“Art to Collect Now,” an exhibition of 100 pieces of artwork contributed by artists invited to submit to the Center for Maine Contemporary Art’s 34th Benefit Art Auction, will open Saturday, July 16. The exhibition includes artwork by many of Maine’s most distinguished artists.

There will be a reception for participating artists, open to the public, from 5 to 7 p.m. at CMCA, 162 Russell Ave. Admission is free for members, with a $5 suggested donation for others.

The 2011 CMCA Benefit Art Auction will take place Sunday, July 31, at Point Lookout in Northport. The event is the summer’s foremost auction of current art in Maine. It is also CMCA’s largest fundraiser, providing significant support for the organization’s operations, exhibitions and programs. Artists choose to donate either a portion or all of the proceeds to CMCA.

The auction preview will begin at 4:30 p.m., followed by a catered dinner and the auction. Kaja Veilleux of Thomaston Place Auction Galleries will preside as auctioneer. Tickets to the auction and dinner are $125 and can be ordered by calling CMCA at 236-2875. Absentee bids are encouraged for those who cannot be present.

The “Art to Collect Now” exhibition and auction includes work in oil and acrylics by Janice Anthony, Gideon Bok, Mary Bourke, Katherine Bradford, Avy Claire, Jane Dahmen, Scott Davis, Nicole Duennebier, Ingrid Ellison, Alan Fishman, Linden Frederick, Philip Frey, Harold Garde, Nancy Glassman, Ken Greenleaf, Eric Hopkins, Jon Imber, William Irvine, Barbara Kassel, Richard Keen, Monica Kelly, T. Allen Lawson, Frederick Lynch, Ed Nadeau, Colin Page, Dennis Pinette, Robert Pollien, Holly Ready, Alison Rector, Michael Reece, Bjorn Runquist, Tollef Runquist, Abby Shahn, Lesia Sochor, Alexandra Tyng, Tim Van Campen, David Vickery, Sam Vokey, Mark Wethli, Susan Williams, Deborah Winship, Sharon Yates and Dudley Zopp; watercolor and gouache paintings by George Bayliss, Alan Clark, David Dewey, Kathleen Florance, Joseph Haroutunian, Jill Hoy, Frederic Kellogg, Honour Mack, Antonia Munroe, Justin Richel, Paul Rickert, Jessica Stammen and Susan Headley Van Campen; prints, drawings and other works on paper by Susan Amons, Will Barnet, Sam Cady, Chris Clarke, Lois Dodd, Lauren Fensterstock, Anna Hepler, Charlie Hewitt, Alison Hildreth, Robert Indiana, Dahlov Ipcar, Yvonne Jacquette, Celeste Roberge, Kate Russo, Carol Sloane, Andrea Sulzer, Don Voisine and John Wissemann; photography by Thomas Birtwistle, Marcie Jan Bronstein, John Paul Caponigro, Tillman Crane, Jed Devine, Dan Dowd, Jon Edwards, Patrisha McLean, Jenifer Mumford, Peter Ralston, Liv Kristin Robinson and Todd Watts; sculpture by J.T. Gibson, Harvey Peterson, and Barbara Sullivan; pottery by Simon van der Ven; and mixed media by Mary Barnes, John Bisbee, Jesse Gillespie, Stew Henderson, Jeff Kellar, Estelle Shevis, Ann Slocum, Joyce Tenneson, Shoshannah White and Henry Wolyniec.

CMCA is grateful to this year’s major sponsors, which include Nancy Hughes of Jaret & Cohn Real Estate, Machias Savings Bank and Maine and Maine Home + Design magazines.

CMCA hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 5 p.m.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.