By Assunta Ng
The Wing Luke Asian Museum showcased a parade of impressive Asian Americans’ artwork at its annual dinner last Saturday at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel. More than 50 Asian Americans created some of their most amazing pieces for The Wing’s auction, which raised $400,000.
More than 500 guests, including elected officials and members from the mainstream and Asian communities, gathered to support the event.
People have been showing up for years to support the only pan-Asian museum in the country. Mind you, each ticket is $175. To keep its crowd over 500 annually is quite an achievement. The Wing is able to attract many of its repeat customers year after year.
The Wing has become smart in auctioning many of its items with duplicates. When the bid went high, the auctioneer enjoyed telling the bidders that he had two instead of one to sell to the top two bidders.
Strong and generous board
Ellen Ferguson, co-president of The Wing board for the past 11 years, always sets a great example for board members to follow. Although the auctioneer asked for $5,000 as the highest amount from the audience, Ferguson often exceeded the “ask” by donating $10,000. Proceeds fund The Wing’s youth programs.
Not only that, the board members often invite wealthy folks who are willing to write checks and bid high for auction items. That made a big difference in the total amount raised. If you think you can get a deal at the Wing’s auction, I would suggest it never works. My friend was thinking of bidding $800 on Lolan Lo’s “Eight Horses” painting. But the board members quickly outbid him. The bids skyrocketed above what some in the audience had in mind. The horse painting sold to two different guests for $2,400 each.
Lo, a painter and calligrapher, said she only needed to spend one hour to paint each of the pieces. The buyers might respond with, “Oh no!”
But wait, if you knew Lo’s process, you would understand. Now 80 years old, she said, “I have to paint many, many pieces to pick one good one.” That could mean throwing away 20 to 30 artworks before she is completely satisfied with the perfect set of eight horses.
Why eight and not five? In Chinese culture, eight symbolizes luck. What a way to tie in with the Year of the Horse! Lo has spent her whole life practicing drawing horses.
Lo’s daughter Katherine Cheng, Wing’s board member, wrote in her email, “My mom started painting when she was 63. She was a cancer researcher and she began to paint in this style a few years before she retired. She paints on rice paper and it’s bordered with silk paper. Horses are her favorite subject because of the movement and the ability to capture the strength. But she also loves to paint flowers, especially peonies and scenery as well.” (end)