MarinMOCA’s ArtFWD Marks a New Approach to Contemporary Art

If there was an informal theme to this year’s Marin Museum of Contemporary Art (MarinMOCA)’s upcoming art auction beneift, it would be “accessible art.” 

Under the leadership of Amy Owen, the museum’s executive director who took the helm in April 2021, MarinMOCA is entering a new era that strives to place art and artists at the fore — whether it’s showing art, auctioning art, creating art or educating the public about the power of art. 

Viola Frey, Untitled (Copper Luster Tray with Black and Orange Figure), 1969. Ceramic, glazes, and copper luster
8 x 8 1/8 x 1 1/2 inches, Courtesy of Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Oakland. Photo: 2022 © Artists’ Legacy Foundation, Oakland / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

ArtFWD is the formal name of this year’s benefit art auction, officially kicking off on September 10. There’s an opening night bash and a full weekend of open studios with its many in-residence artists on its historic Novato campus at Hamilton Field. All opening weekend events are free to the public. 

The auction collection of more than 40 artworks from Bay Area artists will be shown in the museum’s galleries as well available online for bidding; about one-third of the participating artists in this year’s event are living and working in Marin. 

Chester Arnold, Lower Depths, 2022. Oil on linen panel I 9 x 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco

Expect to see a few legendary Northern California artists tossed into the mix: ceramic artists Viola Fry and Maija Peeples-Bright; collagist Jean Conner; and painter Chester Arnold. And, according to Owen, there will be a well-thought-out representation of less familiar artists for the community to discover, and pieces for the novice collector that are more affordable for those with a modest budget. 

“A lot of people think of collecting art as something only for the very wealthy, but the truth is that original art can be accessible—and we’ve curated ArtFWD with that in mind,” said Owen. “If you’ve never considered purchasing art before, come take a look, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” 

Teresa Baker, Long Prairie, 2022. Willow, parfleche, artificial sinew, and yarn on astroturf 19 x 18 inches. Courtesy of the artist and de boer gallery

MarinMOCA is also including a new fundraising element in the auction: a set of curated experience packages, including a private tour and dinner at the David Ireland House in San Francisco, a Mendocino getaway package and a panoramic bay cruise, plus more surprises. 

Marin MOCA
Maija Peeples-Bright, Peacock Peak, 2017. Glazed ceramic with acrylic and wood, 9 x 4 ½ x 6 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery, Los Angeles

The auction period concludes with a ticketed party at the museum the evening of October 15 consisting of a live auction, performances, locally sourced fare, specialty drinks and a fund-a-need drive.   

All proceeds from ArtFWD benefit the MarinMOCA’s exhibition and education programs, including public programs, art classes for adults and children, free family days and other arts education initiatives in the community.