Not only is the most important fundraiser of the year for The Art Base a silent auction, but “10X10 Name Unseen” — which opens today in the Charles J. Wyly Gallery — also asks patrons to exercise a leap of faith when it comes to choosing their favorite piece.

A brief explanation is in order: The names of the 129 artists participating in “10X10 Name Unseen” won’t be revealed until the bidding period closes at 2 p.m. on Aug. 16.

“‘The reveal’ is aligned with our mission of encouraging creativity without judgment,” said curator Lissa Ballinger.

Under that scenario, one surmises that the work truly speaks for itself.

Ballinger went on to suggest that by not disclosing in advance the names of the artists, patrons will be more focused on the “actual piece of artwork.”

Per usual, there’s quite an array from which to choose. Mixed media, collage, one ceramic piece and several three-dimensional pieces vie for one’s interest along with plenty of two-dimensional work. For more, take a look at theartbase.org.

All participating artists have some kind of connection to the 24-year-old nonprofit community arts center in old town Basalt.

“10X10 Name Unseen” features a mix of upcoming and well-established artists, though all were invited to participate.

This fundraiser, which in a “normal” year offers a live auction and a party that can accommodate up to 250 people, accounts for 21% of The Art Base’s $510,000 annual budget, according to Executive Director Skye Skinner.

On the eve of the decidedly nontraditional opening, Skinner emphasized how important is this fundraiser, especially during the COVID-19 era.

“Everything The Art Base does is about human contact and being in person,” she said, whether it’s art classes or exhibition openings.

At the onset of the pandemic, “Overnight, we lost all of our earned income,” Skinner said. “We had to think really hard and fast. We want to deliver the same quality and provide art to the same community we’ve served. We just have to do it differently.”

Beginning in mid-March, The Art Base put together “Art-to-Go” kits for community members to stir their creative juices. The center’s classes were eventually all moved online, as is this first exhibition held during the coronavirus era.

‘Pandemic proof’

“10X10 Name Unseen” goes live online today at noon, but it may also be enjoyed in person at the gallery for the next two-and-a-half weeks. Ten people maximum, including staff, are allowed in the building at one time.

“We require masks and will take temperatures at the door,” Skinner said. For the first time in the fundraiser’s nearly decade-long history, there won’t be a full-blown opening.

Gallery hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On weekends, the hours are 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., which serves the Basalt Sunday Market crowd.

“We’re also perfectly happy to be open by appointment,” Skinner said.

The directors of The Art Base joked that this exhibition “is pandemic proof.” Ballinger added, “It’s an unintimidating way to be part of Roaring Fork Valley’s arts scene.”

Sponsors are Slifer Smith & Frampton, Ann Korologos Gallery, Harry Teague Architects, Heirlooms, Raven Gallery, State Farm Insurance Andrea Gurgle, JD Black Construction and Decorative Materials, according to The Art Base.

Madeleine Osberger is interim editor of the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at madski@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @Madski99