This is the real deal, Brose said. But instead of entering the grand lobby of Christies in New York City, bidders will filter into the modest atrium of Main Streets Market Arcade Building to bid on some 81 photographs from a large cross-section of fine-art photography today. Brose said he hopes to break $100,000 with this auction, a gallery fundraiser used for exhibitions and its various youth education programs.

The auctioneer makes it worth the price of admission, Brose said. (And admission is steep, at $50 per person.) Not only is he a professional, but he just has the right edge to him, hes just snarky enough. Its just fun to watch him work the crowd.

But auctioneer star power isnt the only draw. This year, the auction features a number of rare, important (not to mention pricey) works, most prominent of which is a small male nude by Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer famous for his black-and-white portraits of Patti Smith and Andy Warhol, and his controversial and sexually charged body of work.

This year, Im not sure whats going on, but we have landed some magnificent pieces, Brose said.

Many familiar artists from CEPA auctions past are back in their comfortable positions on the gallery walls this year. Milton Rogovin has supplied a stunning black-and-white photograph from his Early Mexico Series, priced to move at $6,000 to $9,000. Cindy Sherman, whose rapid ascent in the art world started with a show at CEPA, donated a typically quirky 1987 self-portrait in which she appears outfitted in mud-spattered yellow overalls, gripping a snake. Brose himself

has put up a print from his film De Profundis.

Three pieces from photographer Ken Heyman factor into the show, adding a bit of visual anthropology into the purely fine-arts mix. They emerged from the photographers work with famed anthropologist Margaret Mead and donated to the show in the wake of Heymans CEPA exhibition last summer. Along the lines of Heymans social documentary work are two stark pieces in the auction from photographer Brendan Bannons work in Kenya, each digital prints.

Theres also a print of a work called Ask the Goddess from an edition of two by Carolee Schneemann, who had a major retrospective at the gallery last spring. The list goes on to include several local photographers and more than a few whove had shows at CEPA through the years. The quality of the works and the range of photographers represented, said Brose, highlights the strong relationships the gallery has been able to foster in diverse segments of the worlds art and photography communities.

And unlike the auction rooms of New York City, London and Hong Kong, what sets CEPAs auction apart are that prices surprisingly enough can sometimes be affordable.

Things dont go for millions of dollars here. A lot of times you can also get deals. It really depends on whos in the room, Brose said. But if you come, you should come with the desire to bid. Even if you cant afford it, they make credit for reasons like that.

cdabkowski@buffnews.com