At 9 p.m. tonight, the Coalition on Homelessness’s 20th annual art walk and virtual art auction will take its final bid. 

While this year’s fundraiser for the city’s unhoused population did not look like the big, in-person galas of years past, the distanced art walk and online art auction was still upbeat as people took part in socially distant walking tours around the Mission and placed bids online for locally made artwork.  

Art Auction 2020 map courtesy of Crystal Vielula.

Paintings on canvas and wood, soft pastel and pencil work, charcoal, and much in between were hung all around the Mission in storefronts, galleries and community spaces this week, including The Women’s Building, Community Thrift and Muddy Waters Cafe. 

Photo by Tess Seufferlein.

“This year’s online auction has been okay,” said Tess Seufferlein, the art coordinator for the Coalition on Homelessness. “With auctions, there’s ebbs and flows. At the beginning there was a lot of bidding, in the middle it slowed down, and in the last 24 hours it picked up again. We’ve had some fun bidding wars.” 

The challenge has been “trying to get people out there to see the artwork in person,” Seufferlein said. And that’s a shame, she said, because such high-caliber artists participated this year — artists like Ariel Gold, a painter whose work is in the de Young Museum, and Emily Fromm, who just finished a piece at the San Francisco International Airport.

“The housing crisis in San Francisco is devastating, and this year the need is especially big,” Fromm said. 

Seufferlein, a painter who founded the Borderline Art Collective, added that she “loves to get art out into San Francisco and get the artists seen, shown, and sold for a great cause.” 

A colorful artwork entitled Active Hiding Place, by artist Woody Othelo, shows a figure clutching a plant while kneeling before a chair. It had a bid of $3,600 at the time this story was published. Other artworks are in the $200 to $300 range.

Olivia Glowacki, the director of development at Coalition on Homelessness, explained that the “annual art auction is a way to sustain funding.” Although the coalition could not have the usual in-person party and auction at SOMArts, 70 pieces hung in nine Mission District art spaces, like Red Poppy Art House and Artists Television Access, with 127 pieces for sale online. Last year, 260 pieces were auctioned at the in-person event, which raised some $50,000. 

One of the core values of the coalition, Glowacki explained, is that it doesn’t rely on government funding to stay true to its mission of helping the city’s unhoused population. 

Also included in the auction and art walk this year are artists such as Mark Harris, who just finished a mural for Paint the Void, a group of artists that paints boarded-up storefronts, and is also featured at the de Young Museum. 

“Homelessness is one of the most critical issues facing the city,” he said.   

Mark Harris painting for the auction

Return of the Spider Woman by Mark Harris.

“Despite our technological advancements, great societies are remembered for how they treat their people,” Harris added. “And we are not doing a great job with that.”

In addition to the professional artwork, there are five artworks created by unhoused people featured in the auction. There is a clay ‘Hobbit Type House Incense Burner’ created by Eunice Nelson and a monoprint and collage entitled ‘Hope Springs’ made by Anna Marie Morrow. Both of the women are part of the Community Arts Program at Hospitality House. 

Anna Marie Morrow piece for the auction

‘Hope Springs’ by unhoused artist Anna Marie Morrow.

By the middle of this week, this year’s auction had raised $35,000 — and there are still opportunities to bid on artwork online until 9 p.m. tonight. 

It is “important to support local artists, businesses and the community,” Seufferlein said. And she hopes this year’s art auction is doing just that.