I’ll Drink to That! Front and Back Bar Brings $302,500

Front_and_back_barA monumental mahogany front and back bar made around 1893 by Brunswick, Balke & Collender Co., the desirable Los Angeles model and with an original matching liquor cabinet, soared to $302,500 at the living estate of Ron Wallace – a dedicated collector and former president of UPS – held Oct. 2-4 at the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The three-day auction was held by Showtime Auction Services, based in nearby Woodhaven. The front and back bar was one of the top earners of about 1,700 lots that changed hands in a sale that grossed around $2.2 million. “It was our best auction ever in terms of average dollar amount per lot,” said Mike Eckles of Showtime Auction Services. “It was a very successful sale with several records set.”

One of those records was the front and back bar – 24 feet in wide and 11 feet tall, with hand-carved, life-size nude supports between beveled mirrors, each weighing 140 pounds and standing 5 feet 4 inches tall. The matching liquor cabinet had adjustable shelves and a zinc-like base. “We’ve only seen two of these bars in 25 years, and only one with a matching original liquor cabinet,” Eckles said.

Another record was established for saloon doors when a set made circa 1902, also by Brunswick, Balke & Collender Co., brought $77,000. The solid mahogany swinging saloon doors, 96 inches wide by 78 inches tall, were originally from a saloon in Milwaukee and had applied carvings at the top. They were refinished 25 years ago and had a great patina, with beveled glass incorporated in all the panels.

Wallace, the sale’s headliner, is a larger-than-life figure. He resides in a spectacular, 44,000-square-foot home in suburban Atlanta, where his collections of vintage firearms, advertising, gambling, saloon, brothel and country store items were kept. But the auction also featured a treasure trove of over 1,000 rare and vintage toys, plus barber shop, soda fountain and advertising collectibles, and other items.

About 350 bidders attended the auction in person, while another 100 people bid by phone and 125 others submitted absentee bids. Online bidding was facilitated by LiveAuctioneers.com and iCollector.com, with over 150 people registered to bid online. “The bidders in attendance had a great time and really enjoyed room hopping at the Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor,”  Eckles said. “We didn’t see much evidence of a recession. People came to spend money.”

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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