Gallery Hopping in Dallas

In between projects we do our best to keep an eye on the local art scene and catch as many exhibitions as we can.  Texas has wonderful galleries that are showing everything from emerging artists to the established blue chip big hitters.  I was in Dallas yesterday and an appointment of mine fell through, so I took the opportunity to stop by galleries and catch a few shows.

Isabella du Toit’s show TRUCE at Cris Worley Fine Arts
I was able to get an early peek at the show that will open tomorrow, Saturday the 18th, and run until December 30th. 

"Markhor and Snow Leopard"  |  "Wolf and Fox"  |  "Snails and Ibis"

"Markhor and Snow Leopard"  |  "Wolf and Fox"  |  "Snails and Ibis"

Snippet of the show’s description: Isabelle du Toit’s finely detailed oil paintings of birds, insects and mammals, found on a stark deep background enhances the isolation and the fragility of these creatures. The artist starts each painting on a highly smooth and ground canvas, as to masterfully capture each stroke. Then, each animal is studied in the same academic manner as a biologist or ecologist. With each tuft of hair, vein, and patch of skin, all are meticulously captured in oil paint. The ever-present spotlight on her subjects both elevates their status, yet simultaneously alludes to an impending sense of encroachment. Within her work, Isabelle revels the overwhelming importance of animal conservation, and her desire to inform viewers about the vulnerability that many of these wild animals face.

Isabelle du Toit’s paintings in Truce hit a wonderful trifecta for art aficionados; there is the predator-prey commentary, animal lovers will instantly connect with the subject matter, and fans of photo-realism will marvel at her insanely detailed work.

I particularly enjoyed the predator-prey relationship in each painting.  An Ibis standing calmly while snails crawl on its beak and up its leg.  A wolf and a fox cuddled up next to each other.  A ram and a snow leopard staring out at the viewer, as if to ask what the big deal is. 

This is du Toit’s seventh time to show at Cris Worley Fine Arts. 

BUILDERS group show at Circuit 12 Contemporary
I stopped by Circuit 12 and was able to catch the gallery's owner, Dustin Orlando, who was kind enough to give me a tour through the current show. 

"Loud Speaker" by Katie Bell

"Loud Speaker" by Katie Bell

Snippet from the shows description: Builders brings together artists Katie Bell, Matt Kleberg, Keith Allyn Spencer, Marilyn Jolly, Alex Ebstein and Brad Tucker. Through traditional and expanded modes of painting, these artists consider building a crucial element of their process. Paintings peel and bulge off the wall, or recede into illusionistic spaces of the surface. Their works focus on the formal, but they often allude to moments of narrative, wit, and humor. Each artist acknowledges tropes of abstractionists throughout history, while forging their own visual language within the contemporary dialogue of painting.

""Rebuilders 1" and "Rebuilders 2" by Alex Ebstein  |  "Fingers" by Brad Tucker

""Rebuilders 1" and "Rebuilders 2" by Alex Ebstein  |  "Fingers" by Brad Tucker

Circuit 12 is always a fun stop for me because they represent and show emerging and mid-career artists who really have innovative approaches to the mediums they are working in; including new media works.  During my tour of the show, Dustin mentioned the gallery is planning a show of solely new media pieces in the near future.

I really liked the hand-cut yoga mat pieces by Alex Ebstein, they are fun and whimsical works that are a commentary on the artist’s relationship with her body and the world around her.  I also liked the large site-specific installation work by New York artist Katie Bell.  All her work is done with found objects she gets from around the site she will be assembling them; her work questions material as our visual language, why we discard it, and how we construct and build structures around us.

Builders runs through the end of November. 

JOHN ADELMAN - DRAWING: ATTN at Holly Johnson Gallery
My last stop was to catch John Adelman’s show at Holly Johnson Gallery.

"Malicious Mesasoma"  |  "Mycose"  |  "Mismetre"

"Malicious Mesasoma"  |  "Mycose"  |  "Mismetre"

Snippet from the show’s description: In Drawing: Attn Adelman continues to explore the material qualities of ink. Accumulative and compulsive, his compositions are strictly defined by a series of rules the artist sets for himself.  The works are diverse in scale, subject, and resources, and all created in a formula driven manner. The use of gel ink and the excessive layering of it produce rich, luxuriant surfaces transcending the utilitarian material. With his use of unconventional materials and his meticulous method, Adelman's work could easily be dismissed or overly simplified, if it weren't for the understated beauty in the results.

Before I saw this show, I already liked it; I am a fan of an artist prescribing a set of rules for a series.  When I did see the show, the pieces did not disappoint.  They reminded me a lot of Emil Lukas’ thread works – the pieces pull you in the same manner, making you get up close to see just what is actually happening on the surface. 

"42225 nails"  |  "28677"  |  "38307 nails"

"42225 nails"  |  "28677"  |  "38307 nails"

Drawing: Attn is up until December 23rd.

Three great shows; go see them while they are up!
Now, it’s back to the office and the stack of appraisals that need to be completed.

-M.P. Callender

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The Ninth Annual Dallas Art Fair

This was the ninth year for the Dallas Art Fair (DAF), and it is evident the art world wants a slice of what Dallas has to offer.  I say it each year – this fair is a great opportunity for both collectors and art aficionados to see and purchase some of the best in modern and contemporary art from all over the world.

This year the Fashion Industry Gallery, which has hosted the fair since its inception, welcomed over 90 galleries; a third of those galleries were exhibiting for the first time with DAF.   

"No. 73, 2017" by Derek Fordjour, selected by the DMA through the Acquisition Program

"No. 73, 2017" by Derek Fordjour, selected by the DMA through the Acquisition Program

The allure of the fair, and its strength to pull in galleries and artists from all over the world, is a combination of things; just the right mix of integral elements mingling together to make a powerhouse event.  One of those elements is the DAF’s connection and collaboration with the Dallas museums.

Last year the fair announced the Dallas Art Fair Acquisition Program.  In association with the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), the program gifted DMA $50,000 to purchase work by artists exhibiting at the fair.  This year the program doubled, utilizing a $100,000 budget to purchase works by artists Katherine Bradford, Derek Fordjour, Justin Adian, Andrea Galvani, Matthew Wong, and Summer Wheat.

Gavin Delahunty, the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, led the group that selected the artworks purchased through the program again this year.  “In what was a exciting afternoon with DMA colleagues and our generous donors, we acquired seven works by six outstanding artists,” Delahunty stated.  “The selection reflects the outstanding quality of work at the fair this year and its increasingly global attitude.” 

The city itself is another key element; Dallas is a city committed to the arts.  Important collectors, prominent Museums, and the local galleries supporting the fair by attending year after year, shows Dallas as an art community dedicated to establishing the city firmly on the map of art world hot spots.  That dedication and loyalty is why the DAF has been, and will continue, to be such a success.

"Dessert Buffet" by Robert C. Jackson

"Dessert Buffet" by Robert C. Jackson

"Scattering Ashes, 2017" by Miles Cleveland Goodwin

"Scattering Ashes, 2017" by Miles Cleveland Goodwin

I have to visit some of my favorite galleries every year, one of them being Gallery Henoch.  The New York based gallery represents some of the best realist artists currently working; paintings by Eric Zener, Janet Rickus, and Robert C. Jackson are among my personal favorites.

Valley House Gallery had a bigger space this year than in the past, showcasing works by the wonderful selection of artists they rep; pieces by Sederic Huckaby, Valton Tyler (who currently has a solo show at the Amon Carter Museum), Bart Forbes, and Miles Cleveland Goodwin – who just recently joined the Valley House roster – among others.

Alan Stone Projects, out of New York, had a whole wall of original Wayne Thiebaud works.

Wayne Thiebaud wall!

Wayne Thiebaud wall!

With over 200 art fairs a year, the DAF has established itself as a worthy stop on the competitive global fair circuit.  The loyalty of local galleries and collectors, and the growing number of international dealers attending each year, point to the fair’s pulse on the evolving contemporary art market.

We here at Signet couldn’t recommend this fair enough, fantastic show we are lucky to have in our town.

-M.P. Callender

Signet Art Goes to CVAD - Again!

In late March the Signet Art team went to The University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design (CVAD) to speak with an Art and Business Class.

The senior level course, taught by Lauren Cross, is designed as an, "introduction to how art, business and economics intersect in a variety of settings, both for-profit and non-profit."  Signet Art was asked to come speak as a business that does everything from art appraising and art consulting, to pre-purchase advise and brokering art at auction.  

Brenda giving her introduction

Brenda giving her introduction

Brenda Simonson-Mohle, our owner, founder, and appraiser, spoke first and told of her journey in the art world; from getting her degree in art, working in galleries, establishing Signet Art in 1987 and growing it into the business it is today.

Taking questions from the students

Taking questions from the students

Matthew Callender, our Vice President of Operations and a UNT alumni, spoke second and told of how he started out at Signet Art; first hired to answer phones, schedule appointments, and write blogs, and now - six years later - is the V.P. and is being trained and groomed as an art appraiser by Brenda. 

After the initial talks, there was a great Q&A time.  Students were able to ask questions and get answers and insights on the retail art world, which was a lot of fun!

This class is a wonderful opportunity for students who are looking to work in the business side of the art world.  We at Signet Art were delighted to be invited to talk and be a part of CVAD's vision to equip students with what they need to be successful once they graduate.

Signet Art Goes to CVAD

Last week The University of North Texas College of Visual Arts and Design (CVAD) held a seminar for students looking, or soon to be looking, for jobs in the Art World.  

Jobs in Visual Arts and Design: Panels and Workshops included four separate sessions, each with a panel of professionals from their respective field.  I was invited and asked to speak during the Creative Jobs in Art Institutions session from my capacity as an Art Consultant and as Vice President of Operations here at Signet Art.  As a UNT alum, I was delighted to be invited and happy to speak about what we do here at Signet Art.

On the panel with me were Consuelo Gutierrez and Kendal Smith-Lake. Consuelo is the Director of Membership and Programs at The Cedars Union; a non-profit in North Texas with the mission to ‘Provide studios and tools for creatives, foster a collaborative and supportive artist community, and advance the arts in North Texas.’  Kendal Smith-Lake is the Communications Manager at the Modern Museum in Fort Worth, one of the best museums in our state.

Each speaker gave a short presentation on how they got started in the art world, their journey to their current position, and a bit on what they do now.  As a panel, we then took questions moderated by Lauren Cross, Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Art and Design Studies at UNT, who organized the session.

It was a great experience and a lot of fun talking with students about what I get to do.  The Signet Art team will be back at CVAD later this month to speak during an Art and Business course on local art businesses in North Texas.

More to come on that later.

-M.P. Callender

Foundation for Appraisal Education: 2016 Conference

Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art - Wonderful collection! 

Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art - Wonderful collection! 

I have never met a good appraiser, and I have met a cruise-ship-load of appraisers, who was not a bit of an obsessed geek about their field.   You get a group of experienced appraisers together and the conversation could go hours on the benefits of a particular black light, the latest scientific testing methodology to determine authenticity, the last great museum or gallery show we saw or the latest buzz on fakes and frauds.   So, when I got the first notification of the FAE’s (Foundation for Appraisal Education) seminar offering and the topic was fakes and frauds, I jumped at the chance to head to Philadelphia for the conference.   These two-day seminars are always chock full of incredible speakers and are a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues while learning from the best. 

A convivial Italian dinner

A convivial Italian dinner

There were eighteen speakers in two days.  Yes, eighteen, and each one an expert in their field.  That is a testament to the hard work of the FAE’s Board of Directors and the generosity of Freeman’s Auction House, where the event was hosted.   The staff of Freeman’s was professional, kind and efficient.  Many thanks to them! The topics ranged from case law for fake art to connoisseurship of furniture, fake Chinese export porcelains, faked portrait miniatures and an introduction to the 19th C. French company Samson, where apparently all manner of ceramic and furniture “new antiques” were created to order for antiques dealers across Europe and America. 

Eileen Kinsella, Elle Shushan, and Joshua Kaufman, Esq.

Eileen Kinsella, Elle Shushan, and Joshua Kaufman, Esq.

As an art enthusiast, the highlights for me were the art topics.  Eileen Kinsella, a reporter for “ArtNet News,” covered some of the online fakes she had uncovered over the years.   These ranged from a man who sold over 60 faux Jackson Pollocks online before he was caught, to the online sellers of Keith Haring and Andy Warhol fakes.  One of the more amusing tales was of the fake Jeff Koons balloon dogs that can still be ordered in various colors from China.  The favorite technique of such online scams is to claim that a new cache of work by a well-known artist was found in a storage shed or at a charity resale shop near a location that the artist is known to have resided.   The dealers never make strong claims of authenticity and are relying on the buyer’s greed to make a sale.   Here is a hint, dear reader... don’t buy collectible artwork online, relying only on the descriptions and images posted by the online dealer.   If a deal looks too good to be true, it is.  That dealer will be out of business or onto the next scam before you discover you have been had.  

David Lindquist, Jennifer Mass, Ph.D., Adam Harris

David Lindquist, Jennifer Mass, Ph.D., Adam Harris

Elle Shushan, a Philadelphia dealer who specializes in portrait miniatures, gave an engaging talk on spotting fake ones.  Alasdair Nichol of Freeman’s Auctions reviewed the best-known 20th C. art fraudsters who have been caught and how their schemes were discovered.  Joshua Kaufman, Esq. of Venable, LLP in Washington, DC covered case law for art fakes.  I was surprised to find out that stolen art is the third largest property crime in the world, with guns and drugs being the top two.  Kaufman covered a few well-known art forgers.  He also covered the ways dealers avoid liability for their actions and the statute of limitations for the discovery of fraud.  Did you know that the statute of limitations for the discovery of fraud is only four years from the point of purchase?  Not from the point of discovery, but from the point of purchase.   Unfortunately, many art owners do not think to confirm the authenticity of the pieces they own until many years after the purchase when an objective third party (usually an appraiser) takes a fresh look at the piece and calls authenticity into question.  The owner has relied upon the reputation of the dealer, has purchased from that dealer because of their reputation and can be stuck with fake art because of such reliance. 

Kim Kolker, Courtney Christy, Terri Ellis

Kim Kolker, Courtney Christy, Terri Ellis

The recent famous case of the fake contemporary master paintings being sold by Knoedler Gallery serves as a cautionary tale.  Irina Tarsis, Esq. of the Center for Art Law, New York, NY, gave a synopsis of the Knoedler debacle.  When Knoedler closed suddenly in 2011 it had been in business under that name since 1857.  Prior to the unraveling, the name Knoedler was venerated, seen as close to a stamp of authenticity as one could get in the art market.  However, in 1994 the director, Ann Freedman, began getting in a cache of paintings from a new source.  Glafira Rosales introduced herself to Freedman as the representative of an heir to a large cache of contemporary art including such names as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and William de Kooning.  According to Rosales, the heir required absolute anonymity for himself but had a large collection of paintings for sale.  She sold the paintings to Knoedler for considerably under market values.  Knoedler made millions of dollars reselling over 60 contemporary master paintings in the next few years.   The scam began to fall apart in 2009 as some clients began to get outside opinions of the art and began to bring suit against Knoedler for fraud.   As it turned out, all the paintings were the work of a Chinese artist, Pei-Shen Quian, who worked from a studio in Queens, NY.

Appraisers out on the town

Appraisers out on the town

Apologies to the rest of the great speakers for this seminar.  My hope is that one of my colleagues whose specialty is antiques and residential contents will publish an article of their own, giving the well-deserved attention and praise to the speakers on those topics.  There is just not enough room in this format to be comprehensive.  

Matt Wilcox, Kim Kilker, and Ronald Fuchs

Matt Wilcox, Kim Kilker, and Ronald Fuchs

However, I do want to mention the one disappointment in the lineup of speakers as a cautionary tale to those who would be speakers.  I had looked forward to this speaker when I saw him listed on the brochure.  After all, I had seen him in very engaging segments on the Antiques Roadshow.  However, after passing out the glossy brochures about his gallery and his appraisal services, this speaker chose to get up on the dais and insult the audience with his lack of preparation and condescending tone.  After a brief introduction, no visuals, he was mercifully off the platform in less than fifteen minutes.  His only response to an audience question was to inform the questioner that he was welcome to visit the local library and look the answer up.  I have no idea why someone would accept a speaking engagement and then behave this way.   The room was filled with fellow appraisers.  This is exactly the sort of audience one would want to impress.  This audience was full of the sort of people who could call for an appraisal consult (a paid one) or pass a client-lead on to an appraiser with a specialty.   I will not mention the person by name and have left out his specialty.  But, I will offer a few general notes to those who are being asked to speak.  Before, you agree to do the engagement, know your audience.  Tailor your talk to their interests.  Consider the overall theme of the gathering and how your expertise ties in with that theme.  Then, by all means bring your ‘A’ game.   If you do not intend to take these suggestions, just decline the offer to speak.  

When in Philadelphia, you have to meet Ben Franklin

When in Philadelphia, you have to meet Ben Franklin

I arrived two days early for the conference to cram in as much site seeing as possible.  This included a hop-a-bus trip that stopped at the Barnes Foundation, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art and the Eastern State Penitentiary among other marvelous stops.  For those scratching their heads over why an art appraiser would care about an historic prison, it is a fascinating facility.  The construction started in 1821—the first penitentiary in the country.  And, I would recommend it as a stop if you are visiting Philadelphia.   Thanks to my incredible colleague, Cindy Charleston Rosenberg, our group also got a private tour of the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art, the oldest art school in America and one of the oldest collections of fine art open for view to the public. 

Lunch and learn time

Lunch and learn time

Four days of learning and enjoying ‘down time’ with long-time appraisal colleagues and friends… just the ticket to get my creative juices going.  Good thing because I returned to a pile of appraisal work that is calling for my attention.     Those are my notes from the road.  Hope you enjoy…

Brenda