SEMVA Art Gallery is turning to Facebook to drum up foot traffic this week — but not in the way you think.

After coronavirus closure, the art gallery was looking for ways to get its name back out in the community, said SEMVA President Bobbie Gallas. So beginning Tuesday, they’ll hold an online auction to raise funds for participating artists.

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Sandy Hokanson: ‘A tapestry of night - Pileated Woodpecker’ 15.5" x 21.5"; Signed & Framed Print (from SEMVA's online auction)
Sandy Hokanson: ‘A tapestry of night - Pileated Woodpecker’ 15.5" x 21.5"; Signed & Framed Print (from SEMVA's online auction)

But the auction is a little different — bidders will comment on SEMVA’s Facebook photo gallery with their bids. The auction begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, and continues through 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9. A few artists monitoring the comment sections will alert winners at the end of the bidding period. The artists take home 60% of the sales, while SEMVA will receive 40%, Gallas said.

Paul LeDuc; ‘Morning on the Root River’ 17” x 15” x 1”; Oil Painting (from SEMVA's online auction)
Paul LeDuc; ‘Morning on the Root River’ 17” x 15” x 1”; Oil Painting (from SEMVA's online auction)

By design, the auction will take place entirely online — but interested parties can visit the pieces at SEMVA between Tuesday and Saturday, if they’d like to see the art in person.

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SEMVA opened back up in June, but hours have fluctuated, as Gallas is loathe to pressure artists who are not comfortable working to take shifts.

Beth Kraft; Right on Rivoli Bracelet 7”; Swarovski Crystals & beads (from SEMVA's online auction)
Beth Kraft; Right on Rivoli Bracelet 7”; Swarovski Crystals & beads (from SEMVA's online auction)

“We’ve gotten some traffic, we’ve gotten our repeat customers back — they came to seek us out pretty early to see what was going on,” Gallas said. “Other than that, downtown is still very quiet. We haven’t gotten the walk-by traffic. We’re pushing Facebook and trying to get people in, but it’s slow, like it is for everyone.”

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The gallery currently has about 60 showing artists, plus a few more members. Every showing member had the option to enter two pieces into the auction — they took their own photos and set a beginning bidding price. Gallas selected an ink doodle and beaded, birch ornament to display — and the rest of the artists also selected a wide range of mediums.

Brianna Stenzel: Pink/Mint Acrylic & Resin Pour Painting 8” X 10” X .125”; Acrylic, gilding paint, clear resin
Brianna Stenzel: Pink/Mint Acrylic & Resin Pour Painting 8” X 10” X .125”; Acrylic, gilding paint, clear resin

“We got some really unique stuff out there, which we’re hoping will drum up some interest,” Gallas said.

As an artist, the coronavirus shutdown has been a creative roller coaster, Gallas said. While it afforded her the time to try new things and work ahead, “during the shutdown, it was a little bit depressing.”

Bobbie Gallas, SEMVA president
Bobbie Gallas, SEMVA president

“I think for everybody, it was a real up-and-down type of thing,” Gallas said. “I worked on some new things and my old stuff, but there were a couple, few weeks in there where I didn’t do anything.”

Getting more money in the hands of artists is crucial, she said — and of course, the auction will also help ensure SEMVA’s survival.

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“I would love to see every single artist sell at least one piece,” Gallas said. “They deserve it. They stuck with us through thick and thin.”

Bobbie Gallas; Beaded Ornament on Birch 11” x 15”; Mixed Media (from SEMVA's online auction)
Bobbie Gallas; Beaded Ornament on Birch 11” x 15”; Mixed Media (from SEMVA's online auction)

If you go

What: SEMVA Art Gallery

Where: 320 S. Broadway, Rochester

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. Hours may fluctuate, so call 507-281-4920 before visiting.

Online auction: 2 p.m. Aug. 4 through 2 p.m. Aug. 9, held on the SEMVA Art Gallery Facebook page: www.facebook.com/semvagallery.