Gallery fundraiser presents work by top artists at rock-bottom prices

Mike Dunham
Julie Decker, "The vision & the riddle," part of the "Rothko/Room" group show that runs in conjunction with the 100x100 exhibit at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art
Julie Decker

100x100, the "almost semi-annual" show at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art, is like the dime candy shop for those with a tooth for new artwork. The exhibition consists of 100 pieces by several of Alaska's best-known abstract and modern artists -- all priced at $100 or less.

"It seeks to make contemporary artwork accessible through multiple pieces by individual artists in a range of styles and media -- and prices that allow the artwork to be purchased by people without breaking their banks," said Michele Suchland, the executive director of the gallery. "It's kind of a quick-fire view of the arts scene, stacked into the gallery, salon-style, for a month."

The popular show has been held once or twice each year since 2003. Some of the funds raised help the gallery pay the rent and keep programs going.

But not all of the funds. Suchland said the main purpose of the event is to have good work available for less than one Benjamin. The gallery receives a portion of each sale as a commission, but whether the artist wishes to donate his or her portion of the sale is up to them.

Many do just that.

"The IGCA is the only nonprofit organization in Anchorage dedicated solely to contemporary visual art," said Suchland. "Artists receive a commission on most of the works. But when they donate, they do so as a way to support the mission of the gallery. The gallery, in turn, supports the work they do and provides a professional venue for artists. So it's mutually beneficial."

There are several months when the non-profit gallery displays installations or conceptual work that has no clear commercial value. That means no sales are being made. Special events like "Operation Runway," memberships and the 100x100 show have to make up the difference.

At press time, artists participating this year included Don Mohr, Esther Hong, Enzina Marrari, Kim Marcucci, Wanda Seamster, Keren Lowell, Lesley Harrison, Zhanna Lukyanova and Suchland herself.

"There'll be more as we get closer" to the opening on Friday, Suchland said. "Some people don't bring in their art until the weekend before the opening."

Typically the items in 100x100 are on the smaller side, though occasionally an artist will submit a big piece to the cause. Media range from photos and drawings to oil paints, fiber, collage and mixed media. Sometimes sculpture is offered, though the cost of materials in a sculptural work can preclude the cut-rate price tag.

100x100 will open with a reception at 5:30 Friday along with several other shows. Nakaii and Carla Rogers will have work in the Guest Room space. Something called "Funk Your Junk Garage Sale," another fundraising effort, will be under way in the North Gallery.

Suchland called it "a garage sale installation. Basically, garage sale items are set up as an installation" that changes as items are removed by buyers.

"We're calling it a 'progressive deinstallation,' " she said, "hoping it will deinstall itself when people purchase and take the items."

On the south space of the building, another group exhibition of art inspired by Mark Rothko will be shown. (Among the artists displaying paintings in that show is Anchorage Museum chief curator Julie Decker; the museum recently announced, that following the departure of director James Pepper Henry on July 5, she'll be the interim director until a permanent successor is named.)

Rothko's controversial late work rested entirely on color and mood, avoiding shape and line. He's the subject of the play "Red," which opens at Cyrano's Friday, and the show is being hung in conjunction with the play.

By the way, one of Rothko's enigmatic paintings, "No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue)," sold at auction for $75 million last November -- which may help put the $100 prices in the 100x100 show in perspective.


Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.