The auction started at 7:00, and by 7:30 some things were already gone, their “buy now” price paid: a signed Glen E. Friedman print, an entry for the upcoming 30th edition of the Mt Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, autographed Jamie Lynn art. Already the airplane hangar-like space at Nemo Design in Portland was packed, and the area around the open bar was overflowing. Hundreds of people had come to browse the collection—vintage and new snowboards, prints and paintings by people like Bryan Iguchi, Trevor Graves, Bryce Kanights, Adam Moran, even Craig Stecyk, a bicycle built by Matt Donahue, raffle tickets to win a Harley—but the real point in attending was to support Chris Brunkhart in his fight with cancer. A selection of Chris’s iconic black-and-white photos dotted each of the long, parallel exhibition walls, and his influence was obvious in the work of other, more recent photogs. Friday night was testimony to Brunkhart’s significance in snowboarding.
By 8:30, bid sheets were filling with names and prices. Everything up for sale had been donated, and all proceeds would go to Chris, to make his life a little more comfortable and help pay for treatment. As the donated kegs poured the bids escalated, and a few rivalries formed for certain pieces. DJ Pink Leo played cuts by DJ Shadow while old pals bumped into each other, stoked, in the long hall. The benefit was likewise a reunion, a gathering of the old school Northwest snowboard scene—again, all for Chris, who by now was himself walking the crowded hall, digging the art, saying hi, all smiles.
As ten o’clock drew near, the bidding deadline pushed prices further. The party was in full effect, too, as beer spilled on the floor and puffs floated into the lights. Then DJ Pink Leo, aka Matt Donahue, cut the music to address the crowd, thanking our tight-knit snowboard community for backing Brunkhart with such generosity and love. Chris spoke later, appreciative and excited. A couple of groms gazed at him like they would at Travis Rice or Shaun White. Then Chris said goodnight, raised his hand, and before the crowd could applaud and whistle, Chris shouted “Fuck cancer!” and the roaring response echoed off the wallfuls of snowboarding history and art. Few people in snowboarding could call so many people friends or receive such respect as an artist.
By 11:00, the bidding was done and the money blew in like blizzard snow. Little by little the lucky ones paid and the walls emptied. People walked around now with their new acquisition while they chatted with friends and finished beers or wine. The buyers’ intentions were repeatedly overheard: “I really wanted this, but in the end I’m doing it for Chris.” It was a perfect excuse to spend money on timeless works of art. The party dispersed to various bars and unforgettable good times etched themselves into memory. Good things happen when you help Brunkhart.
#psfuckcancer raised $51,240 for Chris that at night. Southern California will have its chance at an auction on Thursday 11/20, at the Boathouse Collective in Costa Mesa.
Anyone can donate any amount online at www.gofundme.com/chrisbrunkhart.