Ah Haa Art Auction

“Onward and Upward” is the theme for this year’s Ah Haa School for the Arts Art Auction Friday. (Photo by Sophie Stuber/Telluride Daily Planet)

For the 27th year running, Ah Haa School for the Arts will host its annual art auction. The popular event will take place today (Friday) at the Depot building on 300 South Townsend Street. The summer auction is one of the largest fundraisers for the Telluride arts school and has become a mainstay event for the local community.

This year’s auction is a bit sentimental, as it is the last auction in the Depot before Ah Haa moves into their new space at the intersection of Fir and Pacific. This year’s theme is “Onward and Upward” in honor of the big transition. The planned move is expected in May of 2020, explained Judy Kohin, Ah Haa’s Executive Director.

In an interview with the Planet, Kohin explained the necessity of the new building. “We’re moving because we need more space. We need better equipped studios that are designed for an art school. And we believe that it will be a better location so we can expand our programming for the community. We’re so excited.”

There are two silent auction rooms: one for artwork and the other for goods and services. Local and regional artists contributed art  for both the live and silent auctions. Enthusiasts can start silent auction bidding early if desired, and Ah Haa offers absentee bidding via phone.

In addition to art, people can bid on events, adventure trips, hotel stays, and other experiences that local businesses donate to be auctioned off.

Almost anyone can find something they like at this year’s auction. There are items such as a package that includes a custom pair of Wagner Skis, a two night stay at Red Mountain Alpine Lodge and two days of guided skiing with San Juan Mountain Guides. Avid concert goers have a choice between tickets to a Rolling Stones concert in Denver or a Lady Gaga concert in Las Vegas. And there’s even a six-night trip to New York City available.

A Tiger Cargo electric bike is up for auction, as well as a signed guitar from 2018 Telluride Blues & Brews Festival performer, rock legend Robert Plant, and, of course, ski passes to Telluride Ski Resort. Adrenaline junkies can bid on an “Onward and Upward” package that includes skydiving, paragliding, a hot air balloon ride, and flights from Telluride to Denver.

Since Ah Haa plans to move into their new space in next May, this year’s auction offers some specialized events in the new location. Bidders can win a party in the new Ah Haa community space (complete with rooftop deck). While the parents are out socializing, the kids can have their own sleepover party at the Depot building, which includes art activities, pizza and cake.

Last but not least, this year’s auction offers a special mystery box for people to bid on. Ah Haa will not reveal what the box contains until the bidding is over.

“There’s going to be a surprise box with a very juicy item that we’re not going to give away until the night of the event,” said Kathleen Cole, Ah Haa Marketing & Special Events Manager.

Beyond the auctions events, there will also be appetizers from Aemono and the Gyro cart and bar service for drinks. Mishke will again serve as Master of Ceremonies this year. Kohin and Cole also promised some special musical performances.

“We have a surprise celebrity performer, performing on the Robert Plant-signed guitar,” said Cole. Lady Gaga (or a celebrity doppelganger) might even make an appearance in honor of her concert tickets being auctioned, Kohin hinted.

Kohin has high hopes for this year’s turnout.

“This is the 27th year of this auction, and last year was a phenomenal year for the event. We raised more money than we ever have, and I never thought we could exceed that, but I think this community has been so generous and loves the Ah Haa School. People come out for this event and we have so much gratitude for the community for supporting us through all these years.”

This year’s paddle raise will directly fund the new Ah Haa building. Ah Haa has a remaining $750,000 balance left of their $9.3 million goal for the new facility.

Cole and Kohin added special thanks to all the community sponsors and donors, especially title sponsors Slate Gray and Alpine Bank, and San Miguel Power Association and Basin Electric Power Cooperative. Telluride Ski and Golf also donated a very generous package, Kohin added.

Tickets are available for purchase at ahaa.org. General admission tickets are $35 per person in advance and $40 at the door. Reserved seating is available for $100, but must be purchased over the phone. Doors for the silent auction open at 6pm, and the live auction begins at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, or to absentee bid, call 970-728-3886.