FARGO — Last August, downtown restaurant Vinyl Taco hosted a silent auction featuring artwork made from vinyl records to support the local arts community. This year, the local business is taking the silent auction up a notch with art made from electric guitars.

Ten decorated electric guitars made by regional artists are currently hanging above the bar in the restaurant, 520 First Ave. N., during regular hours throughout the month of August, with a closing bid party until 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Owner Warren Ackley says he wanted to amp up the auction this year with art that “was a little more interactive,” adding that all the guitars up for bid are still playable.

“The art last year on the vinyl records was beautiful, but you can’t play that music anymore,” Ackley says. “I wanted two things this time: to be able to play (the art) and look at it.”

All guitars in the auction are still playable, like the piece pictured here by Fargo artist Elizabeth Schwankl. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership
All guitars in the auction are still playable, like the piece pictured here by Fargo artist Elizabeth Schwankl. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership

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The minimum bid for each guitar, which comes with a small amp, is $150. Proceeds from the auction will be split between the artist and The Arts Partnership’s Individual Artist Grant Program. As an added bonus, Ackley says the artist whose guitar receives the highest bid will get to decorate a 6-foot-tall guitar sculpture that will be permanently displayed at the restaurant.

Because of the limited number of guitars, Vinyl Taco issued a request for proposals through The Arts Partnership in June. Vinyl Taco selected 10 artists based on their ideas, which incorporated a variety of media like acrylic paint, mosaic and textiles.

Featured artists this year include Ben Baukol, James Bergman, Sarah Kalmbach, Elizabeth Moore, Rhea Northington, Punchgut, Elizabeth Schwankl, Lauren Starling, Erika Stenvik and Cynthia McGuire Thiel.

Local textile artist Cynthia McGuire Thiel made her piece hanging in the northeast corner of Fargo's Vinyl Taco restaurant from upcycled fabric. Bids for all guitars start at $150. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership
Local textile artist Cynthia McGuire Thiel made her piece hanging in the northeast corner of Fargo's Vinyl Taco restaurant from upcycled fabric. Bids for all guitars start at $150. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership

Local textile artist Cynthia McGuire Thiel participated in the vinyl record art auction last year and applied for the opportunity to continue to challenge herself creatively.

“I’m a fairly type A, linear thinker,” says Thiel, who specializes in creating custom clothes from scratch. “These kinds of challenges are the ones that give me a reason to stretch my creativity and use the skills I possess in creative ways.”

Thiel created her guitar art with upcycled fabric stitched together from a dress and two silk scarves. She researched photos of Jimi Hendrix, Slash and other iconic musicians to make her rock ‘n’ roll vision come to life.

“I wanted to clothe the guitar in a sense that it would also be removable like true clothing,” she says. “I went into this (project) assuming that dressing an inanimate object would be completely different than a human body, but that really wasn’t the case. That’s a realization I wouldn’t have come across in my usual sewing realm.”

Local artist Elizabeth Moore channeled inspiration from the 1980s "vaporwave" aesthetic to create her black and neon-pink guitar that glows under black light. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership
Local artist Elizabeth Moore channeled inspiration from the 1980s "vaporwave" aesthetic to create her black and neon-pink guitar that glows under black light. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership

Mixed media artist Elizabeth Moore — another repeat artist from last year — channeled the 1980s “vaporwave” aesthetic to create a black and neon-pink guitar that glows under black light. Like Thiel, Moore applied to participate in the project for the unique artistic opportunity.

“I was lucky that I had a boyfriend who knows how to solder wires together and string up a guitar, otherwise I don’t know how far I could’ve gone with this project,” Moore says.

Elizabeth Moore’s piece glows under black light. Elizabeth Moore / Special to The Forum
Elizabeth Moore’s piece glows under black light. Elizabeth Moore / Special to The Forum

Although the artistic creation was challenging and she “spent many nights” working on the guitar, she's grateful for what she learned in the process.

“As an artist, you should constantly be evolving and learning,” she adds. “You don’t know your true artistic powers until you jump into a project that is unknown to you.”

Elizabeth Moore’s piece glows under black light. Elizabeth Moore / Special to The Forum
Elizabeth Moore’s piece glows under black light. Elizabeth Moore / Special to The Forum

Ackley looks forward to this year’s auction and is already brainstorming unique music-related canvases for next year to continue to support the arts.

“The arts really do mean business,” Ackley says. “When people go out to an art event, whether it’s a live concert or theater performance, they like to make it a complete evening out, and that includes business at our restaurant. We also have a lot of art on display at Vinyl Taco, so it seems like a nice fit.”

This guitar art by Fargo artist Punchgut is one of the items available in Vinyl Taco's silent auction. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership
This guitar art by Fargo artist Punchgut is one of the items available in Vinyl Taco's silent auction. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership

If you go

What: Vinyl Taco Guitar Art Silent Auction

When: Regular hours throughout August, with a closing party Tuesday, Aug. 27

Where: Vinyl Taco, 520 First Ave. N., Fargo

Info: www.vinyltacofargo.com or www.facebook.com/vinyltacofargo

Proceeds from the auction will be split between the artist and The Arts Partnership’s Individual Artist Grant Program. This entry is by Rhea Northington from Alexandria, Minn. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership
Proceeds from the auction will be split between the artist and The Arts Partnership’s Individual Artist Grant Program. This entry is by Rhea Northington from Alexandria, Minn. Chelsey Ewen / The Arts Partnership

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.