George Wallace - The Art Gala Legacy
Every spring for the past nine years at Raleigh's North Ridge Country Club, event-founders George and Pat Wallace host the juried NRCC Art Gala. While the 70,000 square-foot clubhouse on nearly 400 exquisite acres of land is indeed prestigious, (being a private club), the Gala's mission from the start has been "to keep the event affordable for artists to enter and for members to attend, and to support the arts community by providing exposure and potential sales for the artists juried into the show." Taking place this year on March 3rd, the Art Gala closes for entry on January 21st. If you are a visual artist that creates art that can be hung upon a wall, and if you have 10 spare dollars, Enter Your Art Here!
Contests or events of such class as this North Ridge Gala are gems; while I only spoke with George on the telephone for 20 brief minutes, his enthusiasm for and dedication to the Art Gala at the North Ridge Country Club shined through with vibrancy.
1. What is the Art Gala? And what does it do?
George: The Art Gala is something we started in 2009. It is a juried art competition. In late September / early October we send out a call for entries to any artists we can find. And they give us a digital submission of their works. (Up to five. Ten dollars per piece.) Then we have a deadline like we have right now. So, January 21st I will close the acceptance of entries. All the submissions in our dropbox will go to our juror, the juror will pick the top twenty-five works out of all the submissions, and those will be entered into the Art Gala. Those twenty-five original works will come in on March 3rd and the juror will see them live for the first time in the ballroom. The artists can display and sell anything they make and it’s beautiful stuff. We sell tickets to our private guests. At six-o-clock the guests go in and vote for their favorites (for the people’s choice category), and then we make a presentation making the announcement of the winner. We’ll sell $35,000 to $40,000 worth of art. Then we get 15% of that from the artists.
Pat and George Wallace
Pat and George Wallace at the NRCC Art Gala
2. Is there anything new at this year’s Art Gala?
The format is the same. This is an annual event and will be our tenth year. This is the third year that we’ve added a formal dinner to the program.
3. How can artists get involved in the 2018 Art Gala?
They enter through the call to entry on the website or the email we sent out. They email a picture of their painting and then ten dollars and that deadline is January 21st. The artists get a free pass into the ballroom and they work their booth for the evening.
With the North Ridge Arts Society (that’s our little group), our goal was to have a social event and to acquire art for the clubhouse. And to bring art appreciation to the members and guests. From that we are always bringing art, artists, and things like that to the clubhouse for the members. The twenty-five artists who made it into the ballroom get an opportunity to display in Gallery Hall for a month. For twelve months after the Gala we pick artists out of that twenty-five and change Gallery Hall each month. We have been doing this for nine years. So, every month the members see a different artist. And it’s always for sale. Then we’ll have a Meet The Artist night and the artist will come in and work the hallway. And we have art classes. We have the wine and design type of classes, we have children’s art classes (some are at the pool house). In May we are going to start a photography competition of the NRCC campus for members and their guests. That will be new at the club this year.
4. Where do you see the future of the North Ridge Country Club going because of the Art Gala?
The permanent collection is going to continue to grow. And we are going to continue to expose artists to our members.
5. What type of art does North Ridge currently have in its collection? Both temporary and permanent?
The temporary collection sees a rotation of artists displaying their work on a monthly basis.
For the more permanent collection, the big thing is that it comes from the juried collection at the annual event. It has been going on for nine years and so that means nine winners - that’s a very diverse collection of original works. A couple of years we have purchased the second and third place too).
The juried permanent collection will continue to grow annually. Also, we’ve taken the extra funds and we commission works from those artists around the clubhouse. In nine years the artists have sold over $300,000 worth of artwork during these galas and through the Gallery Hall. And we have 23 juried placements that we’ve purchased, and we have sixteen commissioned pieces of art for a total of 39 pieces of original art that we’ve purchased at the cost of $63,000.
Meet Luis Ardila, the 2017 winner at the NRCC Art Gala
6. What is the Gallery Hall and how does it relate to the Art Gala?
Well the Gallery Hall is the hallway to the bluebird grill, our restaurant in the lounge that is a very active place in the club. There is hallway viewing of art and each month we are bringing new paintings there. The connectivity from Gallery Hall is that the only way an artist can display artworks in Gallery Hall is to be a juried artists in the annual gala.
7. What was your inspiration in starting an art collection at North Ridge? How long have you been doing this?
The idea came up in 2008, we had the first one in 2009. This is our tenth one this year. Originally what happened was, I was on the board and my charge was to do social events at NRCC for the members. And I was also president at the Rotary Club in downtown Raleigh at the time. So, I was doing social events like plays and hockey tickets, things like that. When it came to art, the goal was to have an art social. There was no collection at all to speak of at North Ridge. It quickly became the goal of, okay, how can we have a social event with art and purchase a piece of art and make it a repeatable event.
The challenge became, how do we fund the Art Gala so that we have enough money to buy a piece of art? The goal was always to bring art appreciation to North Ridge members and guests.
8. You mentioned earlier you were beginning to start art classes and camps for youths or aspiring artists. Will any of the juried artists be involved with these?
The only people we really want teaching on campus are juried artists that come through the Art Gala. That keeps the integrity of the Art Gala persistent. So if any of the artists that ever come through North Ridge ever want to come back and do a presentation, say, the Water Color Association wants to bring easels out to the golf course and make pictures all afternoon, they are always welcome to do that.
We’re doing our 50-year book and the artists can also be in that. This stuff has grown because of the art, the advertising and all that.
9. What does the 50-year book showcase? Does the gala have a section in there?
It’s a history of the club, a compilation of memories; it’s a coffee table book. And yes, it does
The book will be released the first quarter of this year. We’re trying to finish up adding pictures of our 50th-year New Year’s Eve party. Our grounds superintendent is retiring right now, Saturday (1/13), after 31 years and so we’re in the process of getting his pictures in the book.
10. Is there anything else you would like to add?
That’s the whole product and what I need is more guests to attend, and I need more artists to enter. I have plenty of space, plenty of inventory, plenty of walls, and plenty of desire to have an outstanding collection at the club.
Now the goal is to build just an extraordinary collection of art. And the beauty of it is the local artists in this time, it’s 2018, this is our time to build something. 50 years from now people will go to North Ridge Country Club and say “Oh my gosh this is an outstanding collection; how did it ever happen.”
Right now we are at 39 works of art. How can we get it to 100 works of art?
And really when I say local artists it’s open to everybody, globally, but the problem is that if someone got juried in and they live in Europe how do they attend? They can submit their entry but they’re probably not going to come all that way for a booth.
But the format will always be 25 artists, and the better the artists the better the sales, the better the attendance. The goal is to make it better, better, better.
Once again if you are a visual artist interested in the Art Gala and haven't done so already, register your work(s) Here. And if you are simply an arts enthusiast looking to expand upon your list of favorite artists, Luis Ardilla (last Gala's winner) and Emily Andress (NRCC's current artist of the month), both paint breathtaking expressionistic & often highly symbolic landscapes, portraits, abstractions, and sceneries that can be found at http://www.ardilaart.com/ and https://etandressfineart.com/.