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Legacy auction garners big donations for education

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SANDIA PUEBLO, N.M. - Heated bidding and a breathless crowd spurred by the antics of actor Lou Diamond Phillips and Jim Villanucci of radio station KKOB AM brought a whopping $25,000 single donation for J.D. Challenger's featured work, "Yellow Thunder," during the Legacy Art Albuquerque III fine art auction, May 17. A total of $150,000 was generated during the evening for education scholarships for youth.

"His work is incredible and it goes for the children," said Ron Lewers, who won "Yellow Thunder."

Lewers and his wife Karen attended the auction specifically to purchase the painting, adding to a collection of 11 pieces by the artist they already own. "It hurts your heart, it's so good. It brings tears to your eyes. He is a very special artist," continued Lewers.

"It's a wonderful thing and we're glad to participate in (the auction)," commented Karen Lewers.

Hosted by Sandia Casino in a private tent facing the dusky, watermelon-pink Sandia Mountains, guests sipped champagne and feasted on a buffet catered by Bien Shur restaurant, viewed museum-quality art and mingled with the artists prior to the main event.

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Once bidding started, bidders settled into lawn chairs to enjoy vying for items ranging from pottery to paintings and jewelry to a pine needle basket. Items available for both the live and the silent auction included pieces by artists such as Tony Abeyta, R.C. Gorman, Frank Howell, and Pablo Picasso.

Collaboration between artists Amado and J.B. Pena's Art Has Heart Foundation and the St. Pius X High School Foundation resulted in Legacy Art Albuquerque, whose purpose is to celebrate the arts while raising funds for education. Proceeds from this third annual auction are shared equally between both organizations, providing financial aid to college and high school students, with a special interest in Native American youth.

"Students are the great beneficiaries of this because all of the proceeds are split between both organizations, St. Pius X High School Foundation and Art Has Heart Foundation," said Robert Arguelles, chairman of Legacy Art Albuquerque III. Arguelles also sits on the foundation board of St. Pius X High School. He said expenses for the event are minimized and that although artists are given the option to have a percentage of the sales price returned to them they never request it.

"The artists have nothing to gain except that they are giving something back, they really give from the heart," he emphasized. He also feels the community has an opportunity to look at and obtain some tremendous art at this event.

Stuart Paisano, governor of Sandia Pueblo and a graduate of St. Pius X High School, said this was a wonderful opportunity to raise money for education.

"What it means to me and to the Pueblo of Sandia is that this is just another opportunity to give back to the community as well. We see education as a very important part of our next generation."