published Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Hunter Museum's Avant-art organization holds fifth annual fundraiser

By Ann Nichols

Hunter Underground has become one of the eagerly anticipated events held annually at the Hunter Museum of American Art. This year, it will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday in the basement of the museum.

The event is organized and hosted by Avant-art, the museum's young-minded, contemporary art group that is dedicated to introducing the public to art through gallery visits, tours of private collections, special member parties and visits to artists' studios.

Hunter Underground consists of entertainment by ToneHarm, food provided by Virginia Cofer, beer, wine, soft drinks and a "signature drink," according to Austin Center, founding member of Avant-art and chairman of the event.

The highlight of Hunter Underground, however, is the art that is available for purchase. The art selection committee, headed by Elizabeth Carriger, visited galleries in Atlanta and Chattanooga to find 60 two-and three-dimensional pieces that are priced $500 or less. Half of the artworks will be offered in a silent-auction format, and the remaining 30 can be purchased during the popular "smash and grab" auction.

"This is the third year we've held smash and grab because people love it," said Center. "We have some wonderful professional artists' work featured in this section."

For smash and grab, the names of people who have purchased tickets for this portion of the auction will be entered into a drawing. During the evening, five names will be called each hour, and those people will have 30 seconds to choose an artwork of their choice. Attendees can buy as many tickets as they want.

New to this year's event is the awarding of a door prize. Matt Moulthrop, a third-generation wood turner, will be represented in the silent auction by a beautiful turned-wood bowl. He is offering a free visit for four people to his studio in Marietta, Ga. In addition, a signed coffee-table book chronicling the three generations of Moulthrops, including Matt's father, Philip, and grandfather Ed, will be part of the door prize.

"Each year, we try to showcase a particular artist who is soaring in the art world," said Center. "Matt will be featured in an exhibition of up-and-coming artists under 40 years old at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as well as an exhibit of three generations of Moulthrops at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta."

The inclusion of Moulthrop's work falls in line with the theme of Hunter Underground this year, explained Center.

"We now have several generations of collectors, as well as artists, in our 180 members," he said. "Since our goal is to increase awareness about the museum and involve people in Chattanooga in the arts, Avant-art continues to grow and thrive."

Tickets for the event are required and can be purchased through Wednesday by calling 267-0968 or visiting Hunter's website at www.huntermuseum.org. Prices are $40 per person for admission or $60 per person for admission and one smash and grab ticket. Additional smash and grab tickets are $25 each or five for $100.

Casual or party attire is appropriate.

A preview of the silent auction items can be seen on Hunter's website.

Email Ann Nichols at annsnichols@aol.com.

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