Parkersburg Art Center hosts benefit auction

PARKERSBURG – More than 150 people filled the Parkersburg Art Center Thursday evening for its TableScapes 2013 Auction to benefit the youth art program.

“I’m very pleased with the crowd that turned out to support us,” said art center director Abby Hayhurst. “But while the turnout is great and the tablescapes are fantastic, what we are doing with the money raised is the key.”

Hayhurst said she hopes the event raises as much as $6,000 for the center, through the $10 admission tickets, raffle tickets and payout of table sales. Every penny from Thursday evening’s event will go to the art center’s education fund.

“Studies have shown that kids who are encouraged to use art from an early age have a stronger ability to use their creativity throughout all aspects of their lives as they grow,” Hayhurst said. “We want to encourage kids of all walks of life to create all kinds of art and we get to do that through our youth education programs.”

For the second year, members of the education program have been invited to the National Early Childhood Education Association’s annual convention to present what the art center has to offer, Hayhurst said.

“It is not only an honor for our education program to be listed with the others at the convention, but it shows we are doing something right and helping to keep the gap in education between the haves and have nots a little bit smaller,” she said.

The TableScapes 2013 fundraiser included about 14 tables decorated and adorned with everything from a large birch tree branch, to author-autographed books as well as traditional China place settings and silverware.

“There are some really amazing, creative and beautiful tables I am proud to say are part of this auction,” Hayhurst said.

The idea for this year’s fundraiser was sparked by Rob Hyde, who designed two tablescapes for the event.

“Rob came to us with the idea and plans for these two tables and the rest of the event grew around that,” Hayhurst said. “He is the mastermind for this fundraiser.”

Hyde said he was inspired to create the tablescape for “A Literary Feast” by his close friend Joann Sams, who passed away in February.

“Joann loved to collect first edition books and she loved to read Anne Rice, so this table was inspired by her,” said Hyde as he fought tears. “This table means true friendship to me and I hope whoever purchases it uses it and appreciates every part of it.”

The items featured in this ode to friendship are also high quality and are valued at $5,872.

Along with a British edition of “Interview with the Vampire” signed by author Anne Rice, the display also includes pieces from Tiffany and Co., Wedgewood, Royal Doulton and Royal Copenhagen.

“Nothing satisfies me more than people enjoying life,” Hyde said. “In a world where everything is in a rush, it’s good to have something nice and luxurious to come home to; these items were made to be used, not placed in a cabinet and just looked at.”

“A Literary Feast” was not on the auction block, but used as the grand prize for the drawing.

Attendees of the event spoke about the display “Glistening Floral Forest” donated by The Greenhouse of St. Marys, which included roughly two dozen fresh white roses and a large birch branch coming out of the center, as if the tree was growing through the table.

“We started with a winter ice theme and it just grew,” said Kaki Reckard, co-owner of The Greenhouse.

While Reckard agreed she helped with the tablescape, the finished display was the brainchild of herself with friends and others with The Greenhouse Kim Thomas, Bobby Clovis, Pat Cornell and Mike Ward.

“There were a lot of us working on this and I think it came out beautiful,” Reckard said.

Hyde and Reckard said that while they were happy to be creative with their tables, they are most pleased about being able to support the art center.

“This was my first time working with the art center in this way, but it certainly won’t be my last,” Reckard said. “The group and I are already thinking of things we can make and what we can do for our next project.”