Auckland Grammar School Art Expo

One look at the motto inscribed over the arch at the main entrance and I had a certain song from Funny Business running through my head:

Per angusta
Ad augusta
Per angusta
What does that mean?
Per angusta
Ad augusta
Who cares?
Only poofs take Latin!

Such was the tenor of my thoughts throughout the evening. The cartoonists had their own little ghetto in the hall onstage (we spotted the wooden magpie immediately) and everything was nicely presented. The framer hadn’t bothered to spend a minute with an iron to remove the creases in two of my prints, but one quickly had a red ‘sold’ sticker placed besides it, so it couldn’t have appeared that bad.

Artist & Children (photo by Anita)

There were about 600 pieces of art on display, and they were uniformly tasteful with only a few clangers, like the artwork originally priced at $800 with a biro emendation of “$45” and rather too much stuff designed to match people’s lounge suites. There was a single brave installation piece consisting of cut-up books arranged on a shelf – I don’t think it’ll sell*. The most expensive painting I saw was $16,000, but it’ll probably sell*.

Overall, prices struck me as being quite high, but the crowd for the opening seemed up for it. In fact, the people were as interesting as the paintings. I had a nice talk with Otis Frizzell, who commanded his own pop-art corner and turned out to be very pleasant, and I got to meet Chris Slane, who is pretty much the only NZ political cartoonist who has been around for a while whose work I respect. Relievedly, he was also very nice, although he looks alarmingly like Spider Jerusalem. I also got to meet caricaturist Daron Parton and Herald cartoonist Guy Body.

Three hours later the booze showed no signs of running out (unheard of for a Wellington exhibition) and everyone was raucously congregating in the middle while offensively polite and tall senior students lounged around with trays of canapés. I’d had a few weird encounters with the endless supply of Ladies Who Lunch who make up a fair part of this city, but nowadays I take being patronised by people with 500 times my net worth in my stride. Not much had sold by the end of the evening, but we’ll return on Sunday to check it out again.

*It didn’t.

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