting for an evening filled with fun, friends, food, art and urban flair.

This one-of-a-kind evening features silent and live auctions, travel experiences, a “heads & tails” raffle, a drawing for a $1,000 “golden ticket” and a wine pull, with all proceeds benefiting Art in the Loft.

Guests will enjoy appetizers, a plated steak dinner prepared and served by The Fresh Palate, as well as a vegetarian option available to guests who request it. After dinner, a variety of sumptuous desserts will be served. A cash bar offers a choice of specialty cocktails, beer, wine and soft drinks.

Volunteer drink servers, known as “winers” pay special attention to each table and have a friendly competition for tips, which are donated to the Loft.

Guests can also view the juried art show “Forgotten Spaces,” featuring over 80 works of art.

Executive Director Justin Christensen-Cooper said, “For this year’s urban theme, the committee decided to keep the decor more industrial and minimal, which allows the art to be a focal point. We are thrilled that our guests will have the chance to experience this special art exhibit during Glamour & Gourmet.Our decor committee, headed by Melissa Burns, is also sure to add its own urban-chic style to the space.”

As guests stroll the gallery and enjoy a club-like atmosphere, they can use their phone or mobile device to place a bid on unique silent auction items, experiences and travel packages donated by local businesses and curated by the Glamour & Gourmet Committee.

“Mobile bidding is fun and easy,” said board member Jean Thomas. “With any smart phone, tablet or computer, our guests can bid on an auction package while mingling with friends or having dinner. There’s no need to crowd around a paper bid sheet or silent auction table. You can even bid on items from anywhere in the world, if you are registered and have a bid number.”

Thomas said that this year, mobile bidding will open early on Nov. 3 at 5 p.m.

“This will give our guests a chance to start bidding before the event, with the luxury of viewing the items online and planning their bidding strategy well in advance of the event,” she said.

For those who are not comfortable with using a phone or mobile device, “bid buddies” will circulate with tablets to help guests, answer questions and place bids for them, if desired.

There will also be a limited live auction featuring five unique lots with Dr. Dan Maxwell serving as the auctioneer for the second year. Guests will have a chance to bid on three very unique travel experiences, including the use of a large private luxury home in Marco Island for week, a ski experience in Lake Tahoe and a long weekend in New York City.

In addition, Chef Eric Peterson and his brother, Chef Kevin Peterson, are each contributing a special culinary experience for guests to bid on. Details and photos for each of the live auction items can be viewed in the online catalog, which can be found by going to and clicking on the Glamour & Gourmet link. Only those in attendance can bid in the live auction.

Those wishing to bid in the silent auction can bid either at the event or online from any location. A large variety of packages and price ranges are available in the silent auction including jewelry, fashion, fitness and beauty items, home goods and services, as well as spa/salon experiences.

These items have been donated by area merchants and include a trip for 10 people to Churchill Downs, a pet wellness package, a downtown date night, home services and several packages for children. One popular category is called a “Party Board,” which offers multiple spaces or tickets to a party or group experience for a fixed price. The Netta’s Planting Party is always a popular favorite in this category.

New this year is a “Loft-y Lotus” experience featuring a day of instruction in yoga, meditation and nutrition with a variety of special guest speakers and instructors.

An important section of the auction is always the “Raise a Paddle,” during which guests help the Loft fund a special project or program. This year, a generous benefactor has offered to match the contributions raised during this segment of the program.

“This is an amazing gift to the Loft and to our community,” said Christensen-Cooper. “Rather than use these funds for any one particular project, the committee has decided to start an endowment at the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan to fund ongoing arts programs for children. In this way, the contributions from our community will grow, just like the children we serve at the Loft. One of the themes of our juried art show is that Art in the Loft will never be a ‘Forgotten Space.’ Each generation can help the next to continue to grow and thrive in this creative environment.”

Glamour & Gourmet committee members include Sue Fitzpatrick, Lori Maxwell, Kristen Kowalski, Judy Mathewson, Katy Conklin, Dawn Stone, Melissa Burns, Jean Thomas, Amin Akhlaghi, Karen Bennett, Chuck Bennett, Denise Cooper, Cindy Lamb, Jacob Kuznicki, Amanda Kuznicki, Barb Szczesniak, Linda Suneson, Marie Williams, Alysa Peirce, Linda McMillan, Justin Christensen-Cooper and Melissa Lappan.

Table captains include Melissa Lappan, Kristen Kowalski, Judy Burns, Cheryl Bates, Katie Wolf, Betsy Young, Leah Conboy, Amber Hess, Lori Maxwell, Brenda Herman, Cindy Lamb, Jaime Kurowski, Mary Beth Christensen-Cooper, Elizabeth Ruth, Amy Schultz, Mary Beth Stutzman and Wynne Tezak.

Numerous other volunteers also help to produce the event.