Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year's Antiques Auction

An ideal museum show would be a mating of Brideshead Revisited with House & Garden. Provoking intense and pleasurable nostalgia for a past that none of its audience has had.
-Robert Hughes

Empire Dresser (19th century)

The New Year. A time to look forward, to reinvent, and rediscover who we really are. This time of year I often find myself thinking about New Year's past. What were people wearing? What kind of parties did they go to? What sort of furnishings surrounded them? In other words, as much as I like to look forward I also have a bit of nostalgia for a past I never knew. Merriam Webster's dictionary defines nostalgia as "wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition." When it is cold and dark and I find myself longing for a connection with days gone by, I can think of no better remedy than an auction. Below is one auction that looks like it will have a good selection of antique furniture and objects.

Meal Chest (this was a large chest for storing corn)

FRIDAY JANUARY 1ST 2010 @ 10:00 A.M

Less than three hours north of Louisville, one and half hours east of Indianapolis and just one hour northwest of Cincinnati. Click here for a map

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Although artist Moisio Walfred died in 2001, his work has stood the test of time. Known for photographing cultural events of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s this photograph is no exception. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been an American tradition for decades and this 1930s photgraph captures the spirit and emotions of this special day.
The photograph will be auctioned on December 3, 2009. Details below.

Moisio Walfred
View biography on artnet
Title: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Style: Contemporary (ca. 1945-present)
Medium: Photographs, Silver print
Year: ie. circa 1930
Size: height - 11 in, width - 14 in, depth - 0 in
Markings: stamped, on verso, 2005 #3 edition of 6. Image printed from original negative.
Estimate: from $900 to $1,200

Thursday, November 19, 2009


When you are operating a small art gallery or a small museum it is difficult to get the public's attention. Below are two worthy events taking place over the next two days in Louisville. Both events are free and open to the public.

THURSDAY, NOV. 19, 2009

Lincoln: Presidency in Pictures
Get a good look at these historic images and then prepare to bid. Starting on Dec. 6 a duplicate of one of the works from the exhibit will be auctioned off in a silent auction.

Opening Reception: Thursday, Nov. 20 5:30-7:30

Illustrations from Harper’s Weekly & Frank Leslie’s, 1860—1865
November 19, 2009 — February 28, 2010
at the Portland Museum Albert Comstock Gallery
2308 Portland Avenue
Louisville, KY 40212
(502) 776-7678

FRIDAY, NOV. 20, 2009


Waller is a local artist working in southern Indiana. While the official subject of many of the works are the leaves she depicts, the real subject matter is the way that light penetrates and changes the surface of every object it touches. Even the nudes appear to glow from within.

The opening will be Friday, November 20 from 6pm-8pm. If you work downtown stop by after work for free wine and cheese...who knows, you might just go home with something.

Gallery at the Brown

The Brown Hotel

335 West Broadway

Louisville, KY 40202

502-583-1234 x 7174


Sunday, November 15, 2009


Jean-Michel Basquiat Brother Sausage, 1983, estimated $9 mil-$12 mil, Unsold, Christie’s New York, Nov. 10, 2009


There has been some confusion about the art market. Is it up or is it down? The answer is it is up from a recent low point in the Fall of 2008 but it is still down from a high point in May of 2008. Overall, the market has been down since its highest point. However, the Fall of 2009 has brought some reason to celebrate.

September 15, 2008 was the day Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and the day the western markets began to plummet in earnest. That date is also a good marker for the day the art market began to change course. Although Christie's had a record sale of $362 million just four months before, the Fall of 2008 could only be described as dismal. Potential sellers that were able to hold onto their works did so.

Andy Warhol200 One Dollar Bills 1962, Estimate $8,000,000—$12,000,000,sold $43,762,500, Sotheby’s New YorkNov. 11, 2009

But if Fall 2008 made art lovers think the market was doomed, then the Fall of 2009 should give them hope. On November 11, 2009 Sotheby's sold 52 of 54 lots which brought in $134,438,000 plus premium. The most exciting lot of the evening was Andy Warhol's 200 One Dollar Bills from 1962. That lot opened at $6 million and then jumped by $1 million bids until the hammer came down at $39 million ($43,762,500 with premium). Although pre-sale skeptics predicted the Warhol lot would 'make the sale' it was, in fact, not the only exciting lot. Alice Neel's work, Jackie Curtis and Rita Red helped set a new auction record high for the artist by selling for $1,650,500. Other new auction records set at that sale including Jean Dubuffet's Trinite-Champs-Elysees, 1961 ($6,130,500); Germaine Richier's , La Feuille bronze, 1948 ($842,500); and Juan Munoz's, Five Seated Figures, 1996 ($1,202,500).

This is not to say the the auction market has rebounded in full. While sales exceeding $134 million proves that the art market is moving up (Sotheby's May 2009 sale totaled just $125 million), it certainly does not come close to the high point in the market and estimates are still conservative. It is also important to note that there have been some disappointments in recent days as well. Just two days before the Sotheby's sale was Christie's Contemporary Art Sale on November 10. Connecticut horse farmer Peter Brant's painting entitled Brother Sausage (estimated $9,000,000-$12,000,000) by Jean-Michel Basquiat and his prized Andy Warhol painting entitled Tunafish Disaster (estimated $6,000,000-$8,000,000) both went unsold. Many in the artworld felt that Brant's desired price was too high while said "Cynics may view the buy-ins differently, however, as a gambit to establish lower values for works that may become subject to a property settlement in a future divorce."


Infinity Nets, 1991Acrylic on canvas. 36 x 23 3/4 in. (91.4 x 60.3 cm). Signed and dated "Yayoi Kusama [in English and Japanese] 1991" on the reverse. This work is accompanied by the Yayoi Kusama Studio artwork registration card.
ESTIMATE $35,000-45,000, SOLD at Philips De Pury on November 12, 2009 for $842,500

Phillips de Pury & Company Art Evening sale on November 12 was also successful selling 31 of the 40 lots offered for a total $7,099,250, within its pre-sale estimate of $5.7–8.1 million. With only five lots exceeding the $500,000 mark and not a single lot reaching $1 million, the overall result was a welcome figure. Just a year before Phillips de Pury had an unsold rate of 46 percent by lot and 51 percent by value.

An even smaller Auction house, Stevens Auction Co. in Aberdeen, Miss told Kovel's that their auction business is also doing well again.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Yin and Yang (1992-2002), Robert Arneson, Bronze with white patina, edition 2/3, The blogger's husband posing with the statue. The artist had a keen sense of humor and probably would have like the correlation between the real and the fake heads.

Robert Arneson was born in Benicia California in 1930. After a stint teaching in a California highschool, he became interested in ceramics. In 1958 Arneson received an MFA from Mills College and in 1962 he became a professor at the University of California Davis.

Looking at Arneson's work today one might suspect the artist had a keen sense of humor. What one might not suspect is that the way he used ceramics was, for the time, ground-breaking. Until that time, most ceramics artists created pieces which were purely functional (think teapots, bowls, and tiles). Arneson broke away from that tradition and started creating non-utilitarian pieces. Soon, he became associated with a group of California "Pop" artists who created what was known as "Funk art".

Arneson also became known for creating a series of self-portraits in a wide variety of mediums. Each work depicted the artist with a different identity. In this way, he associated himself with larger issues such as suffereing, life, and death. This is not to suggest that the artist was not controversial. Arneson created many works which challenged authority, poked fun at public figures, and questioned the art world itself.

Robert Arneson, Portrait of George (Moscone), 1981 (7'-10" x 29")

The most famous of these works is a depiction of the San Francisco mayor George Moscone. Arneson was commissioned to create the sculpture in 1981 for the Moscone Convention Center just a few short years after the popular politician's 1978 assassination. When the bust was revealed, much of the public was shocked by the five bloody bullet holes on the pedestal, the words "bang, bang, bang" and "Harvey Milk Too!" Eventually, the Arts Council decided not to use the bust and a private collector purchased it.

The Egghead series (photo at top of page) were among some of the artist's last works before he died. They were originally commissioned for the UC Davis campus. Today the Eggheads are an important part of life on the campus. In fact, the artist specifically requested that the University never limit or inhibit the student's playful interaction with his sculptures. Because the estate of the artist owns the originals, 'editions' of the same works can be seen in other public locations. Recently, when I was in San Francisco, I saw Yin and Yang on the Embarcadero. Pictured above with my husband posing next to them, these pieces are bronze with a white patina are number 2 in an edition of 3.

Today, Robert Arneson's pieces continually sell privately and at auction. Some recent auction figures can be found below. The pieces that demand the most money are those that are more representative of the artist's point of view. Generally, this means they are political or funny. The first piece listed below was completed in a more traditional style and sold for just $3,585. The other pieces have sold or are estimated to sell for higher values because they better represent what collectors are looking for when buying an Arneson piece.

Robert Arneson
bronze with blue green patina
Year of Work
Height 7.2 in.; Width 4.2 in.; Depth 3 in. / Height 18.3 cm.; Width 10.7 cm.; Depth 7.6 cm.
Walla Walla ed.
Inscribed, Stamped
Sale of
Bonhams & Butterfields: Monday, November 19, 2007 [Lot 01604]Made in California
5,000 - 7,000 US$
Sold For
3,585 US$

Robert Arneson
W.T.W. witness - William T. Wiley
Robert Arneson (American, 1930-1992)W.T.W. Witness (William T. Wiley), 1980signed and dated 'Arneson 1980' (lower right)conte crayon, oil crayon, oil paste and oil stick on Reeves paper51 x 30in
conté crayon, oil crayon, oil paste and oil stick on Reeves paper
Year of Work
Height 51 in.; Width 30 in. / Height 129.5 cm.; Width 76.2 cm.
Sale of
Bonhams & Butterfields Los Angeles: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 [Lot 02082]Made in California
20,000 - 30,000 US$
Morgan Gallery, Shawnee Mission, Kansas (label on the reverse)Hansen Fuller Goldeen Gallery, San Francisco, California (label on the reverse)Property of a Southern California Collection

Robert Arneson
A nuclear warhead
Year of Work
Height 16.9 in.; Width 18.5 in.; Depth 9.1 in. / Height 42.9 cm.; Width 47 cm.; Depth 23.1 cm.
Sale of
Bonhams & Butterfields: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 [Lot 01119]Made in California
12,000 - 18,000 US$
Sold For
32,400 US$

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Circa 1895, Household Sewing Machine Company, in the collection of the Henry Ford Museum

As an appraiser of old things, I can say with authority that there are many misconceptions about how or why some items are valuable and some are not. Recently, I appraised an item for $3000 and the client swore to me he knew it was worth more. Even after I showed him the most recent sales figures for the same item (with photographs) he was not convinced. It is hard for most people to separate their emotions from their possessions. Common objections are “my mother left this to me and she told it me it was very valuable", “someone once offered me a lot of money for this item”, or “I saw the very same item in a museum and they wouldn’t own something that was not valuable.”

It was the third objection that the $3000 man used as his objection. In our consumer-driven society we often forget that museums do not collect just what is valuable. They also collect items that relate to their collection and to the mission of the museum. Just because an item has historical significance does not mean it has great monetary value. Supply and demand are still applicable in the art and antiques world.

A good example of this is the late 19th century sewing machine. The sewing machine was one of the first machines found in many American homes in the 19th century. At the time, the machines were made by the hundreds of thousands and the technology used to make them was state-of-the art. The sewing machine pictured above was made around 1895 by the Household Sewing Machine Company of Providence Rhode Island. I took a picture of it last month when I visited the Henry Ford Museum. The Ford Museum's mission is to showcase the "genius of the American people" as well as "to bring to life the stories of ordinary people."Thus, the sewing machine was chosen because it is an example of an innovation that helped spur the American economy and average American households forward. The machine was a revolution in technology for its time. Today, however, the market does not financially reflect the historical importance of the item. Sewing machines were made in such large quantities that there are still many that exist today and there are not a lot of modern uses for them. Thus, the prices remain relatively low. Below are some examples of recent auction figures.

1. Household Sewing machine with trunk and cabinet sold at Skinner Auctions on Jan. 24, 2008 for $50

2. Singer Sewing Machine sold at Homestead Auctions, Feb 17, 2008 for $30
3. Singer Sewing Machine sold California Auctioneers, March 16, 2008 for $70

Monday, September 7, 2009


Made In China, Julie McNair

For the last eight weeks, I have been traveling more than usual to complete appraisal work throughout the country. In every city I visit, I try to carve out time at the end of the day or between flights to see an art exhibit or to experience a new museum. One of my favorite places in recent memorry has been Telluride, Colorado. Located in the southwest portion of the state, Telluride is an amazingly beautiful town with a rich history and a lovely art scene.

One day, during an early morning walk, I came face to face with the sculpture above and it immediately captured my attention. The sculpture entitled Made In America is one of the works featured in artist Julie McNair's latest exhibited, Being Human. The title, Being Human, suggests that the artist's intent is to capture what it is like to be human. But more than that, the artist is concerned with what it is like to be human in today's world. For instance Made in America is a depiction of a woman wearing the stars of the American Flag on her dress as she hides American Flag behind her back. Her facial expression is both proud and sad. Is this a comment on the decline in American manufacturing and its proud heritage or is it a comment about the American worker? Is the woman proud or ashamed of her country?

The answers are left to the viewer but the method of creation are readily apparent.
And thoses methods are both interesting and fully successful. Each sculpture has a different texture which is acheived throught the use of press molds, detailed by hand-painting, and then sealed with a post-fired patina. The texture and color help create a mood and personality for each figure. Today's viewer is more accustomed to viewing physically beautiful models as the subject. But McNair's subjects are not traditionally beautiful. Instead, they are interesting and flawed and this forces the viewer to focus on the artist's message or the particular issue she is exploring without wasting time on the beauty of the face or the body. McNair has said, “I start a piece with a specific idea, whether it’s a personal concern or more of a big picture dilemma. From that starting point I jump into the creative flow. The finished piece ends up embodying that energy.”

Julie McNair is a long time resident of Telluride, Colorado but she was not educated in the state. She received her undergraduate degree in sculpture from North Texas University and her M.F.A. in fine arts from the University of Wyoming. During her long arts career she has had varying jobs including grants writer, executive director of the Art League of Houston, Assistant Professor, and art gallery owner.

Being Human will be on display at the Ah Haa Gallery in Telluride, Colorado until September 24, 2009.

Friday, July 24, 2009


In recent years I have begun to notice commercial fixtures showing up in my client's homes. Most people are familiar with the commerical grade stoves and refrigerators in high end homes but recently I have noticed commercial display cases showcasing everything from jewelry to vintage toys to a man's tie collection.

The case above is an Arts and Crafts jewlry case with a trestle base. It is described as having 'key and tenon' contruction and a shoefoot base with brass caps. The finish is original. It sold at Treadway Gallery in Cincinnati in March of 2007 for $600.

The case below is a Lavico Men's Jewelry Display case. it is made of clear glass and oak with three inner shelves and a lower storage drawer. It will be sold on July 29, 2009 at Tom Harris Auctions in Marshalltown, IA. The estimate on this case is $200-$300. To bid on this auction click here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Monk on the Seashore, Caspar David Friedrich, c. 1809, Oil on Canvas, 3' 7.25" X 5' 7.25", National Galerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin
Casper David Friedrich was admitted into the Prussian Royal Academy in 1811 based on the strength of this painting. At the time, the juxtaposition of the small monk against the vast expanse of sky was an unusual composition. Many believe that this painting is a self portrait of the artist and represents man's preoccupation with death and the vastness and endurance of nature.

Badwater Lake, Death Valley, CA, Easter Sunday, Joel Sternfeld, 2005, Chromogenic Print, 48" X 38.5", available at Rose Gallery (310) 264-8440
Joel Sternfeld is a contemporary photographer. He was born in 1944 in New York and is known for his large format, color photographs. Sternfeld often works with a tripod mounted view camera which allows him to explore his subjects from a distance. Although the artist's works are often said to continue the photographer Walker Evan's tradition of capturing "roadside America" the compositional similarity to the work of Friedrich is at once apparent. Further, the artist's objective also seems to be similar. Photographed at a distance, the figures in this painting appear small and insignificant compared to the large landscape.
Works of this size by this artist have recently sold at auction for around $17,000-$18,000.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


English silver plated epergne with cut crystal bowls, 19" wide, 19" high, sold at Northgate Gallery on Dec. 3, 2005 for $1200

An epergne is a table centerpiece with a central bowl and arms which extend from the center. The arms also terminate in bowls or holders for fruit or flowers. The epergne's history has ties to the seventeenth century when foods that had been eaten from a common bowl began being served on individual plates.

Although records indicate that the first epergne appeared in England around 1720, there are no known examples from that period. However, the earliest known examples are very large with cast feet and hanging baskets. They were often used to save space on the table and provided a convenient way for guests to serve themselves smaller items such as nuts and fruit. Silver epergnes with glass bowls first began to appear around 1770. From the late 19th-early 20th centuries the form of the Epergne was briefly revived but mainly for decorative purposes. In America during that perioed, Gorham was one of the best makers of the Epergne. Today, Epergnes are regularly offered in the marketplace. Often they are glass, silver, or a combination of both. Below is an Epergne which will be sold in July at Brunk Auctions in Asheville, North Carolina.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


"There is nothing ugly in art except that which is without character, that is to say, that which offers no outer or inner truth"-Auguste Rodin

Character and truth are at the heart of the photographs of the French artist known as "J.R". His work is inspired by those that often have no voice. He travels to violent places and interviews people who have been the victims of rape, abuse, discrimination, and poverty. Once he has an idea of who his subjects are, he photographs them, blows up the portraits to larger-than-life size, and plasters them on walls, buildings, and landmarks around the area. In this way, J.R. has much more in common with the graffiti artists who question the way public space is used. Most recently, J.R. has traveled to Africa and Brazil to focus on the women who have suffered through civil war.
The exhibition of the photographs in public spaces has given a voice to those who would otherwise be overlooked. While a photograph in a small frame has to be sought out and examined, J.R.'s images are just the opposite. A photograph which takes up the entire facade of a building confronts every person who is walking down the street.
It would be difficult to valuate the large scale pieces. Like a lot of large scale art, not many people would have a place to hang these works. Secondly, it is unlikely that they could be removed from the buildings without being torn to shreds. Recently, there have been some small scale pieces by the artist which have sold at auction. The prices for those works can be seen below.


Title: Favela
Description: signed, titled, dated 2008 and numbered 2/3 on a label affixed to the
Medium: chromogenic print on metallic paper, mntd on aluminum
Year of Work: 2008
Size: Height 31.5 in.; Width 56.3 in.
Edition : 2/3
Sale of : Sotheby's New York: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 [Lot 00305]Contemporary Art Day Sale
Estimate: $10,000 - $12,000
Sold For: $25,000

Title:Ladj ly-Braquage
Description: signed, dated 2008 and stamped on a label affixed to the
Medium: photographic print on paper mntd on wood
Year of Work: 2008
Size: Height 27.4 in.; Width 41.5 in.
Sale of : Sotheby's London: Friday, February 06, 2009 [Lot 00173]Contemporary Art Day Sale
Estimate: 10,000 - 15,000 BP ($14,615 -$ 21,923)
Sold For: 26,250 BP ($38,220 )

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Calvin Klein, Silkscreen on offset, 51.3 X 30.3, 3/5, signed Cornette de Saint-Cyr: Sunday, October 26, 2008, sold for $9,597

Brian Donnelly was born in New Jersey, educated at the School of Visual Art in New York, worked as an illustrator for Disney, became a graffiti artist in New York and currently works as an artist showing his work in galleries as well as designing his own line of toys and clothing for a company in Japan called Original Fake.

Kaws OriginalFake Pillow, Brown, produced by Medicom Toy, $78 sold here

Kaws first became well known as a a graffiti artist around New York by placing his art atop bus stop advertisements, billboards, and walls. He has said he chose the moniker "Kaws" for no other reason than he liked the way the letters looked together in his graffiti script. Today, the artist finds himself in a place many professional artists would like to be: He's famous. But it is not the kind of fame that makes him known exclusively among wealthy collectors and art professionals. Kaws was born in 1974. He is part of generation "X" (an interesting coincidence since he likes to use the "X" in the place of eyes in many of his works). But like many of his generation, he is a man of many income streams. There is the art which can bring in a lot of money. Wikipedia says that the artist's sculpture "Wonderful World" recently sold in Japan for $400,000. There is also the clothing line, the toys, and the knicknacks which appeal to an entirely different group of buyers. These items are affordable and allow a younger consumer to know and appreciate his work.

If creating a future market for his expensive works by grooming his young buyers now is an inventive tactic, then Kaw's ability to interest his own generation is nothing short of marketing genius. By taking familiar and comforting images such as the Smurfs, the Michelan Man, and the Simpsons and transforming them into something entirely new and recognizably "Kaws", Donnelly has enticed a market of buyers who find those images both familiar and new. And as any owner of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup cans could tell you: Familar + New = Vast Fortune.

Chum, painted cast vinyl, 2002, 13 X 8.5 X 4, edition of 500, stamped, Philips De Pury (London), Sept. 6, 2008, sold for $1,836

Friday, June 5, 2009


Rookwood Bunny paperweight, 1961, cinnamon high glaze, impressed with Rookwood date and shape 6160. Estimate $250-$350
It is June which means it is time for the rabbits to start eating the vegetables in your garden. It also means that it is time for the Fine American and European Art Pottery and Art Glass annual sale at Cincinnati Art Galleries. The sale will take place on June 6th and June 7th.
Rookwood began in 1880 by Marie Longworth Nichols and ended production in 1960. Over the years, Rookwood followed the trends and became proficient in many styles including art nouveau, arts and crafts, and art deco. One thing that never changed was the company's quality. From the beginning, the company employed talented artists whose craftsmanship was second-to-none. Nichols desired for her company to be different than the other companies who produced commercial products. To differentiate her company, she hired artists who already had reputations as good painters and craftspeople. The early green and gold colors of Rookwood glazes came from clay in the Ohio Valley Region.
For more information or to view the auction online visit the Cincinnati Art Galleries website here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Still Life with Cash Box, Roy Lichtenstein, 1976, sold at Christie's on May 12 for $1,986,500

The numbers are in and the market is down....again. On May 12, Sotheby's sold 39 of 48 lots for a total of $47,033, 500 while Christie's May 13, 2009 sale achieved $93.7 million and sold 49 of 50 lots. Artnet Magazine reported that the total price of the Christie's sale was down considerably from just twelve months ago. In May 2008 the sale price at Christie's for the night was $348 million. In fact, just six months ago, the total sum was $113.6 million. On the upside, the rate of decline during the last eighteen months has slowed and while there were some considerable 'deals', record prices were achieved at the sale. Among the record prices were David Hockney's 1966-67 work entitled Beverly Hills Housewife which sold for $7,922,500 and Roy Lichtenstein's Still Life with Cash Box from 1976 which sold for $1,986,500.
Engraved by Paul Revere in 1768 and handcolored in 1770 by Christian Remick, 9 3/4" X 15 1/2", sold at Northeast Auctions March sale for $469,000
It is not just the large auction houses which have reported high highs and low lows. At Northeast Auctions (Manchester, NH) March 21 & 22 sale the total realized price was $1.786 million. While 1000 of the 1103 lots sold, the prices for most of the lots were down considerably. The sale of a very nice Queen Anne highboy proved that even furniture was not immune. Just nine months ago the very same piece which sold for $90,000 brought $55,575 in this sale. In fact, it was just two rare lots that brought the total up for the night including a rare Paul Revere engraved print of troops landing in Boston as well as an ivory portrait in miniature of George Washington.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Philadelphia Patriotic Scene, Frank Godwin, Gouache on board, 18 1/2" X 17",
American Illustrators Gallery (212) 744-5190 Send Email

Sunday, April 12, 2009


If you celebrate Easter, you are probably familiar with the traditionally shaped Easter Basket. Usually, these "wicker" or "splint" baskets are made from williow, cane, or reed. In the U.S., Nantucket Baskets and Williamsburg baskets are common. You may be surprised to learn that basket making is one of the oldest crafts known to man. Because of the organic materials baskets are made from it is difficult to know just how old the craft acutally is. However, the oldest-known baskets have been carbon dated from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. This is longer than any known examples of pottery. Today, the craft of basketmaking has evolved to suit the tastes of our times. Now, more than ever, baskets are more than utilitarian vessels. Consider the "Jacaranda Basket" seen above. This basket was made by Michael and Christine Adcock of Adcock Studios. Mr. Adcock studied art and ceramics at the University of California Santa Cruz, taking a traditional route in art by becoming a studio potter. On the other hand, Mrs. Adcock studied art at the University of California and then contacted traditional weavers who taught her the craft. Her route was less traditional as she arranged to live and apprentice on the Papago Reservation. Together, these two artists collaborate to create vessels made of clay and natural fibers. Like many other basketmakers throughout the world, their innovations have helped elevate the craft of basketmaking to an art form.
This Easter, as you watch the children gather their eggs in wicker (or plastic) baskets consider the ancient form. Remember that the shape of the basket is an ancient one that ties us to distant lands and earlier peoples. It reminds us that while many things may change many more remain the same. The art and craft of basket making continues.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Jasper Johns, Diver, 1962 owned by Norman Braman is on ArtNews 'Ten most Wanted Works of Art" list

The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) listed him as a benefactor in their 2005-2006 capital campaign but Bernie Madoff has likely hurt the arts more than any other individual in history with his Ponzi scheme.

For those that don't know, a Ponzi scheme is a duplicitous investment deal that involves the promise of abnormally high profits to investors. The money paid to early investors is gleamed from later investors rather than from returns generated by an actual business.

At age 95, Carl J. Shapiro, a prominent Boston art patron and the former director of Vanity Fair Corporation was one of Mr. Madoff's most unsuspecting victims. Shapiro and his wife, Ruth's namesake foundation, "The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation" lost a shocking $145 million in the Madoff's Ponzi scheme. The Foundation was a large contributor to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Norton Museum in Palm Beach. Mr. Shapiro was also a strong advocate for the foundation of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. Even more unfortunate was the fact that Mr. Shapiro was one of Mr. Madoff's most loyal investors and introduced him to many of his other future "investors" at their shared country club in Palm Beach.

But Mr. Shapiro was not the only wealthy art patron to lose money with Madoff. Norman Braman, a billionaire, former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, and owner of many important and coveted paintings including Jasper John's Diver (which is on ArtNews 'Ten Most Wanted Works of Art' List) was also duped.