By Kristin Arzt

On Saturday, April 6, The Crucible opened its doors for a night of fire, feasting, and fundraising for our special 20th Anniversary Fire & Light Soirée and Art Auction! Soirée guests contributed over $240,000 in support of The Crucible’s industrial arts programming. “At a time when Oakland is going through so much change, the creativity and stability of The Crucible community is something we want to celebrate and protect,” Executive Director Susan Mernit shared. ”We are so appreciative of the energy, creativity, and joy you bring to your connection with us and we want to celebrate that tonight!”

Friends in the audience included 20th Anniversary corporate sponsors, Crucible board members, Crucible advisory council members, West Oakland neighborhood partners, and more! Large scale art literally brought the fire and light to our reception areas, with Christopher Schardt’s “Constellation,” a whimsical LED light installation adorning our ceiling, and Justin Gray’s “Cadillac Rocket Car Mark 3” greeting visitors and lighting up the night sky with fire outside. Our neighbors from Kinetic Arts Center and Prescott Circus Theatre activated our reception areas for our guests as they entered with aerial and circus arts.

An Inspiring Art Auction

During the art auction, run by the talented auctioneer Ed Gold, generous attendees bid on 17 pieces of art, donated by The Crucible’s community of master artists, makers, and fabricators. One particularly special piece was a forged iron fire pit, made in collaboration from our Blacksmithing Department from smelted iron and bridge steel from the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. “This piece is the community in manifest,” Chris Niemer, Blacksmithing Department Head, shared. Countless hours of breaking down charcoal, smelting sand, and forging iron went into fabricating this piece. Uniquely local and one-of-a-kind, the enduring impact of this piece represents our commitment to fire arts, the talents of our hardworking artistic community, and twenty years of making in the Bay Area.

Finishing off the 20th Anniversary Fire & Light Soirée’s auction was “Deer Head #3” by Rakau “Rocky” Boikanyo, age 16, and at a price point of $4,000, it was the most a youth piece has sold for at Soirée. Crucible Board President Warren Breslau presented Rocky, a Fuego Youth Leader, our Forging The Future Fellowship, a brand new Crucible welding jacket, and a $500 scholarship to be applied to furthering his education.”The youth program allowed me to go from a summer camp student to a sculptor,” Rocky shared with the crowd. After five years of making at The Crucible, Rocky is truly an accomplished welder and plans to study industrial design in college. 

A Performance to Remember

Jennifer Johns serenaded the audience with an original song in memory of Victor McElhaney (1998-2019), a son of West Oakland lost too soon. While Jennifer sang, Foundry Department Head Nick DiPhillipo and Denise Snaer-Gauder, adorned with a fiery headdress, performed a fantastic bronze pour into ice to finish off the evening. All evening, guests sipped delicious Manhattans crafted with bourbon provided by Wright & Brown Distilling Co., Rickeys mixed with gin from St. George’s Spirits, and wine donated by Kent Rasmussen Wines. More than 60 staffers, artists and volunteers worked to make this event a success and the best Soirée ever. Thank you to everyone who came out and helped support The Crucible’s mission. We couldn’t do it without you! Enjoy the look through our photo gallery from the evening below!

20th Anniversary Fire & Light Soirée Photo Gallery:

Please note: These images from The Crucible’s 20th Anniversary Fire & Light Soirée have been resized for web. If you would like a full size image, please contact us.

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