Tag: walter Baum
Fair Park in Dallas can be a busy place. Specific buildings within the park, the site of the 1936 Texas Exposition, can be difficult to find. The White Rock Marathon occurring during show hours made it particularly difficult this time around. But honestly the parking space was harder to find than the Food and Fiber Pavilion, where the show was held.
For me the most enjoyable part of the day was gaining insights from veteran dealer Woody Straub. Here I brought up my theory that in the future objects and art of the American West would become harder to sell. Straub seemed to agree and brought up the fact that most of those collectors grew up with the American West on television. In fact, there are few new collectors, period. The people who collect have been doing it for a long time.
We were talking about shows in different parts of the country as he recalled some of his favorites. A Florida resident, Straub said the Sunshine State was currently a better place to buy than sell, at least as far as his brand of merchandise was concerned. The small shows he likes are the ones where the promoters made the extra effort. Being treated well is the reason to go out of the way. Two he mentioned specifically were the Madison Antiques Show in Georgia and one in coastal Virginia. To me the message here is clear. Antique shows can provide what the internet and auctions can’t, an experience. That’s a word the industry has to begin to really take to heart.
Straub also talked a bit about the differences between doing shows in New England and in the South. He said in New England if you have a bad show, it could be because of the merchandise you brought, but in the South, it could be you. That’s because collectors at small shows in the South like to know a bit more about who they are buying from.
We also talked about shows in Dallas area, and he did mention that word was getting around that the Dolly Johnson in Fort Worth was a favorite among dealers, although he had a conflicting show that so far has kept him from displaying there.
We also touched on the growing markets including Latin American Art. Straub pointed out a large landscape painting in his booth by Armando Barrias. The work as priced at $5,800 and while I wasn’t able to immediately locate auction records, Straub had some on hand and he indicated they had been on the rise for some time.
Forty-six years’ touring around the country cannot summarize enough Woody’s deep love of antiques. Born in a family which founded the Hobbies magazine with siblings antiques dealers, Woody began to buy and sell at the age of twelve. While a serious collector needs dedication, patience and focus, a great dealer, knowing the varied interests of potential customers, needs eyes and instinct to buy. A folk art oil painting of a group of chickens is such a special find that I was totally intrigued by its modern appeal. Dated in 1865, the painting was identified on the label as folk-art pointillism. It is nevertheless a line drawing of oil paint reminiscent of engraving print made of roulette wheels. The central rooster, much larger than chicks and a hen around, was painted with fluidity and succinctness. While the background is reduced to totally black, thus no three dimensionality can be inferred; a tree can be seen gracely through the rooster’s feather and also pops out on the left and top. The adoption of varied dots to form curvy lines, the flattened surface and the mannered, near oriental treatment of the tree make this unknown artwork a marvel.
We also ran into R.L. Riddell, who has a map shop in Dallas and was sharing a booth at the show. Riddell has two large books of art collections in the U.S. sometime around 1900 including Walters (which became the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore). A quick browse through the two-volume books shows that most of the paintings fall into the French Academy category and most of the painters will not be able to be found in major American museums today. While each individual engraving was done with great skill, and some are treated in speacial monotone blue ink, the best part of the book, in my mind, is that it provides a glimpse of what the fad was back then among major American collectors. Where are these paintings now? I am wondering. Perhaps a more interesting question to ask is how many of contemporary artworks in future will only be seen in book reference?
Ridell asked the question, if you had money to invest now, what could you buy in hopes of turning a few thousand now into a lot more later? Photographs was one answer (please don’t take that as investment advice without doing your own research). Perhaps works by Latin American artists like Barrias is another. If you have further thoughts on this topic, please feel free to contribute through the comments section. Whatever the answer, it doesn’t seem to be as easy as it used to be!
There were some other well-displayed booths featuring books, ceramics, Chinese furniture and weather vanes, but I have to mention the fact that if I had to sum up the show in one word, I might use gloomy. I don’t want to take away from the hard work that goes into these events or pile onto the damage the weak economy and other factors are having on the industry, but it doesn’t do anyone any good to have a show without edge or energy. The lighting in particular was very bad and most of the dealers did not supplement it with their own. There also wasn’t any music and I noted the price for “Spring Water” was the same price as the show admission, $6. Even if you went to the show and found the most wonderful object you’d ever seen for a great price, you might come out with a mild depression.
It’s time to spice things up a little.
The Tower Building in Dallas’s Fair Park seems a good location for an antique show. Home to nine museums, six performance facilities, a lagoon, and the largest Ferris wheel in North America. Many of the buildings on the complex were constructed for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936 which drew over six million visitors. Most of the buildings built for the exposition still survive and Fair Park is recognized as a significant example of Art Deco architecture.
We had no problem finding “Doris Day” parking for the show, however. Most of the cars heading into the complex, were likely headed to the musical Wicked. The array of dealers and merchandise at the show made me think the line was at the wrong door. This is one of the most satisfying shows I have been to in some time.
Particularly engrossing was the booth of Woody and Nancy Straub of Umatilla, Florida. The Straub’s deal in work by regional artists. On hand was a nice assortment of Pennsylvania paintings by George Hetzel, Walter Baum and Frank Lesser. Why the prevalence of Pennsylvania art at a Texas show? It just happened they were low on works by Texas artists. Two paintings by Walter Baum, a Pennsylvania impressionism painter, whose market values have been appreciated very fast in the past decade, were proudly hung in his booth. “Last year, one of his paintings was sold for more than $70,000″, he said.
I pointed out that he is very prolific and he agreed and said “he painted very fast”.
“Would that prevent his market values from continuing going up? Since there are so many of them. ” I asked.
“No. Because there are always some available, that can keep driving the interest.” His remarks at first confused me, but it does make sense. For most of the middle art market, a large throughput from an artist is a key to see a continuous growth in appreciation since the supply won’t die any time soon and there are always enough to circulate in the market and satisfy the need. This also reminds me that the dealer Rene Gimpel commented that there were only about 200 paintings by Henry Golden Dearth, a painter whose art he deeply appreciated. But now he is mostly forgotten due to the limited public accessibility to his art.
Unique collectible items were also at present such as stereoview cards. Some of the cards featured Teddy Roosevelt, Lincoln or other political luminaries. Ansonia clocks were also spotted immediately by Geo. Those clocks, albeit too feminine in its shape and color, have reached the the far end of the American southwest, a land of cattle drives and cowboys.
Betty H. Bell had an interesting booth featuring holiday displays. A green Christmas tree was actually made of goose feather which is sturdy enough to survive more than 200 years. They are meant to display ornament as they are sparse between branches. Of course, you are not going to dump such a tree carelessly in your attic after the holidays. American have been used to CONSUME the holidays which ended in bags of wrapping paper, trashed trees. The idea of preserving the same holiday decoration years after years may sound strange, but what a wise investment if one’s ancestors every did: Those candy jars or goose-feather Christmas trees are now worth thousands of dollars!
In this series, Geo and I will list some of the interesting items that we have found in auctions, antique shops or eBay. We neither own the items and in most cases don’t have the capability of examining the items in person. It mainly serves as an inventory record of what interest us (not necessarily in terms of value or investment opportunities) and possibly how much it fetches (if the result can be obtained). If you are serious about some lots, please contact the auction houses, dealers or eBay sellers directly.
1. Cottone Auction, Sept 26, 2009. Lot 43: Harry Gautschi & Sons Music Box
I have found that to listen to a music box gives me more satisfaction than to use an iPod on a subway train. In general music boxes are not that rare to find, but this one with the inlaid & ebonized rosewood case and 3 interchangeable cylinders, drum & bells with enameled butterflies, is still a pleasure to watch even when silent. Based on the description, it is in working order with good teeth for the “comb”. I am wondering whether there are enough disks around to enrich the variety. Watching a moving music box has as much fun as enjoying its deep resonance. This one even provides the drum and bell to add the spice! I would buy it for my kids (if I had one) to intrigue them in both the mechanical wonders and musicality. Again, I always believe that plastic electronics can never beat the sound of vibration from real wood or metal.
2. Cottone Auction, Sept 26, 2009. Lot 145: Philadelphia Federal Card Table and Sewing Stand, attributed to Joseph Barry.
Joseph Barry, a trained London furniture maker, moved to Philadelphia in 1790′s. Brry’s workshop produced one of the finest furniture with features such as carved acanthus leaves, fleur de lus, palmetto leaves, horizontal beehive reeding lion’s paw feet, female heads and serpents. Geo loves the spiral-carved foliage decorated pedestal of the card table. The reeded sabre legs and the lion’s head brass caps are typical of Joseph Barry. From the book “Philadelphia Empire Furniture” page 204, I can find similarity between the illustrated Barry card table and this particular one. The minor differences are 1) A donut-shaped mobile wreath at the base of the pedestal (above the foliage) which was carved separately for the illustrated table is missing in the current lot. Another curious case is the bulging tops of the sabre legs take a different form in this two pieces of furniture. Furniture attribution can seldom be firm without provenance, signature or original labels. But what he advertised in a Savannah newspaper when he opened his new shop there is still valid for this auction lot — “A most complex assortment of elegant and warranted well finished mahogany furniture.”
3. Cottone Auction, Sept 26, 2009. Lot 170: Walter E. Baum (American, 1884-1956) “The Village”
Walter Baum is one of the few Pennsylvania Impressionism painters that collectors with limited budget can still afford, even for a major work. A recent article disclosed that Baum’s wife pushed him to paint at least one painting a day for quick cash, thus probably certain degree of connoiseurship is needed to distinguish a daily-bread Baum from more time-consuming major works. I am not an expert on Walter Baum. At his best, I saw a muscular power from the succinct brushstroke. But if George Bellow’ passionate use of thick layers of pigments directly onto pictures is desirable for gritty urban scenes, then some of Baum’s autumn village scenes are too much of nicety for raw and bold treatment. This one, dark and solemn, bears a label from Salmagundi Club indicating it was selected for the “Thumb Box Exhibition, 1947″, perhaps an artist nod’s for its excellence.
4. Bonhams, SoMa Estate Auction, Sept 20, 2009. Lot 4518: A William and Mary walnut side chair from the late 17th century
By now if you keep following this series, you probably think I am a chair mania.:) Tall, stately, and airy, William and Mary chairs, in my mind, are the first type that get away from the clumsiness. Yet its elegant baroque carving still recalls the old world. I am no expert on William and Mary, although I have learned certain carvings of the crest can be used to attribute the origin. Geo could not tolerate all the curves and turns, but I would love to have one if I had a library of oak paneling. On this particular lot, sadly, American Museums are selling inventory again.This time: the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Take it on the bright side: Since it is a museum piece, at least seldom people sit on it and the old cane must still sound.
5. Hampel Auction, Germany, Sept 18, 2009. Lot 403: Still life by Johann Wilhelm Preyer.
Sometimes it takes a museum visit to learn and meet some painters who you will never forget. The visit to MFA, Boston brought me to look at Gerrit Dou, and the last trip to the Walters Art Museum it was Johann Wilhelm Preyer whom I put in the search list. Neither do I agree still life is a low level of fine art nor I think the consummate realism matters less with the arrival of photograph. Like other typical pictures of Preyer, fruits come alive under his mastery of texture and light. Also there is that warm glaze harmonizing the picture which almost makes everything glow. Maybe I am opiniated , but I tend to think it is the small subject that showcases the supreme vision.
6. eBay, item number: 250493485992. Landscape by Henry Ward Ranger
I guess the word impressionism help painting sell so that the seller added it to the title (although I won’t quibble on the use of “plein air”). This painting by the Dean of American Barbizon School, Henry Ward Ranger, will end the auction tomorrow. Ranger was a painter so prolific that sometimes it seems there are more Henry Ward Ranger paintings around than one man could have possibly painted. Ranger was the founder of the Old Lyme School in Connecticut (but left shortly after the arrival of Child Hassam). This 12×16 landscape is being offered on eBay and at the time of this writing, there’s considerable interest with 13 bids. Prices for works by Ranger vary widely. The listing notes they’ve sold for up to $23,000 at auction. Browsing through LiveAuctioneers.com it’s easy to see they’ve also sold for $650 at auction. One of the things to note is the National Academy of Design “Ranger Stamp” on the reverse. Ranger left his entire residuary estate to the National Academy to be sold and used to purchase works by American artists. The works purchased were to be given to libraries and art institutions throughout the country. The stamps indicate the paintings were part of Ranger’s estate. A stamp also indicates a painting may be an incomplete work or a study.
7. eBay, item number 150364756043. PRR 1940/50s LAUREL Pattern 7-3/8in. Dinner/Salad Plate
Why not make your dinnerware as interesting as your furniture and walls. China from hotels, restaurants and railroads can add interest to a meal that only increases as your plate clears. Of the three, perhaps the most expensive and collected is railroad china and one of the top roads to collect is the Pennsylvania Railroad. Offered on ebay (Buy it Now, $29.95) is a dinner plate in the Laurel pattern from the mid-century. Like most plates that were actually used the listing says this one has surface scratches. The back of the plate says it’s Buffalo China made exclusively for Kniffin and Demarest, china distributors in New York. Keep in mind “china” is a generic term and technically this is likely to be stoneware. One of my favorite designs in railroad china is the Dewitt Clinton pattern from the New York Central. It’s also one of the more affordable designs. For after dinner, there’s nothing like scotch on the rocks in one of these.