Artists in Western North Carolina made a significant leap forward this year in helping keep the profession vibrant.

This year’s QuickDraw event netted approximately $21,000 funds that will be used to provide badly needed supplies for art programs in the Haywood County Schools.

QuickDraw raises funds by hosting an auction of works of art that are created in one hour as the public watches.

In addition to the 22 artists who stepped up to the quick draw challenge, an additional 13 artists demonstrated their work during the silent auction portion of the event that were also sold Saturday.

“For the best possible reasons, artists step up and out to provide the visual wow factor, the educational how’d-they-do-that opportunity,” said Sandra Hayes, who helped organize this year’s QuickDraw. “The spectacle of watching them work, and the portion of the proceeds donate make QuickDraw work.”

Hayes said the funds are first used to pay for 100 percent of the art teacher requests for art supplies that will be needed for the coming school year. After that,  scholarships are provided for students who want to pursue their art education.

“Our committee painstakingly reviews the applicants for their goals, their talent, their dedication and grit as an indicator of their projected success in college,” Hayes said. “Then we look at their financial need and determine how to parcel it out. The number of scholarships and the amounts will vary upon applicants.”

This year, four students received a total of $6,000 in scholarships thanks to QuickDraw.

One of this year’s scholarship winners, Rosalyn White, attended the event and spoke of her struggle with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She hopes to find ways to help artists with similar challenges through her education.

Pamela Reece, who recently moved to the area, attended QuickDraw for the first time.

“I loved the event,” she said. “I can honestly think of no better way to marry the opportunity to buy from local artists while at the same time support art teachers and students.”

What else makes the program special is the opportunity to support local artists and get to know them better, she said.

Reese and her husband, Kevin, were active in the arts community in Alabama and helped organize a public art festival in Huntsville before retiring in Haywood.

At last week’s QuickDraw, the Reeces were able to purchase five of the live auction piece, including a painting by well-known Asheville artist Ann Valisik, and another silent auction piece.

“We were just thrilled with our pieces,” she said. “That the artists can produce such pieces in just an hour is a testimony to their skill and talent.”

The artwork sold at QuickDraw ranged from $200 to $4,000, with the highest-selling piece being a dragonfly garden sculpture donated by metal sculptor Grace Cathey.

Artists participating in the event donate half the sale proceeds back to QuickDraw, though Hayes said some artists are so excited with how the proceeds are used, they donate all the money for their sale.

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