Among the members of the SFA Friends of the Visual Arts are, from left, Mike Bay, Stanley Bohon, Cat Albers, Linda Mock, Kat Garcia, Lisa Steed, Lou Hugman, Jill Carrington, Stephanie Stephens, Jean Stephens, who is chairman of the 12X12 fundraiser, and Meredith Fleming.

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - Local art lovers have a special treat to look forward to in this year's 12X12 fundraiser of the SFA Friends of the Visual Arts, compliments of the late - and great - Gary Frields.

The silent auction bidding began last week for this year's 12X12 event benefitting the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art, and a separate special auction will feature the last artwork of Frields, beloved SFA art professor who died last year.

The 12-by-12-inch panels of artwork created by approximately 70 artist from Nacogdoches, Lufkin and other areas of East Texas went on display July 2 at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House, and the bidding will continue until and conclude with the party and sale at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 19, at the downtown art center.

Serving as chairman of the event again this year is Jean Stephens, and working with her are Gary Parker, who was in charge of hanging the show; Lisa Steed, who is in charge of information and publicity; Stephanie Stephens and Carol Athey, who will serve as cashiers for the sale; Karon Gillespie, Merci Nicklas, Richard Orton and Damon Ruckel, who are in charge of food and drinks; and Kat Garcia, who is organizing raffle ticket sales.

"It takes the whole FVA group to make the 12X12 work," Stephens said.

The artists do not sign the front of their work so no one knows who created which piece. At the July 19 party and sale, each 12X12 artwork not bid on (and this is the vast majority of the work, Stephens said) will be sold for $100.
"The sale is first-come, first-serve basis beginning at 6 p.m.," Stephens said. "Raffle tickets are sold for $5 each or $20 for five tickets, and any unsold work will be raffled off beginning at 7:05. For a $5 investment, you have a chance to have a wonderful work of art. The show comes down as people take home their purchased art."

The purpose of 12X12 is to raise much-needed funds to help art students pursue their dreams of becoming successful artists, according to Stephens.

"The 12X12 Fundraiser is important to both the FVA and SFA art students, because it's success determines the amount of financial support we can give the students," she said.

Within the past year, the FVA awarded more than $9,000 in Friendship Grants and scholarships to 21 students; the awards ranged from $200 to $400 per student. The grants were awarded to help defray the costs of special projects for their art classes or MBA/BA exhibition or to attend conference or school trips that will help with their professional careers, such as Maymester trips for art students to go to Santa Fe, N.M., and Colorado. This summer, the organization awarded scholarships for three students to attend the SFA Art Academy.

The piece by Frields will certainly be a popular item for bidding and will have a significant impact in generating scholarship funds, Stephens said.

"Last summer, the FVA and the SFA art community lost a treasured friend when former SFA art professor Gary Frields died," she said. "Gary appreciated the support work done by the Friends of the Visual Arts. He was always generous in donating art to our fundraisers. We are especially grateful this year to have his last artwork - a 12X12 entitled 'The Last Dance.' This work will be featured in a special auction."

Another supporter of 12X12 is Stanley Bohon, a Lufkin artist and a member of the Friends of the Visual Arts.

"I am a strong supporter of the arts and find that this organization fulfills my personal goals of encouraging/supporting young artists," Bohon said, "and allows me a way of giving back to the community."

"Through the years, the FVA has had wonderful support of many talented artists," Stephens said. "Their continued generous support is what makes our fundraiser successful. The loyal public who attend the 12X12 social and sale are the people who make our scholarship funding possible. The FVA is thankful for both these groups."

The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. For more information about 12X12, call The Cole Art Center at (936) 468-6557.