Fierce Competition at Whodunit? Gala Preview

by Christine Donnelly
Image: Prozac by Steven James Brown

I went in focused on the Prozac.

At the 8th annual OCAD Whodunit? Gala Preview, just getting a clear view of the more than one hundred works of art on the walls was a matter of fierce competition. Packed in the school’s Great Hall, patrons stood shoulder-to-shoulder viewing lots from students and faculty, celebrated artists, designers and creative celebrities alike. And there, flanked by paintings of a T-bone steak, an ink rendering of power lines and a sculpture of OCAD itself, I found my lot (B54); an appositely serene photograph of a bottle of Prozac.

Opening bid: $150. I put down my glass of wine and signed the bidding sheet immediately.

“We are hoping to raise about $150k,” said Jessica Kamphorst, President of the OCAD Foundation. “(The money) goes to support specialized equipment in our studios… everything from ‘old world’ equipment for painters, to cutting edge digital equipment like digital embroidery machines.”

The heady mixture of competitive bidding, rousing art and an open bar can have a strange effect on people. Having paid for the cab in toonies and quarters, my date was so moved by a colour pencil sketch of a hot air balloon that he turned to me in earnest and whispered, “I really, really want that balloon one… Really fucking bad.” How bad? $350 bad.

It wasn’t until 9:09, 6 minutes before close, that someone else bid on my photograph. Who was this ‘Liz Jordan’, and what was she trying to do? My eyes darted from clock, to Prozac bottle, to the brewing war on the bidding sheet before me. With just 5 seconds to spare I grabbed a pen. 5, 4, 3, 2, mine!


  1. Angela, Brayham Contemporary Art
    November 28, 2009

    Thanks Christine for your interest in Steven’s work and your support of OCAD. http://brayhamcontemporaryart.blogspot.com/2009/11/steven-james-brown-whodunit-ocads.html

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