Guests gather in the Vernon Community Arts Centre for the Almost Famous art show where people bid on replicas of famous works of art.

Guests gather in the Vernon Community Arts Centre for the Almost Famous art show where people bid on replicas of famous works of art.

The Queen weighs in

My husband and I were delighted to be invited to Gallery Vertigo's major fund-raising event, the Almost Famous Art Auction and Full Regalia Gala, last Saturday.

Thoughts from the Throne by HM Queen Elizabeth II (alias Christine Pilgrim)

My husband and I were delighted to be invited to Gallery Vertigo’s major fund-raising event, the Almost Famous Art Auction and Full Regalia Gala, last Saturday. Unfortunately, Prince Philip was detained at his 90th birthday celebrations and was therefore unable to be by my side.  However, I encountered little difficulty auctioning off, on my own, the 55 fabulous fakes that were submitted.

The wittiest among them was perhaps a copy of Monet’s Waterlilies donated by James Postill.  On one of the lily pads sat a cheeky little frog, with a caption reading, “Never to be frogotten.”  Prince Philip would have enjoyed the joke immensely.

Many were dressed appropriately to receive Royalty, in fine plumage and tiaras, Parisian hats, fedoras and Panamas.  There were even two fascinators similar to those worn by Beatrice and Eugenie at the recent wedding of William and Catherine.

Unlike previous years when bidders squeezed into Gallery Vertigo’s charming but somewhat cramped quarters, Saturday’s event was held at the more spacious Vernon Community Arts Centre.

When one asked a guest, who had attended previous auctions, how the two venues compared, she replied that she preferred the intimacy of Gallery Vertigo because it added to the light-hearted atmosphere that accompanies a tongue-in-cheek event such as Almost Famous.

She said that she also missed Gallery Vertigo’s white walls that displayed the artwork to better advantage, not to mention the details and photographs of the originals from which they were copied or (mis)interpreted.  In many cases, these were missing.  She maintained that if guests were not familiar with the original, they were less likely to appreciate the nuances and jests intended (or otherwise) by the fakers.

One gentleman who had not attended an Almost Famous Auction and Full Regalia Gala before had found the evening most entertaining.  However, he felt the number of “ordinary people” invited to emulate the masters could be augmented to include celebrities such as the Mayor and Citizen of the Year, or even city councillor Sean Lee whose presence enhanced the audience that evening. Paintings by children ages nine and 13, as well as participants in the Venture Training Program, were already included in the lineup of pieces fetching anything from $20 to more than $200.

One of the contributors, who did not count herself as a fully-fledged artist, said how much she appreciated the skill and attention to detail in the masterpiece she copied.  She had not realized, until she took up her brush, how much went into each stroke of the master’s brush.

“The same thing could happen to the mayor, Citizen of the Year or city councillor,” she said. “That might give them a greater appreciation for the visual arts and maybe persuade them to secure more funding for them.”

Meanwhile, Gallery Vertigo’s creative director and administrator Judith Jurica said that 2011’s Almost Famous proceeds exceeded those of 2010, and she thanked everyone whose help made the evening such a success: Vernon Community Arts Centre, contributing artists and the many volunteers. Special mention was made of chairperson Allison Griswold, musician Cory Myraas, Marni Niles of Hunting Hawk Winery, Brotworks, and Yours Truly of course.

Christine Pilgrim is an actress and an impersonator of historical figures. She was the auctioneer at Almost Famous, dressed as Queen Elizabeth II.