Every two years like clockwork, Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond presents the ultimate recycled art show fundraiser, Bling it Out. This year, 35 artists were given access to $25 worth of select items from Diversity Thrift to transform into brilliant new pieces of art.
There’s a Trivial Pursuit game board that became the base for a gold-toned Byzantine-inspired piece that the artist calls “In Pursuit of Black Rabbit Happiness.” For another artist, a framed coat of arms got a facelift when instead of a family name and motto, it was transformed to read “We are Family.” An embroidered Hummel depiction of a little girl becomes almost tapestry-like when enhanced by cascading black beads echoing the girl’s outline.
These works and 32 more will debut at Iridian Gallery’s opening on Thursday, Dec. 10 from 6 – 9 p.m. Unlike past years, there will be no food or alcohol served at the opening and masks will be required. To comply with social distancing, Diversity Thrift will stay open late that evening so that people can shop or wait in the larger space for their turn in the gallery.
Iridian Gallery’s mission is to foster lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+ artists and their community by exhibiting their art, as well as work that relates to their lived experiences.
“The idea of artists using thrift store finds and repurposing them made sense because of Diversity Thrift,” explains Michael-Birch Pierce, co-chair of the gallery and a Diversity board member. “Everyone knows the big, gay thrift store, so it was a way to get people excited.”
For those not comfortable going to a gallery setting, the artwork will also be immediately available to bid on at the gallery’s Instagram account and continue through Dec. 17.
Bidding on a piece of art is as simple as leaving a comment with the bid under the image of the piece of art and must be placed in multiples of $10 above the starting price, which is determined by the artist based on what they’d usually charge. For those new to bidding at auction, by commenting you agree to pay the full purchase price plus VA sales tax should you end up with the highest bid. Comments will be time-stamped and identical bids will be given to the first to comment. All profits made during "Bling It Out 3" will be used for Diversity Richmond’s programming, including Iridian Gallery.
For those not willing to take a chance on being outbid, all art pieces will have a knockout price, essentially higher than fair market value, so they’ll be available for instant purchase. Winning bidders will be contacted to arrange payment and the artwork needs to be picked up in person between Dec. 19 and 20 during the gallery’s open hours, Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
And because this is a group show, there will also be the selection of a Best in Show piece by Quirk Gallery and Hotel's Katie Ukrop on opening night, with the recipient being awarded $250. Another $250 prize will be awarded on Dec. 17 for audience favorite and that gets decided by Instagram likes. All bidding takes place from Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. until Dec. 17 at noon.
For the artists, who were chosen by the gallery’s committee members, Bling It Out 3 is an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone.
“Some artists worked in mediums they’d never worked in, one piece even has a motorized element and one did a still life based on the object, so there are all sorts of cool things in this show,” says Pierce. “Everyone produced work which is really interesting and really wild.”
"Bling It Out 3" runs Dec. 10 from 6 – 9 p.m. at Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond, 1407 Sherwood Ave., and online December 10-17 at instagram.com/iridiangallery.