On Exhibit

A League of their Own

By Kelly MacConomy

Sunday, February 19 marked the Torpedo Factory Art League’s 49th Patron’s Show Fundraiser 2017.  The Art League’s major fundraising effort is held annually at Alexandria’s world famous Torpedo Factory art center. Part auction and fundraiser. Part game and reality show spectacle all at once.  It’s the DMV art scene’s moral equivalent of Opening Day.

Celebrity guest emcee, radio personality Robb Spewak of Robb Radio and The Mike O’Meara Show, got the art rave party started, proving to be an engaging, laugh-out-loud pun master of ceremonies and droll showman extraordinaire.

Six hours and 650 patrons later, with the occasional awkward pregnant pause of indecision and booed outcry of contempt for error or confusion in calling out a taken piece, Robb all the while kept the crowd rapt and ready for more.

Decisions, decisions: Choose wisely – met with accolades and applause. But choose PDQ – lest you be pummeled with an errant grape or Kalamata olive!

The Torpedo Factory was filled to the rafters with enthusiastic art patrons. Photo by Scott MacConomy.

In the early days, staff and volunteers merely held the pieces for auction Carol-Merrill style, while in later years patrons had to sift through pages of numerically assigned wall to ceiling art on display in the Art League Gallery space, making intricate if/then flow charts and spread sheets determining their preferred selections.

These days, the Art Thief app designed by art aficionado and dedicated patron Steve Roberson of Zurka Interactive renders the otherwise mind-boggling, elaborate process seamlessly efficient and expeditious.  Hardly a heckle or a harangue to be heard.

A rousing round of the wave and stand-up cheers to Gallery Director Whitney Steiger with high-five huzzahs to Gallery Assistants Haven Ashley and Lizzy Lunday for a stellar starting lineup presentation.

Over 690 pieces of art valued at a minimum of $225 each were donated for the annual fundraiser. Photo by Scott MacConomy.

Hailed by Washingtonian Magazine in the July 2010 Best Bet’s issue as the most fun fundraiser, the Patron Show plays to a sold out crowd.  Each year the event grows in popularity.  The number of tickets sold never exceeds the number of donated art works. Last month 650 patron tickets were sold to art lovers and savvy collectors, rookie and veteran alike, vying for first at-bats selecting award-winning work by prominent painters, printers, photographers, sculptors, textile artists, ceramicists, metal and jewelry artisans.  The Zebra‘s own Lillis Werder donated “The Hounds”,a large photographic work showcasing Middleburg Hunt foxhounds which went in the first round, considered in the art league to be a grand slam home run!

680 area artists donated artwork valued at a minimum of $225 each. Coupled with patron companion ticket sales and after-show auction items, the event brought in over $160,000 in support of art-oriented community outreach, artist activities and enrichment in the City.  The artwork donated by Art League artists, Art League faculty and Torpedo Factory artists frequently has a potential value into the thousands of dollars. Notable and popular Torpedo Factory artists this year included multi-award winning and Patron Show favorite photorealist Wendy Donohoe, as well as landscape, portrait, abstract and mixed media artists Tory Cowles, Sheep Jones, Marsha Staiger, Betty Grisham, Lisa Schumaier, Mirella Belshe, B.J. Anderson, and former Virginia House of Delegates Member and founder of the Torpedo Factory Marian Van Landingham.  Accomplished women artists all – outstanding in the field, in a league of their own; the heart, soul and lifeblood of the Torpedo Factory Art Center along with scores of talented and tireless artists, artisans, staff, and volunteers.

A special shout-out to the magnanimous hall of fame Clemente family for sponsoring the artists awards.

Two heads are better than one when deciding what you might want to take home. Photo by Scott MacConomy.

Events such as this would never be possible without the generous support of local legends and institutions, most notably Chadwick’s restaurant, Windmill Homes EYA, and Halt, Buzas, Powell, LTD, certified public accountants and management consultants, as well as the Torpedo Factory for the in-kind donation of the facility for the fundraiser.

Crayon in the date for next year: February 18, 2018. Tickets will go on sale January 14. The 50th anniversary Patron Show promises to be an over-the-top grandstand of an out-of-the park fine-art extravaganza trip to the show.



Photo 1:

Patrons enjoyed the art, which was hung and displayed from ceiling to floor. Photo by Scott MacConomy.

Photo 2:

Radio Personality Robb Spewak calls out a name. Photo by Scott MacConomy.

Photo 3:

The Torpedo Factory was literally filled to the rafters with enthusiastic art patrons. Scott by Scott MacConomy.

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