Nearly 50 artist-embellished birdhouses will be auctioned off at the end of the month to help support the arts in the St. Croix Valley.
All you need to know about the level of mischievous creativity: Just one of these things, in last year’s auction, triggered a bidding war that lifted its price to an eye-popping $850.
Heather Rutledge, executive director of Stillwater-based ArtReach St. Croix, responded to questions about the 2015 version of the event, the second so far.
Q: How did this get started?
A: Scott Zahren, who was a big get-things-done guy in Stillwater until he passed away recently, brought the idea to us. We had shied away from an annual fundraiser, but this struck a chord, its connection of the arts that happen here and to the migrating birds of the area. The results have been incredible: Not one is ever remotely like the next.
Q: Did you have a favorite last year?
A: I bid on one that was very functional; I put it outside and it’s waiting for a bird to take it up as a home. I bought one that’s super structural, and that I will forever keep indoors as a piece of art.
Q: And this year?
A: I don’t know if I want to say; I might be outbid! I have my eye on probably four or five of them I really like, all very different: One is cartoonish pop art, and I love another one with little iridescent discs that will blow in the wind. There’s a beach house, a Little Free Library one, a vintage baseball player — there’s some fun ones this year.
Q: Would you care to disclose how much you raised last year?
A: It was our first year, and we did not meet our fundraising goal, so for us, this year it’s not just about selling the birdhouses, though we did in fact sell each one last year, but this year our goal is to have people come to the auction — tickets are reasonable, $25, or $30 at door, enjoy live music and have fun.
Last year they all started at $50 and they went for, I think, $65 to $850, the biggest bid going for a version of the Commander building, the iconic Stillwater grain elevator. This year the same artist — Jane Dierberger of the Stillwater Art Guild — has permission from the Lift Bridge brewing people to do a version with one of their logos.
Q: How many birdhouses are there?
A: Generally our goal is 50, but sometimes they go off and never come back: Sometimes they’re not as great as the artist would like.