Year by year, the Zootown Arts Community Center's Mini Benefit fundraiser is getting bigger.
For its fourth year, the nonprofit is moving to the Wilma Theatre, and features almost 70 artworks in its live and silent auctions.
Most are "mini," meaning they measure about 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches or smaller. There are a few "mega" pieces, which are standard-sized artworks contributed by Tyler Nansen, Jennifer Bardsley, Beth Huhtala and Tim Thornton.
Executive director Kia Liszak said the auction raised between $22,000 and $23,000 last year. The money goes toward their year-round programming, which has expanded in the past year.
In all, Liszak said some 700 to 800 people come through their Northside headquarters each month.
Those include after-school art classes for children, teenagers and adults.
They recently completed the renovations of their basement, which will be home to children's rock music camps every single week this summer.
The nonprofit also houses a large gallery that features local emerging artists and regular group shows.
For the annual Missoula Monster Project, in which children and adults team up to produce drawings of a monster, some 1,000 people visited the gallery.
"The ZACC has really been born out of this community's unique desires. This is not a nonprofit that every town is going to have," Liszak said.
The silent auction bidding begins Friday at the exhibition's opening.
The pieces were whittled down to about 70 from more than 100 submissions. They span the age range, from University of Montana graduate students to well-established artists like Stephanie Frostad, Monte Dolack and Leslie Van Stavern Millar.
"It gives you a different glimpse of part of these artists," Liszak said.
Painter M. Scott Miller, well known for his large-scale Missoula nightscape paintings, made a small-scale version that's heavy on blues.
Wes Delano also mini-fied his patterned, geometric abstractions, which were on view in November at the Brink Gallery.
Candice Haster made a row of little porcelain water towers on wire supports set atop a piece of wood.
"It's fun to see someone who embraces the tininess," Liszak said.
Ben Simon, an experimental luthier, created a playable one-string sculpture/instrument he titled "The String is Water."
Madeline Mikolon's "Shifting Landscape" is a colorful abstracted cartography rendered with careful line-work and extreme use of white space.
In keeping with the "Mini" theme, bidding for large number of pieces starts under $100. The "mega" items were added to elicit some higher bidding.
Meanwhile, there are 15 pieces total in the live auction, set for Saturday, March 26.
The most frenzied bidding will likely occur over a non-art item. There's a "golden ticket" that gives the highest bidder all-access to concerts at the Top Hat and the Wilma for a year, donated by owners Nick and Robin Checota.
Guitar-maker Sean Kochel of Kochel Guitars has donated a new ax made especially for the auction. One-hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the ZACC's music program.
They try to keep the auction atmosphere lively, with different dress themes and performances by the kids rock groups.
It has a 1920s-speakeasy dress theme to match the Wilma's history, and the emcee is Rebecca Schaffer of Whitefish Theatre Company and Viscosity Theatre Company.
As in years past, some head chefs from local restaurants are competing in a culinary competition to win best dessert. They include kitchen artistes from Bernice's Bakery, Masala Restaurant, Sweet Peaks, the Silk Road and more.
Those dishes will be available for bidding from auction guests. And like most of the art, they're "mini" desserts.