Some tiny ceramics and prints, a number of big paintings and a golden ticket will help raise money for the city's community art center this month.

The Mini Benefit Show raises a "critical" amount of funding each year for the nonprofit Zootown Arts Community Center, according to executive director Kia Liszak.

The nonprofit started the show in 2013 with the idea of selling lots of works that are very small — the largest being a foot by foot square.

After a few years, the auction outgrew the ZACC's basement and now is held at the Wilma. The names of artists involved include many familiar to Missoula art fans.

R. David Wilson, a regular feature at the Dana Gallery, donated a new variation on his signature expressionist landscapes. Wilson transferred his purple-tinted palette and sense of line to a fabric piece.

Printmaker Bev Beck Glueckert created a dream-like, textured seascape called "Eclipse with Boat"

Mitchell McCabe, a quadriplegic Missoula artist who draws with his mouth, contributed a patterned drawing of a powwow dancer. Prolific local illustrators/artists Theo Ellsworth and Courtney Blazon contributed new, small, pieces.

Some artists are selling "mega" pieces: a serenely colored animal painting by GiGi Don Diego; a portrait by Tim Thornton, a rendering of Frida Kahlo by Scot Herries; and a large abstract landscape by Jen Bardsley.

Many of the pieces are in the $100 range, extending up to $2,500.

There are some non-art items that likely will drive up some bids. Logjam has donated a "golden ticket" to any show, including sold-out ones, at the Wilma, Top Hat and the KettleHouse Amphitheater for a year. Bidding will start at $2,000. The estimated value is $5,000. There's a private wine cellar dinner for eight at Plonk ($1,200) and a Hip Strip shopping spree ($2,500 value).

Every year, the ZACC auctions off desserts. The restaurants this year are Bernice's Bakery, Ciao Mambo, Crave, Drum Coffee, Finn and Porter, The Iron Griz, UM Catering, Posh Chocolat, Tandem Doughnuts, and Sweet Peaks.

Expect interstellar costumes due to the "outer space" theme. The ZACC's website "invite(s) all astronauts, space travelers, and any alien life forms."

The exhibition opens Friday, Feb. 9, and bidding can begin on silent auction items. The auction typically draws just over 200 people and sells out. If anyone can't get a seat and would like to come bid on items, they can contact the ZACC. You also can sign up for a proxy to bid in your place on auction night.


Last year, the benefit raised just over $40,000 for the arts center, which opened its doors in fall 2008.

The proceeds help fund after-school art classes for kids, music camps where boys and girls can learn to write and perform songs, from rock to hip-hop; and a smattering of adult art classes. It has space for do-it-yourself studios for making prints, painting pottery, hand-building clay and a glass-fusing studio.

In its basement, it has a renovated space for those kids camps. It hosts the Hero Sound Project, where veterans can gather to play music together; and the space is open to rent for all-ages shows from local and touring bands, one of the few venues for underground music acts to play.


Upstairs, the ZACC has a large gallery where it shows monthly art exhibitions and "Second Friday" openings, plus studio spaces available for rental for artists.

Liszak said the auction proceeds help keep these low-cost or free, and pay for $20,000 per year in scholarships for both children and adults.