Painted frog bids likely to jump

October 23, 2003 11:00 pm

By LORENA ANDERSON

The Painted Frogs of Calaveras will hop onto the auction block tomorrow night for a Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce fund-raiser gala expected to net thousands for area charities.

Various Calaveras County businesses and people have sponsored the frogs, which area artists have decorated in a variety of styles — from a streetwalker frog with crimson lips and a lumberjack frog to a disco frog covered with hundreds of tiny mirrored squares.

The frogs, unveiled one at a time, have been on display at businesses around the county for several months.

Tomorrow night, the 26 frogs will line Mark Twain Hall at Frogtown — of course — so bidders can take a look at what they will pay for.

Each person or business sponsoring a frog agreed to donate the auction proceeds to a chosen charity, such as Habitat for Humanity, Mark Twain-St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation, the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum and Bret Harte-Angels Inc.

Sponsors paid $2,000 to have their frogs painted and displayed at their sites — $1,500 went to the chamber and $500 went to the artist. Each sponsor chooses a charity to receive all money earned from the auction of their frog.

Tickets for the auction — the starting bid for each frog is $1,000 — are $50 each and include dinner.

The chamber has sold nearly 500 tickets for the Mardi Gras-themed event, which starts at 6 p.m. with the frog preview. The dinner and auction follow.

"It's kind of a way to celebrate the county's most famous citizen — the frog," Chamber of Commerce Director Diane Gray said.

The chamber and the Calaveras Arts Council developed the frog project to highlight Mother Lode artists and raise funds for charities. Each of the fiberglass frogs is about 4 feet tall.

"They became popular little icons in the community," Gray said.