John Kuhn knows how to brush the shadows, colors and surfaces of inanimate objects onto canvas. When you look at ``Pears,'' you can almost taste their sweetness and you want to rub your fingers over the artwork to check out the defects in the fruit's skin.
Kuhn's acrylic painting was chosen to appear on this year's publicity material for the Lawrence Art Center's 18th Annual Art Auction. He and his artist wife, Margie, have donated their time and talents to the event for at least 10 years.
Kuhn, who came to Lawrence to attend Kansas University in the late 1960s and never left, said he prefers portraits of objects over landscapes and other subjects. He also prefers to work on a larger-than-life scale; his paintings are usually 36-by-36 inches or 45-by-45 inches.
``I primarily do still lifes of fruit and candy. It's usually a simple portrayal of those things against a simple background,'' he said.
``Some of it has to do with surface attraction -- the defects and shadows and different colors. Some of it is ... the way they're set in isolation. I like the play of the forms.''
Ann Evans, director of the arts center, said she is grateful to the Kuhns and other artists who donate their work so the arts center can continue its classes and programs.
``This wonderful support from the artists is fabulous,'' she said. ``One of their pieces is a far greater gift than a family or business membership.''
This year, more than 160 paintings, sculptures, drawings, jewelry pieces, glass works, ceramic pieces and photographs are going on the auction block, either in the silent auction or the live auction.
Last year, the event raised $43,000.
Rick Mitchell, a photographer who works as special projects director at the arts center, said the average market value of works in this year's live auction is more than $200.
Items of lower value are typically available in the silent auction.
``People who are serious (about the silent auction) know to come in and not wait to put in their bid,'' Evans said.
Last year, Evans said, two buyers at the live auction got into a bidding war over one of Mitchell's photographs. As a result, Mitchell received calls after the event and sold seven more of his photographs.
``The buyers like to come and meet the artists,'' she said, ``and it's a great time for the artists to meet the people who buy their work.''
Plus the auction is loads of fun.
``It's the best public party in Lawrence, with all kinds of people there,'' Evans said. ``Everyone is welcome and everyone fits in here.''
-- Jan Biles' phone message number is 832-7146. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.