MACLA’s 15th Annual Latino Art Auction arrives May 18, providing the opportunity for attendees to expand their Latino art collection with friendly bidding wars in a festive setting.

Anjee Helstrup-Alvarez, executive director of the MACLA, says the auction is important to Latino artists because it encourages people to collect their artwork.

“We all know that artists work in their studios and create artwork,” Helstrup-Alvarez says. “But there’s also kind of that commercial aspect in which you need people to invest in them and collect their work and support what they’re doing. Like all of us, they need their bills paid too.”

Not only is this auction important to the Latino artist community, it is also MACLA’s signature fundraising event.

“A lot of the commercial galleries in contemporary art don’t necessarily focus on Latino artists and other artists of color,” Helstrup-Alvarez says. “MACLA really has a leadership role in that capacity.”

All of the proceeds from the auction go to support MACLA’s programs, including the visual arts gallery, performing arts programs and the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy.

Last year MACLA raised almost $50,000 at the event through auction sales, sponsorships and ticket sales. This year, the auction starts at 6pm with h’ordeuvres and an opportunity for guests to mingle. Eugene Rodriguez, a local artist and De Anza professor, will speak on “Collecting Art 101” followed by the auction at 7:30pm with a professional auctioneer.

Youth involved in the programs will also speak about their experiences with MACLA programs.

“It’s that first person perspective that is really important for us,” Helstrup-Alvarez says. “It’s so much more powerful when a youth actually shares what it means to them to go to Brave New Voices Poetry competition and talk about what it means to come here on a weekly basis and take a poetry class to learn and have supportive environment.”

About 60 artists contribute to the auction including local and international artists.

“It’s really great because it’s a range of artists who are recent San Jose State University graduates to artists that have an international reputation,”  Helstrup-Alvarez says. “It’s a wide range.”

Some of the artists include Samuel Rodriguez, Tessie Barrera-Scharaga, Jorge Gonzalez, Yvonne Escalante and Gronk. An exhibition of the art to be auctioned is currently on display at MACLA.

Helstrup-Alvarez says MACLA introduced the fundraiser 15 years ago because they wanted a unique fundraising that was special to them.

“It’s a lot of fun, people get into bidding wars,” she says. “I think that’s the most exciting part when there’s like four people that really want a piece. It’s fun because they say ‘there’s no friends in auction’ because your friends could be bidding against you and if they really want it then they will continue bidding.”