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Santa Monica Art Auctions Painting the Town for 25 Years:

Want to pick up an Ed Ruscha, Wallace Berman, George Rickey or Raymond Pettibon? Head to Robert Berman Gallery at Bergamot Station on May 31, grab a paddle, and start bidding. Now in its 25th year, the Santa Monica Art Auctions is more vital than ever, offering solid investments for savvy collectors, and a mini-museum show for those in the mood to glimpse great art. It’s a come-one-come-all affair, as Berman welcomes window shoppers and serious bidders alike. “It’s a really fun day,” Berman said. “The auction is a great place for new collectors and very sophisticated collectors looking for museum-quality work. There are 400 lots and there truly is something for everyone. If you can’t find something you like, you’re just not looking hard enough.”Berman hosted his first auction in 1984 just for kicks. That inaugural event was held at a small local club and has grown into a larger-than-life serious slice of the Santa Monica art scene. “It’s really grown from this little intimate thing to a world-class, high-quality auction with consignments from all over,” Berman said. “I do specialize in top-of-the-line Santa Monica and Venice-based artists, as well as Chicano artists, but the stuff in the auction really has a huge range.” The auction is stocked with fine art selections, including pieces by Picasso, Matisse and Kandinsky, but Berman isn’t kidding when he says it’s an anything-goes event. Punk rock album cover artist Raymond Pettibon has some serious rarities up for grabs, and a huge piece by renowned Los Angeles graffiti artist, Chaz Bojorquez, is also fair game. “I’m telling you, when you look at this 1992 painting by Chaz, done right after the Los Angeles riots, you can feel Los Angeles on fire,” Berman said. When asked about the economic downturn and its potential impact on the auction, Berman said art is a solid investment that is a win-win. “This is the best time to buy art,” Berman said. “The market is a little bit deflated, but good art is holding up well.” The free price of admission is certainly right for these lean times. Don’t want to wait until May 31 to weigh your purchasing options? Not a problem. The work is on display now for your sneak peek pleasure. Visit the gallery in-person or on line to view auction items in advance, but save your competitive side for the main event, as bidding isn’t allowed until 1:00pm on auction day. There’s a preview party at the gallery on Saturday, May 30, from 6:00pm – 9:00pm, and if it’s anything like Berman’s recent party for “Rock, Paper, Scissors” it will be a sheer blast. “It’s just a great event,” Berman said. “Where else to I get to hang a Longo next to a Picasso?” For more information, visit www.smauctions.com.

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