Saturday, October 02, 2004

Artworks Rushed to Auctions as Houses Expect Heated Sales

Art collectors opening their mailboxes this month will find auction
catalogs bursting with famous images. There is Brancusi's sculpture
"The Kiss," shown recently at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; a
Modigliani portrait so loved by its owner that she has repeatedly
refused to lend it for any museum exhibitions; "0 Through 9," a 1961
Jasper Johns drawing from one of the artist's best-known series; and
Andy Warhol's 1963 Pop image of race riots in Birmingham, Ala.

Sensing that a heated market may soon reach its peak, collectors have
consigned hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of artworks for the
November sales at New York's auction houses. Sotheby's and Christie's
say the estimated sales totals are the highest in nearly 15 years.

Sanjeev Narang


email: ask (at) eConsultant dot com

Friday, October 01, 2004

Richard Avedon, the Eye of Fashion, Dies at 81

Richard Avedon, whose fashion and portrait photographs helped define
America's image of style, beauty and culture for the last
half-century, died yesterday in a hospital in San Antonio. He was 81
and lived in Manhattan.

The cause was complications of a cerebral hemorrhage suffered last
Saturday, said his son, John. Mr. Avedon was in Texas on assignment
for The New Yorker magazine, which hired him in 1992 as its first
staff photographer. He had been working on a portfolio called
"Democracy,'' an election-year project that included coverage of the
presidential nominating conventions.

Mr. Avedon's photographs captured the freedom, excitement and energy
of fashion as it entered an era of transformation and popularization.
No matter what the prevailing style, his camera eye always found a way
to dramatize its spirit as the fashion world's creative attention
swayed variously from the "New Look" of liberated Paris to pragmatic
American sportswear designed in New York, and from the
anti-establishment fashion of London's Carnaby Street to
sophisticated, tailored dresses and suits from Milan.

Picking up the trail of such photographic forerunners as Martin
Munkacsi, Mr. Avedon revolutionized the 20th-century art of fashion
photography, imbuing it with touches of both gritty realism and
outrageous fantasy and instilling it with a relentlessly experimental
drive. So great a hold did Mr. Avedon's fashion photography come to
have on the public imagination that when he was in his 30's he was the
inspiration for Dick Avery, the fashion photographer played by Fred
Astaire in the 1957 film "Funny Face." In 1978 he appeared on the
cover of Newsweek while a retrospective exhibition of his work was on
display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sanjeev Narang


email: ask (at) eConsultant dot com

TAM Docents Coffee = Third Thursday = 10/21/04 5:00pm UWT Starbucks

Hello Fellow Docents,

A gentle reminder that this month's TAM Docents Third Thursday coffee will be at
the same place (UW Tacoma Starbucks), same time (5:00pm), with the
same "No Agenda" and same "No RSVP Required" policy as the last few
times !

Day: Third Thursday
Date : 10/21/04
Place : UW Tacoma Starbucks
Time: 5:00pm +

The museums will be open free and late; the galleries will be open; we
can take the train to the theater district. No agenda is good freedom.

This message also goes to the new class of docents:
Welcome! Please join us for coffee and conversation ... we meet at the
Starbucks and "play it by the ear" from there - Glass Musuem / History
Musuem / Broadway / RampART etc.

(I'll send out a gentle reminder in the third week.)

Sanjeev Narang


email: ask (at) eConsultant dot com

Monday, September 27, 2004

NYTimes: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl - ((4 Years Old!))

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - The hottest new abstract artist in town has reason
to celebrate.

This summer, she went from selling her work in a coffee shop to having
her own gallery show.

After a local newspaper's feature on her, about 2,000 people came for
opening night - everyone from serious collectors to the artist's
preschool teacher. She earned more money than she could comprehend.
The gallery owner said it was his most successful show ever and
scheduled a second one for October.

So celebrate, the artist did. During a recent visit, she climbed on a
big bouncing ball shaped like a frog, grabbed the handles and bounced
around the house with laughter pealing and pigtails flying.

The artist is Marla Olmstead. She is 4.

Her preschool teacher hasn't taught Marla much of anything yet. And
nobody wants her to - at least when it comes to painting.

"I think Marla is as gifted as any child I've ever seen," said Anthony
Brunelli, the Fine Arts gallery owner in Binghamton, who is displaying
Marla's work. "I don't think she's aware of what she's doing. I think
it comes from within."

Marla uses bright acrylic paints, which she brushes, splatters and
scrapes on large canvases to create art that commands attention. She
sometimes works on one piece for days at a time. When she decides she
is finished, she gives her paintings titles like "Dinosaur," or
something reminiscent of a bedtime monster. Then she leaves the
grown-ups to see images and meaning.

In the beginning, her parents said, people bought her work without
knowing her age. Then customers bought it because of her age. Some say
she is a prodigy. Some say she is just playing. Her parents are
sensitive to criticism that has not been voiced yet - at least not to
them. They do not push her to paint or tell her how to do it, they
said, and they do not spend a penny of her growing bank account. If
she decides she wants to stop, she will stop.

Marla's father, Mark Olmstead, a manager of a Frito-Lay manufacturing
plant, was the first artist in the house. "You know how some parents
put their kids in front of a TV to keep them occupied?" said Mr.
Olmstead, an amateur painter. "Well, I let her paint, so I could

She first picked up a brush when she was 1, painting on an easel. Then
her dad would put her on top of the dining room table and let her
paint on canvases. "Soon after, I was letting her paint and I was
watching," Mr. Olmstead said.

By age 3, Marla's paintings caught the attention of a family friend
who wanted to display them in his coffee shop. "We didn't put any
prices on it or anything," Mr. Olmstead said. "We just thought it was

When customers asked to buy Marla's first large canvas painting, the
artist's mother, Laura Olmstead, who works part-time as a
receptionist, priced it high, she thought - $250 - so it wouldn't
sell, because she had a sentimental attachment to it. It sold the
first day.

"She has no concept of money," her mother said. "She was really into
lip gloss, so I told her it was enough money to buy a whole room of
lip gloss."

This spring, a friend of Mr. Brunelli's bought one, and brought it to
him at the Fine Arts gallery. Mr. Brunelli is a painter whose
photorealistic works are displayed in SoHo. He was drawn to Marla's
work. He and his friend stared at it like children staring at clouds,
seeing flamenco dancers and their vivid movements on the canvas.

Then the friend told him the artist was a toddler. "I admit I was a
little skeptical at first," Mr. Brunelli said.

He discovered Marla's father was his high school classmate. A week
later, he visited the family, scrutinized more of Marla's work and
watched a video of her painting. He bought one for himself and gave up
his August vacation so he could organize her show.

"When I'm in Marla's presence, there's a weird little feeling 'cause I
know there's something inside this girl that many artists look for
their whole lives and never have," Mr. Brunelli said. "But it's in
this little 4-year-old."

Another person equally impressed was Stuart Simpson, a California
businessman who was working in Binghamton when he heard about Marla.
Mr. Simpson was the first person at her show, arriving before it
opened. He bought three pieces, including one called "Bottom Feeder."

"I typically don't like abstract as a rule," Mr. Simpson said. "Don't
tell Tony, but I would have paid any price for 'Bottom Feeder.' "

Mr. Simpson and his wife own paintings by Renoir, Monet and Manet.
They have a space picked out for Marla's work now, too.

Others scoffed. "If I didn't know a 4-year-old child had done it, I
wouldn't take notice," said Yvonne M. Lucia, who turned down Marla's
work for the feminist exhibition, Rude and Bold Women, to be on
display in October at the Y.M.C.A. in Binghamton.

Another artist, Orazio Salati, said: "I think her ability is her
desire to paint, her excitement and the opportunity to play. There's a
lot of finger-painting in the process."

Parents of other budding artists have besieged Mr. Brunelli. "They'd
never produce that, never," he said of the other children.

As for the skeptics, he said, "People wouldn't be buying the work if
the work wasn't exceptional."

In all, Marla has sold 24 paintings totaling nearly $40,000, with the
prices going up. Her latest paintings are selling for $6,000. Some
customers are on a waiting list.

Laura Olmstead still gets teary-eyed when her daughter's work sells.
She would rather keep it herself.

"It's beautiful whatever your child does," she said.

Sanjeev Narang


email: ask (at) eConsultant dot com

Sunday, September 26, 2004

NYTimes : The Shock of the New Entry Fee

An article in the NYTimes about the entrance fees to MoMA :

"They will raise the basic price of admission an eye-opening 67
percent, to $20, making MoMA the most expensive major art museum in
the United States."

Sanjeev Narang


email: ask (at) eConsultant dot com