Guests socialize and browse the art at Rape Recovery Center's event.

"Tonight we celebrate all who believe in our mission of hope. Tonight we honor all survivors of sexual violence." —Rape Recovery Center Executive Director, Holly Mullen.

Utah's Rape Recovery Center held its annual auction and gala, An Evening of Inspiration, Healing and Hope, at the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory on Friday, April 26. Guests crowded in to sample the food and cocktails, including the evening's signature "Inspiration Libation," and bid on silent auction items from local businesses, along with artwork by local artists.

The evening ended with X96 radio host Gina Barberi leading a live auction, featuring items like a private dinner for eight by Adam Kreisel of Chaia Cucina and the event's featured art by Ashley Bennett Stoddard.


Gina Barberi (middle) hosts the live auction.

The first-ever Pillar of Hope Award was given to State Representative Jennifer Seelig for her work on a bill allowing those trying to escape violent dating relationships to get protective orders. "It's ridiculous this took 10 years," says Seelig, encouraging others to speak out on behalf of sexual violence victims.

Melinda Smith, who works as a Hospital Response Team and Rape Recovery Crisis Line volunteer was given the Volunteer of the Year Award. Before she joined the nonprofit, Smith provided children in crisis shelter in her home and she shows victims of sexual violence the same amount of compassion.

Silent auction items included items like lift tickets to Deer Valley and tickets to Pioneer Theatre's "Much Ado About Nothing," but it was the artwork that really caught everyone's attention.

Mullen wrote a 2005 article on Florence Ware, one of the artists, for The Salt Lake Tribune, telling the story or how one family discovered her artwork. After Ware died in 1971 at age 80, Kisi Clawson Watkins' family moved into the artists' former home at U Street and First Avenue. Buying it as is, they also inherited much of Ware's artwork. The family donated documents and photos they found to the state historical society. Other items were appraised and sold, and the family kept a handful of pieces.

 
Ware's artwork for auction at the event was this portrait, "From India."  

 
Carter Johnson's artwork of DC and Marvel superheroes.

 
Aaron Fritz's "Having Perhaps the Better Claim"

 
Lee Madrid's "Harvey Milk"

All money raised from the auctions will go toward helping victims of sexual violence. The center's 24-hour crisis line for victims is 801-467-7273.