BY LENNIE BENNETT
Times Art Critic
You may want to go early to Graphicstudio's 13th annual Benefit Sale on Friday if you want to see all the offerings. The event has taken on such national and international proportions, more and more potential buyers line up or keep the phones busy buying prints and sculptures at discounted prices from Graphicstudio's impressive inventory.
If you haven't heard of Graphicstudio, it's because it keeps a low profile. Based at the University of South Florida, it's a not-for-profit atelier (meaning a collaborative studio with artists and artisans working together) founded in 1968. Over the years the biggest names in the contemporary art world have made small editions of prints and sculptures there. Graphicstudio's creative and technical excellence and its groundbreaking innovation have attracted collectors, too, who buy a subscription each year, which gives them the option to buy the several editions produced. Besides individual collectors, one of each edition always goes to the National Gallery of Art. (You're probably out of luck if you want to get a subscription for next year; they sold out months ago, and there's a waiting list. It doesn't hurt to ask, though!)
So this once-a-year-only sale is a boon to those without the deepest of pockets but with a desire to own first-rate art at 10 to 60 percent discounts.
Here are some of the names: William Wegman, James Rosenquist, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Robert Rauschenberg, Vik Muniz, Leslie Dill, Ed Ruscha and Los Carpinteros. Many works are the last available in Graphicstudio's inventory.
Here's how the sale works. It begins at 10 a.m. and continues to 9 p.m. Everything is 10 to 60 percent off the original price, but no prices will be available until the sale begins. This isn't an auction; if you want a work, you buy it then and there. All major credit cards are accepted. You can make a purchase by telephone.
A free reception is from 6 to 9 p.m. with a drawing for a Richard Tuttle photogravure. No purchase is necessary to enter.
Be aware that "bargain" is a relative word here. All the works are very fine art and priced accordingly; expect ranges in four figures. Sales benefit Graphicstudio's research and educational programming.
Graphicstudio is on the USF campus at 3702 Spectrum Blvd., Suite 100, Tampa. Call (813) 974-3503 or visit graphicstudio.usf.edu.