By Candace Morey | Photos by Eddie Hernandez

Expectations loomed large as the ArtSpan Divas and Auction Committee Members set an ambitious goal for the 2016 Benefit Art Auction: to surpass the fundraising heights attained by the 2015 Auction (aka, the Best Auction Ever!). Could ArtSpan really do it?

Yes, and by far! With 162 items sold, over 400 guests, and a whopping $135,000 raised, this year’s auction raised the bar higher and reached another all-time record for ArtSpan’s primary annual fundraising event.

Attaining a new pinnacle would not have been possible without ArtSpan’s artist members, who provided such a variety of submissions in breathtaking quality that Jurors pre-selected over 130 works to entice all kinds of art lovers. The silent and live auctions featured paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, and even textiles (courtesy of artist Ealish Wilson). Afterwards, artists and art lovers sipped artfully-crafted cocktails courtesy of Campari and poured by Oddjob bar, and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres provided by Macadamia Events and Catering as they mingled among the works and rushed to place final bids in the silent auctions.

Generous donations from local businesses provided unique options for guests to win non-art experiences as well. In addition to gift certificates at preeminent San Francisco restaurants, wine packages, and the ever-popular Tacolicous and Wahaka Mezcal taco party, bidders vied for exquisite sets of artist pastels, dual membership to the newly-reopened SF MOMA, and a stunning glass terrarium nestled inside a charred-wood pedestal from Public Glass.

Auctioneer Emily Quinn also upped the ante by introducing new games to entice donors and art collectors to dig even deeper into their pockets to support ArtSpan’s programs while building their art collections. Reaching for the “stars” this year, guests increased their bids to secure chances to win the Gold Star Prize, a fantastic quilt by Chris Antieau, and the Silver Star Prize, a gift certificate for dinner for two with coveted priority seating at San Francisco’s renowned State Bird Provisions restaurant.

A chance to take home a large-scale Paul Madonna piece also amped up the crowd participation in this year’s Fund-a-Need, which raised funds specifically to support ArtSpan’s #ArtEverywhere campaign. Other proceeds supported ArtSpan’s Youth Open Studios program, the Professional Development Workshop series for artists, networking and interactive art-making events, and the new Art-in-Neighborhood program, which encourages public engagement with art at venues across the city throughout the year.