Monday, November 30, 2009

Voting Starts Tomorrow!!!

Tomorrow, December 1st, marks the start of our two-week voting period to decide which folk art pieces from the Fenimore Art Museum collection go on view in our galleries next spring. As in the test run a couple of weeks ago, your choices will appear in a polling gadget on the right side of this page. I will list the blog posts by date so you can easily find them and read them again if that helps you decide.

Please bear in mind that I had one reader who had difficulty voting using Firefox, but no trouble when he switched to Internet Explorer. So if you have trouble, see if this helps.

In the meantime, here is the list you will see tomorrow, listed by date. Thanks for helping us shape a great new folk art exhibit! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Headless Bodies: Myth or Fiction? – Aug 14
If these walls could talk – Aug 17
Warrior Mermaid – Aug 19
Limner on the Lam – Aug 20
Abraham Lincoln, the Kitchen Companion – Aug 28
The Negro Portrayed as “a Beast” – Aug 31
Vegetarian Lumberjack – Sept 3
Fasanella’s Labor of Love – Sept 7
The African American Cigar Store Indian – Sept 14
Did F.H. Sweet Paint with his Feet? – Sept 17
Where there’s Smoke – Sept 24
Jewish Origins of Carousel Carving – Sept 28
A Bug’s Life – Oct 1
Framed in Maine – Oct 4
Folk Art in Moby Dick – Oct 8
A Deaf Artist in Early America – Oct 12
Knife Box – Oct 15
Edgar Tolson – Oct 26
The Limner Makes a House Call – Oct 29
A Canal Runs Through It – Nov 2
Yankee Stadium – Nov 5
Hudson River Steamboat Collision – Nov 9
Clementine Hunter – Nov 12
Two Heads are Better than One – Nov 17
Chance Encounter – Nov 19
Hidden Jewell – Nov 23
Mistake of Epic Proportions – Nov 26

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Mistake of Epic Proportions

When it comes to scholarship on works of art, nothing trumps common sense. A couple of days ago I was reminded of this while walking through our storage facility and glancing across the room at a large ship’s figurehead that we have had in the Fenimore Art Museum collection for many years. I’ve seen it many times, of course, and have never really given it the attention it deserves. This time, I did a double-take.

The figurehead came to us from the Jean and Howard Lipman Collection, and was said to depict Hercules. In fact, it came with a great history: it was reportedly made for the ship “Herculean” out of Kingston, Massachusetts, built in 1839 and used primarily for the shipment of cotton from the southern United States to New England and on to Europe. According to the history of the ship, during one particular voyage in 1849 the Herculean put into port at Glasgow, Scotland with numerous leaks. These leaks were allegedly caused by having too much weight in the bow owing to the 800 lb. figurehead mounted there. When the ship returned to Boston the figurehead was said to have been removed and replaced with a smaller, lighter billet-head.
The figurehead’s story from that point on is remarkably detailed. Sources say it was brought to the Holmes shipyard, where the Herculean was built, and mounted to the second story of the rigging and sail loft. After the building was torn down, the figurehead lay in the sand among the cast-off timbers of the yard for years until it was rescued by a local man who placed it among the shrubs of his garden in Kingston. After a time there it disappeared.

We acquired the figurehead from Mr. and Mrs. Lipman in 1950. It is not known when or where they purchased it, along with the history above. It’s a great story, and the residents of Kingston were delighted to find the piece in our galleries, with the label detailing its history, in 1953.

The problem is simple. Look at the figurehead.

A toga? A scroll in the right hand? I’m not a classically trained scholar, but I have no recollection of ever hearing about or reading the Writings of Hercules, or the Speeches of Hercules. I’m not even sure he could read or write. Common sense tells me that this figurehead cannot be Hercules, and the connection with the Herculean must have a glitch somewhere.

Fred Fried, the preeminent scholar of folk sculpture in the 1970s, agreed when he saw this figurehead in 1970. A note from him tucked away in our research file states that he felt that carvers, even folk carvers, had a pretty good sense of their iconography. Look, for example, at the Hercules figurehead from the U.S.S. Ohio, now on display in Stony Brook (above).
Now that’s Hercules.

So who do we have? A Roman statesman, perhaps. That’s a problem we now have to confront. When we do, hopefully common sense will guide us.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hidden Jewell

It was a gilded age, to be sure. Lavish mansions in cities large and small, palatial homes by the sea, even large and prosperous farm complexes dotting the rural landscape. The late nineteenth century was definitely a time when homes, furnishings, and decorative accessories became elaborate and highly ornate. This was particularly true of one area of folk art that could be seen virtually anywhere in America: weathervanes.

Weathervanes of the Gilded Age were largely produced by large companies like L. W. Cushing & Sons of Waltham, Massachusetts and J. W. Fiske of New York. These manufacturers employed craftsmen to create copper vanes in a wide variety of types and styles in multiple sizes (often covered in gold leaf; that’s the “gilded” part) to be sold in catalogues that were distributed everywhere. They were mass-produced, but still hand crafted, thus maintaining a connection with the idea and spirit of folk art. As you might imagine, these vanes are highly prized, and have been for decades. You can forget about buying an authentic one with a solid provenance, unless you have too much money to sit around reading folk art blogs. Some bold thieves have even tried to steal these vanes from cupolas and steeples from helicopters, but this is not recommended. It is an act of air piracy and a Federal crime.

We have, in the Fenimore Art Museum collection, two prime examples of this form of American sculpture. The first is a grasshopper weathervane attributed to L. W. Cushing & Sons and made about 1885. I highlighted this piece in my October 1 post.

The other example, our Goddess of Liberty weathervane, has an even more interesting history. It was thought to be by Cushing too, but it has a patent date of September 1865 on its base. Cushing did not go into the weathervane business until 1867, when he bought an established business at auction. That business belonged to the pioneer of the commercial weathervane business, Alvin Jewell. Jewell started manufacturing weathervanes in 1852, along with other cast-iron and brass products for the home. He was the first to market his weathervanes in catalogues, and his repertoire included the Goddess of Liberty. Tragically, Jewell died in a fall from a scaffold in 1867 (this must have been an occupational hazard). When Cushing bought the business, he also purchased all of Jewell’s molds, thus enabling himself to reproduce all of the favorite vanes. That’s why it is so hard to tell a Cushing from a Jewell. See, for example, the Cushing version of the Goddess of Liberty in his 1883 catalogue at upper left.

In this case, however, we have the patent date as proof. Since Jewell was the only one making these goddesses in 1865, we now realize that we may have the only documented Goddess of Liberty by this important innovator. A Jewell indeed.
The images of the 1883 L. W. Cushing & Sons catalogues are courtesy of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A chance encounter brings a folk art masterpiece to Cooperstown

The most historically important piece in the Fenimore Art Museum’s folk art collection may never have been known if not for the chance encounter of two remarkable women on a hot summer day in Cooperstown in 1954. The setting was our then-annual Seminars on American Culture, a program that brought together national scholars and local historians for course and workshops in American history, art, and culture. The two women: the legendary folk art scholar Nina Fletcher Little (whose collection is now owned by Historic New England); and Mabel Parker Smith, County Historian for Greene County, on the Hudson River south of Albany.

Nina Little (1899 -1993) had the reputation of being an astute collector of all things New England, and she often scoured the countryside herself in search of overlooked items of great historical importance. She had even picked through the antique shops of upstate New York in order to “rescue” those New England pieces that had migrated westward. Mrs. Little had also written seminal studies of American folk art in the 1940s and 1950s.

Mabel Smith (1903-1996), if less well-known, was no less interesting. She had been a journalist in the New York State Capital, in fact the only woman with a permanent desk in the Capital press room. She covered the trial of gangster Jack "Legs" Diamond and the impeachment proceedings against New York City Mayor James J. Walker. She also had a keen interest in the history of her home county, which had been settled by the Dutch in the 17th century, and had been through many local homes in the process of researching the county’s long history.

Well, on that summer day in Cooperstown, Mrs. Smith sat in on a course given by Mrs. Little on American folk art, listening to her discuss painted overmantels. These were scenes painted on board meant to be set into the panel above an 18th- or 19th-century fireplace mantel. Mrs. Little wondered aloud why, despite their prevalence in New England, she had never found an overmantel in New York State.

The casual remark immediately struck a chord in Mrs. Smith, who had recently visited the home of two elderly descendents of the Van Bergen family who told her they had an old overmantel dating from their family home’s early days. After the Seminars, she went back to the house to see it again, and was convinced that it was an authentic New York State overmantel. She brought it to the attention of our then-Director Louis c. Jones, who had the museum purchase the piece for $100 even though it was too dirty to make out much detail.

It was only after cleaning and researching the Van Bergen Overmantel (which is fully seven feet long and 16” high) that its true historical value came to light.

Painted about 1732, it is the earliest known scene of everyday life in America.

It is the ONLY scene of everyday from 18th-century Dutch New York.

It is the earliest known view of the Catskill Mountains, which were to play such a prominent role in the Hudson River School landscapes of a century later.

It depicts a complete social stratification, from the prosperous landowner and his family, to their indentured servants and slaves, and even shows Indians from a neighboring tribe who traded with the Dutch. For a large, detailed image of the whole piece, follow this link.

To say that Mabel Parker Smith was proud of her find would be an understatement. She often told the story of her discovery in interviews and newspaper articles published locally. And when she passed away at the age of 93, visitors to her wake were probably not surprised to see a large color reproduction of the Van Bergen Overmantel stretched along the length of her casket.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Two heads are better than one

It appears that the Blogger polling gadget is working fine, with 20 voted so far and the results viewable at the right. I set the gadget to accept votes until 4 pm today, so by all means give it a try if you are so inclined. As I said in my post from Sunday, the real voting starts on TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1ST. Meanwhile, here's a new post.

This painting is truly one of our horrors. It is an 1840s portrait that depicts an unidentified gentleman holding a cane. You can tell by the way that it was painted that the artist had no particular talent in either naturalistic rendering or bold, colorful patterning of shapes and forms. There’s no realism, and no visual interest. Plus, the man scowls at the viewer like sitting for his portrait was a form of torture.

The painting was found in Rhode Island in the 1940s by Agnes Halsey Jones, the wife of our former director Louis c. Jones. She admitted to me some years ago that the only reason she bought this was that she was new to the field and had just discovered “primitives,” as folk art was then called. So she bought everything she found. She was quick to say that this work was a piece of junk, really, and not worthy of the Fenimore Art Museum collection.

Except for one small detail. Actually two details, that make this painting raise the eyebrows of every folk art specialist who has seen it, including me.
Take a look at the back. The painting was never relined so you are able to see the original reverse of the canvas. It’s different from any others that I have ever seen in my 27 years of looking at this material.

There are two painted heads on the back, one at the top and the other, upside down, at the bottom. The one at the top is clearly a woman, and the one at the bottom a child. The artist apparently used the reverse of the canvas to practice two other portraits, perhaps of the man’s wife and child. He even coated the surface of the reverse with a grey ground, a common practice for the design surface on the front to make the porous canvas surface readily hold paint.

With the reverse of the painting as it is, this artwork must be considered a rare surviving piece of evidence of the working methods of a folk painter. And worth keeping. But not exhibiting any time soon. We don’t make it a practice to scare small children.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Testing Polling Gadget for Blog-Curated Exhibition!

I mentioned in my post for Sunday, November 1 that I would be organizing the Fenimore Art Museum's first-ever blog-curated exhibition scheduled to open in the Spring of 2010. The content of this exhibition will be determined by you, the blog readers. I know from my stats that there are alot of you, some 3,300 per month, and new readers all the time. You will have the opportunity to vote for your favorite post, and the posts that get the most votes will be included in the exhibition along with the object most closely representing the content and, of course, the wording from the actual post as it appears in this blog.

In preparation for the actual voting, which will take place the first two weeks of December, I am testing the Blogger polling gadget for the next two days to see if it will work for this purpose. It appears at the right. Please note that I have included the dates of these posts so you can go back and reread them. I will probably include more posts in the actual voting.

So go ahead and vote for your favorite, but remember IT WON'T COUNT FOR REAL THIS TIME. I'll give you plenty of warning when the real voting begins. In the meantime, I'll at least know that the gadget works and that you all are interested enough to vote in large numbers.

You only get one vote (I may change that to three if you all think that is better).

Thanks for voting! And drop me a comment if you have better ideas on how to do this.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Clementine Hunter's Black Crucifixion

Simple, raw emotive power. The ability to form, in a few stark lines, an indelible impression representing a lifetime of experience. While much of the folk art in the Fenimore Art Museum possesses an intricacy and workmanship that can only be admired, virtually none has the impact of one small (15 1/4" square), unassuming piece: Clementine Hunter’s Black Crucifixion, painted sometime in the 1950s. And it’s not just the style. Hunter’s Jesus is black, and a woman.

Clementine Hunter had seen a lot of years, more than 100, actually. She was born in 1886 or 1887 at Hidden Hill Plantation in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, and grew up picking cotton. She worked for more than 75 years at nearby Melrose Plantation, not only in the cotton fields but also in the laundry and kitchen. The mistress of Melrose, Cammie Henry, made her home into a lively gathering place for artists, critics, and other cultural figures. By sheer happenstance, one of the visitors to Melrose in the 1950s left behind some discarded paints and brushes. Finding these items, Clementine did her first painting on an old window shade. It was the first of 4,000 works she would complete before her death in 1988.

Hunter’s subjects are usually memories of plantation life; weddings, funerals, baptisms, and cotton picking (lower right). In many of these works she includes a depiction of the “African House,” an old slaves’ quarters (designed and built by slaves; see below) on the grounds of Melorse. Painting in thick, expressive brush strokes, Hunter developed ways to enliven her works with color and composition. Rows of cotton pickers, for example, are often stacked vertically. She signed her work with her initials, writing the “C” backwards in deference to her mistress, whose initials were the same.

Few critics discuss her crucifixions, but they are her most powerful works. The one in our collection clearly shows a black woman on the cross, hands seemingly missing, suggesting mutilation. Blood drips from the nailed wrists and feet. She is flanked by angels signifying redemption. This is not an image you will forget any time soon.

Most critics refer to Hunter as a memory artist, and few of her paintings hint at the nature of her existence. Nor did she make much of it in the scores of interviews conducted with her over the years. Most of her work celebrates a good, long life.
But in a few pictures she quietly reminds us of the pain she must have witnessed and felt. Keep in mind that between 1882 and 1968, according to the Tuskegee Institute, 335 African Americans were lynched in Louisiana alone. Hundreds more, of course, in neighboring states. Clementine Hunter must have heard of these atrocities and, perhaps, alluded to them in her black crucifixions. Only when we establish this context can we appreciate the transcendent spirit of her art.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Hudson River Steamboat Collision, Kind of

The denizens of the Potters Hollow Tavern in Greene County, New York probably scarcely noticed the crudely painted river scene at their feet. Set into a panel about seven feet long, and mounted under the bar at the tavern, was a painting of the Hudson River complete with steamboats, mountains, grazing animals, and even a train in the foreground. If any of them chose to bend down and look closely at the painting, they might have realized that this was no ordinary day on the Hudson. They might even have seen that the work seemed unfinished, with odd pencil outlines behind the boat at the left.

This panel painting (now in the Fenimore Art Museum collection and seen here in our storage facility) is meant to depict a well-known local story about a collision on the Hudson River that occurred between the steamboats Charlotte Vanderbilt (seen here at the right in the photo above, and in the detail below) and the Yosemite (depicted on the left in the photo above and at the lower left of this post) on the night of July 14, 1882. Looking at the picture, anyone can see that there is no collision happening. That’s the point: the artist chose to depict a collision ABOUT to happen, for a very particular reason.

On the evening in question, the Charlotte Vanderbilt left Catskill Point and headed downstream for New York. She carried only the captain and his family along with the pilot. At a point on the river near Rhinebeck (55 miles south of Albany), the captain saw the lights of another vessel. The steam yacht Yosemite was running upriver at maximum speed. The Yosemite, however, was an ocean-going yacht and carried different running lights than the river boats. The captain of the Charlotte Vanderbilt misread the lights, thinking that the Yosemite was a steamer hauling two barges. At the last moment, he swerved to avoid the phantom barges, crossing right into the path of the Yosemite. The Charlotte Vanderbilt was sliced in half and sunk, but no lives were lost.

Why did the artist not depict the collision? Those pencil outlines on the left give the answer. They are, in fact, the phantom barges that caused the collision in the first place. The artist has used a novel way to show the regulars at the Potter’s Hollow Inn that those barges are not present; except in the mind of the captain of the Charlotte Vanderbilt. The case eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court, and was eventually decided in favor of the owner of the Charlotte Vanderbilt. With no loss of life, the cause of the crash was obviously a better drinking story than the effect.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Project, and You Heard it Here First!

My good friend Jackie Oak came to town this week to give a lecture about the Shelburne Museum and Electra Havemeyer Webb to the graduate students in my American folk art course. Jackie has been a great folk art scholar for decades; she curated the landmark exhibition “Face To Face: Milton Hopkins and Noah North” for the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, Massachusetts back in the 80s. It was a rich cultural history of folk art, reform movements, and westward migration.

Well, it seems Ms. Oak has a new idea for a folk art project, only this time she’s going to do it for the Fenimore Art Museum in 2012. It’s an idea that has needed to be done since the 1940s. That’s why I’m so excited.

Her subject will be one of the most interesting and influential folk artists of the 19th century. And one of the strangest. The exhibition and catalogue will be about William Matthew Prior.
Here are some facts about Prior to whet your appetite and let you know why this is going to be so exciting.

Prior (1806-1873) was born in Maine and learned to paint there, then moved to Boston where he and his in-laws and friends formed a large painting studio where they all worked in a similar style. It has taken scholars years to sort out who did what.

Prior was an ardent abolitionist, and did more portraits of African Americans than anyone else, and at a time when it was not always safe to do so. His portraits of black subjects include William Whipper from our collection at the upper right, Mrs. Lawson from the Shelburne Museum at the upper left, and Three Sisters of the Copeland Famiy above.
Prior was also one of the great folk painters of children, and often captured their likenesses in vibrant colors and lively compositions, such as the patriotic image of the Flye children at the left.

Prior was a follower of the religious leader William Miller; many of the portraits he painted were done with the artist’s firm belief that the world was going to end in 1844. The Fenimore Art Museum owns Prior’s portrait of Miller!

Prior was the first (and maybe the only) artist to develop a price scale and offer simpler portraits for ¼ price, thus making likenesses accessible to the working class.

Prior advertised that he could paint portraits “by spirit effect” and capture likenesses of people long dead, like ship captains lost at sea. His wife advertised as a clairvoyant.

There’s a lot more to the story, of course. And Jackie is the perfect cultural historian to bring it all out. But I wanted all of you to hear it here first. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yankee Stadium and an American Utopia

Another Yankee triumph. The perfect day to reflect on one of my favorite works by the New York City folk artist Ralph Fasanella. This large painting (60” x 60”) entitled “Night Game – Yankee Stadium” was painted in 1981 and was given to the Fenimore Art Museum in 2002 by Maurice Cohen of Detroit.

Fasnella spent a good part of his childhood in the Bronx, not far from Yankee Stadium. His father delivered ice on these streets, and he played sandlot baseball on vacant lots here in the 1920s. He came back to the Bronx in the 1960s, when he and two friends operated a gas station near the stadium.

Most of Fasanella’s paintings celebrate the joys and explore the hardships of working-class life. Working people, he felt, had the best communities and were more connected to people than to their houses or possessions. Life, Ralph often said, was people being together.
“Night Game – Yankee Stadium” is all about people being together. Thousands of them. Men, women, children. All races, all colors. All equal in their shared joy. Baseball as utopian vision.

But all is not well here. On the margins of the painting we see references to the Civil rights movement (at left) and a jail full of black youth. Graffiti, litter, decrepit buildings, abandoned cars. Brick tenements being destroyed in favor of gleaming corporate towers. Fasanella had a utopian vision of all people co-existing in peace, but he was not in denial.

It’s a measure of Ralph’s knowledge of people that the political messages of this painting (think 1981 and the Reagan Administration’s urban policy) don’t hit you in the face and make you walk away. When he worked as a union organizer in the 1940s, Ralph often got frustrated with other organizers who simply handed out leaflets. He would take workers to a ballgame. Politics could wait. People were more important.

This is a timely message for our partisan times. The Yankees, love them or hate them, are back, and making history in a new stadium. And today they have given us a perfect opportunity to set aside our differences for a moment and revel in a tradition that embraces us all like the walls of a great amphitheater.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Canal Runs Through It

I was in New York recently to attend the opening of the new exhibition of American genre painting, “American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915” at the Metropolitan and had the opportunity to spend some time in one of my favorite places, the American Folk Art Museum on 53rd Street. The museum has on display a feature exhibition on the life and work of landscape and marine painter Thomas Chambers, and the Fenimore Art Museum’s masterpiece by this artist, “Cold Spring and Mount Taurus from Fort Putnam” (above, oil on canvas, 34 1/8" x 49 1/2") is a highlight of the exhibition.

There were two statements by exhibition curator Kathleen Foster in the catalogue that gave me the ideas for this post. Foster rightly points out that Chambers’ bold and colorful painting style would have been right at home in a mid-1840s middle-class interior, and would have “echoed the boldly painted walls, patterned floor cloths or ingrain carpet, and faux-grained finishes of the interior.” This made clear that the availability of fancy goods had a large impact on the acceptance of Chambers’ artwork by his clientele.

The second statement was more speculative but no less compelling. Kathy noted the history of discovery of Chambers’ paintings in upstate New York cities such as Rochester and Syracuse, roughly due west of Albany, where the artist is known to have lived. There is no telling, of course, whether the artist, his paintings, or his clients followed this westward course, but when considered along with the previous idea about the availability of goods it called to mind a powerful historical context for understanding Chambers’ life and work in New York State, for this was the very path of the engineering marvel that transformed the economy and culture of New York; the Erie Canal.

The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 had a profound impact on many aspects of life in New York State, not least on a wide range of rural artists and artisans who provided artwork and consumer goods deemed essential to any proper middle-class home. A flood of settlers came from eastern New York, New England, and Europe, creating an expanded market and new freedom of expression.

The Canal solved logistical problems for some craft industries, such as stoneware and textiles. Increased economic activity fostered a demand for finer decorative arts as well as for portraits, landscapes, and townscapes. By allowing the importation of fine European goods, and stimulating local industries who could now export virtually anywhere, the Canal was responsible for providing a competitive atmosphere whereby folk artists had to innovate in order to thrive.

Chambers’ large, bold, and colorful works were perfectly suited for this expanded and sophisticated market. And he would not have had to travel far to see similar examples of fancy work being done by the folk artists of his time. This 1848 view of State Street in Albany by John Wilson (above, owned by the Albany Institute of History and Art) shows a profusion of elaborate painted signs, banners, and wagons (see detail at right). Chambers lived and worked on this very street from 1852 to 1857. For him, the wonders wrought by the Erie Canal were right outside his door.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Coming Soon: Your Chance to Curate

It was quite an October, way beyond my expectations. When I started this blog back in August my goal was to share some of the great stories about folk art that I had heard over the course of my 27 years studying the collection at the Feinmore Art Museum. In my wildest dreams I thought maybe 300 visits a month would be pretty good. If 300 people wanted to read what I wrote, that was wonderful.

With some help from a friend, Gary Myers, whose blog Redtree Times I highly recommend, I learned how to promote this blog. Sites like Alpha Inventions were very helpful. And the results have been astounding. In the month of October I had 1,150 visitors from 59 countries, a total of 3,341 visits and (this is what really floored me) more than 21,000 page views! The average visit lasted 24 minutes.

Someone out there must like reading this stuff. And as long as that is true, I'll keep writing it.

I do have one goal that I would like to share with you. As the Vice President and Chief Curator of the Fenimore Art Museum, I have a role in determining the exhibitions each year. In 2010 I would like to mount our first-ever blog-curated exhibition at the museum.

What is a blog-curated exhibition? That means YOU decide what goes in. Readers of this blog will have the opportunity to vote on their favorite posts, and the winners will be included (with the physical artworks, of course) in one of our main galleries in the spring.

Be thinking about it. Details on how to vote will announced soon. In the meantime, thank you all for sharing this experience with me. Be assured that there is more great stuff to come. Thank you also for your great comments; they are always welcome. For those of you who prefer a more private conversation, please send me an email at

Oh, and don't forget to keep your eyes open for those lost or forgotten artists or works in your own backyards. Good things come to those who look.
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