ATTLEBORO - The Attleboro Arts Museum rapidly approached standing-room only during Saturday night's 21st Benefit Art Auction, where 172 works of art were sold in a live and silent auction to a crowd of more than 250 people.

The event was expected to raise $50,000, which will benefit various programs at the museum, such as art classes and exhibitions.

The main sponsors of the museum's largest annual fundraiser included City Spirits, Sensata Technologies, Fine Catering by Russell Morin, Rockland Trust and The Sun Chronicle.

The auction was conducted by Stuart Slavid, vice president of Skinner Auction House, which is based in Boston.

Museum Executive Director Mim Fawcett highly anticipated the evening's event, noting the excitement and positive energy flowing from the artists and prospective buyers.

"I love seeing everyone here, and I love how they take the auction seriously," Fawcett said. "When I see people seriously looking at artwork and taking notes, it means they're very intent on buying or referring someone else to a piece (of art)."

Well before the auction began at 7 p.m., patrons were elbow to elbow within the gallery, admiring the varied artwork, which ranged from oil on canvas to sculpture and mixed media.

With his rapid-fire, yet discernible delivery, Slavin's quick wit and humor kept the atmosphere lively during the bidding.

"It's actually more exciting for me than it is for you," Slavin said.

"I love seeing the looks on people's faces when you want to bid more, when you don't want to bid more, and when you're trying to keep your partner from bidding more," he said.

But the artists and patrons alike were equally caught up in the excitement of amicable competition to bring home a special piece of artwork.

David Lee Black, an artist based in Wrentham, has donated his artwork to the museum auction twice before, and he was anticipating the "thrilling" experience.

Black's photo, titled "Lil Red Barn," featured a small red barn against a majestic background of the mountains in Vermont.

"I never know where (my artwork) is going to end up, whether on a living room wall or in a restaurant," he said.

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