‘Wet Paint’ raises more than $121,000 for Newport Art Museum

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The Newport Art Museum’s beloved art making event and fundraiser, Wet Paint, wrapped up on Sunday, August 12 raising a grand total of $121,780 for the Museum’s exhibitions, outreach, education and historic preservation. On Saturday, 380 artists of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels made art and donated their work, much of it still wet, to the Museum. Over the weekend, 455 pieces went up for sale in silent and live auctions. Event co-chairs Rupert Nesbitt, Lani Liuzza and Marie Samuels led a committee of volunteers to produce the weekend of art making and appreciation.

“The weekend experience was priceless!” said John Grosvenor, Wet Paint committee member and son of event honoree, the late Richard (Dick) Grosvenor, in a press release on Wednesday. “It was a true celebration of the arts. The weekend’s events exemplified goodwill and a groundswell of great community support.”

This year’s event marked the 25th anniversary of Wet Paint, and thus honored event co-founder Dick Grosvenor and his numerous contributions to the Newport Art Museum. From his first exhibited work at the Museum in 1946, to his tenor as President of the Board of Trustees from 1980-1990, to his inspired fundraising idea of Wet Paint, Grosvenor’s mark and infectious community spirit have been indelibly stamped upon the event.

According to event co-chair Rupert Nesbitt, gray skies on Saturday did not deter swarms of participating artists from creating work en plein air. “It’s a testament to the exuberance and visual creativity of our participating artists that we were not inundated with a bunch of dreary paintings,” said Nesbitt in the release. “Instead, the work sparkled with everything from splashy waveforms, pure colorful abstractions, beach views, Newport’s architecture and countless studio pieces. The unstoppable Raku pottery community was undeterred by weather and generated a dramatic array of pieces.”

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Nesbitt went on to say, “Wet Paint is an enormously complex production – uniquely so, in that all the art arrives at the Museum just hours before it is showcased. The payoff is in the surprise of what lands on the walls that no one could anticipate a few hours earlier. It’s a rare thing for the public to be so closely tied to the moment of so much artwork’s creation.”

Bidding began with a silent auction during the Wet Paint Preview Party on Saturday night that continued into Sunday, raising $58,420. Wet Paint culminated in its live auction Sunday afternoon, with auctioneer Robbie Gordy of Christie’s selling 19 pieces, which raised an additional $27,550. Gordy, along with Museum Senior Curator Francine Weiss, went on to facilitate a paddle raise for the Museum’s collections care, raising $8,700. Additional funds were raised from sponsorships, Preview Party admission, the cash bar, sales of snacks and other refreshments, and additional donations made over the weekend. Funds raised support Museum programming, events, acquisitions and collections care.

For more information on the Newport Art Museum, visit www.newportartmuseum.org.

Photo: Bidders had the option to secure a purchase with the “buy it now” option for the pieces they had to have. Photo provided by Newport Art Museum.

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