Benicia’s arts community is one of its many treasures. When it comes to celebrating artists and their creations, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Arts Benicia Art Auction and Gala, an annual event with lots of dazzle and a bit of daring that always seems to make it onto everyone’s To Do List. This year’s signature fundraising event kicks off at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Benicia Clock Tower, 1189 Washington St. in the Benicia Arsenal. With a theme that covers the Wild West, movies and Steampunk, there’s something for everyone. What’s more is that participants can expect a galloping ride of artistic fun. “Anyone who has come to an auction knows it’s really the best party in town,” said Arts Benicia Executive Director Celeste Smeland.

The theme of this year’s auction, The Wild, Wild West—Silver Screen to Steampunk, is one that should be an open canvas to fill with fun and enjoyment.“Our theme is really new and different. It’s going to be really fun and everyone’s excited about it,” said Smeland. Arts Benicia is expecting a lively, decked-out crowd ready to party and enjoy some good times. Partygoers are encouraged to come in costume, though they are not required. Once again, 3 Stage Lighting will provide ambiance and lighting design. A small army of volunteers will work to decorate the Clock Tower and evoke the feeling of an old-time Western saloon. A DJ will play throughout the evening and provide general dancing music later into the night. The evening also includes hors d’oeuvres and dessert, silent and live auctions and Michael Van Auken’s popular photography corner. Rellik Tavern will pour the drinks.

Lawrence Fox


End of Day

Nikki Basch-Davis

The gala does far more than provide an entertaining night out on the town. It’s Arts Benicia’s primary fundraiser with proceeds supporting educational and cultural programming, teen arts classes, exhibits and keeping the doors open at its Benicia Arsenal gallery and offices. After expenses, last year’s gala brought in $24,000; this year’s goal is to meet that amount or more.

Rob Jenkins

Tower of Reason


Art, of course, is at the forefront of the event. Benicia artists donate between 60 and 80 items to be auctioned off. Other auction items include “Adventure Packages” with restaurant coupons, Disneyland tickets, local wine and similar items. However, the art is the key.“The art work is all donated generously by our very talented community of artists who support us with our work,” said Smeland.To give people a sneak peak of auction items, Arts Benicia will post an online review of both the silent and live auctions on its website. There will also be a “buy it now” feature of ten silent auction art pieces. During the event, art collectors and others are expected from throughout the Bay Area and Sacramento region. Tickets for the Arts Benicia Art Auction and Gala went on sale in mid-August at a cost of $45 in advance and $50 at the door. Tickets will be sold in advance on the Arts

Kerry Vander Meer

Seed Burst

Benicia website at, or by calling the Arts Benicia office at 707.747.0131. Advance tickets are also sold at Bookshop Benicia; 636 First St. Sponsorships are also available. Those who are interested in providing an even greater level of support to Arts Benicia can call Smeland at 707.747.0131, or email for more information.