Bidders at the Lawrence Arts Center's art auction Saturday night looked like they were watching a tennis match -- twisting from side to side to follow a spectacular volley.
Two patrons were batting the bid for Elizabeth ``Grandma'' Layton's ``Wishing Well'' back and forth. The racquets were $1,000 bills.
``Who'sgoingtogivemefourthousand?'' said auctioneer Kasey Wold, rattling like a busted engine rod.
A man in the back nodded his head. The crowd roared.
``DoIhearfivethousand?'' Wold said. A hand went up on the right side of the room.
Then $5,500, and $5,600, all the way to $6,000.
``Do I hear $6,100?'' Wold said. ``Sold.''
Valued in the auction program at $3,000, Layton's bright, colored-pencil drawing went for $6,000 -- a record for the 13-year-old auction.
Layton's piece also helped push the total take for the evening past last year's record of $33,000. Including ticket sales, Saturday's auction brought in $38,000, said Ann Evans, director of the center.
``We're real pleased. Several pieces went for over $1,000, and I know last year only four pieces went for more than $1,000,'' Evans said.
Proceeds from the auction help pay for classes, exhibits and performances offered by the center.
Evans had predicted that the piece by Layton, a nationally renowned artist who died last month, would do well. The Wellsville artist created ``Wishing Well'' specifically for sale at the auction, and the work is thought to be one of her last.
Evans' husband, Dave Evans, put in the winning bid for ``Wishing Well'' on behalf of a local couple. They requested anonymity.
Close to 200 bidders and onlookers attended the auction, which doubled as a social event. Local political and community leaders hobnobbed with artists in the arts center lobby. Scores of hardcore bidders filled the center's performance hall.
``It's a fun way to contribute,'' said Mark Schneider, who has come to the auction for the last three years.
He took a crack at ``Wishing Well'' when the bidding was below $4,000.
``I would have paid $5,000 for it,'' he said. ``I thought it might go for $7,500 or $10,000. It could have been the last piece she did.''
Schneider usually purchases work at the auction, although not much in this year's crop caught his eye.
``The artists, I think they give quality pieces. I don't think they dump anything here,'' he said.
Local artist T. Watson Bogaard waited nervously for her mixed media piece, ``Tonic Chord,'' to hit the auction block. A donor to the auction for the last four years, she said the event can be nerve wracking.
``It's kind of like being in a popularity contest. You hope that you're going to be popular, but then maybe they will throw tomatoes at you,'' she said.
Bogaards's ``Tonic Chord'' finally went for $700.
``I was shocked,'' she said, pleasantly suprised.