(artist Hiromi Katayama)

This past Saturday, Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach contained more than 50 blank canvases and 50 artists. Over the next few hours, those white slates began to blossom with color. Faint preliminary sketches transformed into richly detailed paintings, all of which would be auctioned off by the night’s conclusion. The second annual fundraising event, aptly titled “50 Artists 50 Bucks,” progressed from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 7, marking another successful year for the art center.

Included with the $10 admission, guests received a complimentary drink to sip while browsing the frenetic collective workspace of the many busy creators. Among the participating artists were renowned political cartoonist David Willson, as well as talented instructors from Armory. Regardless of their levels of experience, however, all of the participants demonstrated extraordinary grace under pressure.

(artist David Willson)

Staying calm under public scrutiny, the artists created pieces of varying subject matter – from seascapes to Captain America – with a jumble of materials. Their respective work corners overlapped into a giant stockpile of referential artwork, easels, paint tubes, wet brushes and the occasional slice of pizza as fuel. To prep guests with energy for the auction, Miami’s Mangia Mia meatball truck arrived to serve up both Italian food and garlic-scented goodness.

Once the paintings had developed from bare bones into fully fleshed-out masterpieces, they were arranged onstage for a live auction. Guests equipped with numbered paddles commenced in bidding wars, slowly removing each piece from the wall. By the time the wall was emptied, nearly every painting created that evening had found a home. 

For those who missed this event but could still benefit from artistic inspiration, the Armory is hosting its fifth annual Halloween celebration, “Inferno,” from 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 24. Similar to “50 Artists 50 Bucks,” guests will receive complimentary beer and wine with the $10 admission fee. “Inferno” promises live music, performance art, demonstrations and more than 20 booths of art for sale. Costumes are encouraged – be there or be square.

The Armory Art Center is at 1700 Parker Ave., West Palm Beach. For information, call 561/832-1776 or visit armoryart.org.