These 12-inch-square artworks and almost 60 others will be included in the annual "12 x 12" fund-raiser sponsored by the SFA Friends of the Visual Arts. The exhibition opens Friday, July 13, and concludes with a closing party on Saturday, July 21.

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - Beginning Friday, July 13, East Texans can place their silent auction bids on any of over 60 12-inch square pieces of art on display at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House as part of the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art and Friends of the Visual Arts' annual "12 x 12" fund-raiser.

During the week leading up to the closing party on Saturday, July 21, patrons can come in any time during the gallery's normal hours to bid on the creations of SFA alumni, faculty members and graduate students, as well as Nacogdoches and Angelina County artists.

Each artist's creation, which began as a plain 12 x 12 wooden board, will be displayed anonymously and requires a minimum bid of $250.

At the closing party beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 21, any piece not yet bid on will then be available for $100 on a first-come, first-served basis. Later that evening, at 7:45, any remaining pieces will be sold through a raffle. Regardless of how a piece is sold - through the silent auction, direct purchase, or raffle - the name of the artist will not be revealed until the piece is claimed by its new owner.

"We use the money from this fund-raiser to assist SFA art students in a variety of ways," said Jean Stephens, member of the Friends of the Visual Arts and '12 x 12' committee chair. "We offer assistance with travel to professional conferences and sometimes help fund special projects. This aid often determines whether or not some of our students can participate in these extra events."

Aloma Marquis, SFA adjunct art faculty member, said she regularly creates a piece for the annual fund-raiser because she knows what it's like to need support, especially at the beginning of an art career.

"In addition to helping the students, the project allows me a chance to experiment and explore with my art," Marquis continued. "Part of my signature style remains pretty consistent for each piece, but my subject matter changes."

Stephens said the consistent size of the artwork in each '12 x 12' fund-raiser makes it easy for patrons gradually to build an interesting collection of unique but similar pieces.

"The closing party is a lot of fun," said Alisa Steed, interim director of SFA galleries. "The suspense of who'll win the silent auctions, the rush for the $100 pieces and the final raffle, combined with great fellowship and food make for great evening."

Admission to the gallery and the final party is free. Regular hours for The Cole Art Center are 12:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. in downtown Nacogdoches. For more information, please call (936) 468-1131.