“Most people are intimidated when they first come in, but soon they realize the guy calling the auction likes football, beer and chicken wings, and can have a normal conversation with them. It’s art collecting for the regular person.” This quote, from Sunday’s Auction House co-founder and auctioneer John Henninger, sums up the balance Sunday’s auction experience strives to achieve. One or two Sundays per month, Sunday’s Auction House holds a live, pop-up auction, featuring paintings, photography, and prints from emerging New York City artists (their next auction includes works from Pratt Institute’s Class of 2013), as well as prints from famous artists such as Dali, Chagall, and Picasso. With sales ranging from $100 to $10,000, Sunday’s Auction House shows pieces to accommodate art enthusiasts from all backgrounds.
Henninger and his partners, Gretchen Adams and Jessica Kahn, worked together at the elegant William Bennett Gallery on Greene Street until it closed its doors in early 2012. Each moved on to other careers but shared a desire to keep a foot in the art world. An auction house seemed a logical fit, given Henninger’s four years of international experience as an auctioneer prior to moving to New York. Coupled with the pedigree of the William Bennett Gallery, the group quickly had dealers eager to sell off their excess inventory and artists lining up to showcase their work. They sought investors, and were operational in five months.
The auction itself, or “the show,” as they have come to refer to it, runs forty-five minutes to an hour. In this time, Sunday’s will generally auction off fifty to sixty pieces, most of which come framed and ready to hang. While rather quick, the shows are certainly not straight to the point. In the spirit of ensuring the comfort of all participants, Henninger offers a bit of education about the different mediums (lithography, etching, serigraphy) and the artists. Better yet, Sunday’s creates something of a party atmosphere, offering prizes, games, drinks, live music, and appearances from the artists themselves. They’ve even partnered with HowAboutWe.com, providing couples with drinks, gift bags, and bidder credit to purchase art.
Sunday’s Auction House just celebrated their one-year anniversary. Chief among their goals for this first year was to incorporate local charities into every show. During the past few shows, they have auctioned off two to three pieces whose total proceeds go towards individual Brooklyn families who lost their homes to Superstorm Sandy. Their next goal is to grow their business to the point at which they can open their own storefront.
If you are interested in attending a pop-up show, RSVP on the Sunday’s Auction House website. They post as soon as they secure a site and a date, and publish a catalog online beforehand. Recognizing that many New Yorkers leave the city on summer weekends, Sunday’s will be trying some Thursday shows this summer as well. The next show, just announced, will be on Sunday, July 14th on the Bowery, with an opening reception (and short auction) on Thursday, July 11th.
Interested artists and dealers, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (Galleries too! Sunday’s acts as an auction house for hire.) Because they offer a more populist approach to art collecting, Henninger is keen to suggest that they will expand on your typical audience. “We attract anyone who is interested in art with any budget.” Sunday’s Auction House provides an auction atmosphere without pretense, and the resulting inclusivity sets them apart from the typical New York City art scene.
Get in touch with the author @underfang.