- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ear-splitting funk music and gyrating disco dancers greeted 500 “downtown” arts patrons at Washington Project for the Arts/Corcoran’s annual gala in the Corcoran Gallery’s soaring atrium Saturday night.

Bidding on works by local artists, both established (William Christenberry) and lesser-known (John Blee), was as much a part of the scene as the elegantly dressed couples dining on crab and pecan-crusted tenderloin.

Guests competed to bid up Alain Poro’s mixed media work, “The Scream” — not to be confused, of course, with Edvard Munch’s recently stolen work — chosen by former WPA head and juror Adolfo V. Nodal; Colby Caldwell’s ink-jet, hand-waxed “Sea Picture” (selected by Corcoran senior curator of photography and media arts Philip Brookman); Travis Fullerton’s four chromogenic prints on gator board, titled “Willoughby Bay, Norfolk, Va.” (a choice of Richmond curator Ashley Kistler); and the late Carroll Sockwell’s oversized charcoal, “Mirror Composition” (selected by dealer Jean Efron).

WPA/C supporters also bid on more moderately priced offerings that began with the $200 art centerpieces whisked off the tables the minute dinner was over.

Alice Denney, who founded WPA in 1975, was on hand to present an eponymously named award to Corcoran board members Susan and Dixon Butler. The feisty arts doyenne recalled her first 1975 show at 1227 G Street NW for “artists without galleries” Jim Sanborn, Manon Cleary and Yuri Schwebler, among others.

WPA/C’s recently appointed director, Kim Ward, reported that the event, sponsored by E*Trade Financial and other local corporations, raised an estimated $250,000.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

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