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Shedd Aquarium fundraiser puts action into art collecting

Outside of the occasional 5K or fun run, it’s not often most of us find the need to limber up before a fundraiser. But then, that’s the appeal of the Shedd Aquarium’s “Art Sharks” event coming up on Feb. 6: It’s part philanthropy, part art exhibition, part sporting event.

Here’s how it’ll work: Beginning at 6 p.m., guests will enjoy a cocktail hour at the aquarium, during which they’ll be able to peruse about 150 pieces of art donated mostly by local artists and friends of Shedd. Then they’ll sit down for a nice, civilized dinner. And then, after dessert is served and everyone’s pleasantly full, they’ll run like hell to grab whatever single piece of art most caught their eye.

That last part isn’t quite as chaotic as it sounds. Following dinner, guests’ names will be pulled at random and announced, signaling that they can make their break for whatever piece they’ve had their eye on. But names will be called every 10 to 15 seconds, which means there’s little time for dallying or indecision. “People are taking off their shoes and running” to the art, says Katie Clark, donor relations and special events program manager for the aquarium. If the piece in question is too big to actually grab and carry, guests can also grab a number Velcroed to it in order to stake their claim.

Some of the artists who donated work will be on hand during the cocktail hour, giving guests the chance to actually discuss the work with them before deciding on a target piece. Artist Nancie King Mertz will also be at the event, working live and before guests’ very eyes on a painting that will then go on sale via a silent auction. Proceeds from the event will assist the aquarium with education and student programs.

For tax purposes, each piece up for grabs at the event has been valued at between $100 and $900, which means that even factoring in the $450 admission, attendees have a chance to nab a significant bargain. (The $450 ticket includes admission for one and one piece of art; for other ticket options, click here. Tickets can be purchased online through Feb. 5 at 5 p.m. and, if available, at the door.) But forget the finances. We have a feeling most guests will be in it for something deeper: their love of the Shedd, perhaps, or their love of education, or if nothing else, their love of the game.

For more information, e-mail kclark@sheddaquarium.org or call (312) 692-2713.

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