The “Woodsmen” carefully removing the E.V. Shaw mural

We are pleased to offer a beautiful Cowan Pottery polychrome mosaic designed by Elsa Vick Shaw. The glazed ceramic tile mural titled “Egyptian Maidens” was saved from demolition by our specialist Bridget McWilliams and a small conservation team known as the “Woodsmen” from Vermillion OH. The home of Elsa Vick Shaw in Moreland Hills was scheduled to be demolished and Bridget received a call to rescue the mural. One of five known to exist, the glazed ceramic tile mural was submitted by Cowan Pottery to the 1930 Cleveland Museum of Art May Show where it was accepted and displayed amongst

1930 May Show

other favorable works of art as seen in this vintage photograph of the exhibition. From the museum intake sheet we can see that Cowan Pottery stated only 5 murals were created. It is the only piece created by Elsa for the Cowan Pottery Studio. She was a mural painter; the most well known example of her work is the series of ancient instrument mural paintings in the Grand Foyer of Severance Hall, the home of The Cleveland Orchestra. The Cowan Museum, located inside the Rocky River Ohio Library, has one of these mosaic murals prominently displayed at the entrance to the museum.

Another item from Elsa’s home is a beautiful clear glass sand blasted panel, made for the mural titled “Oceania”. She won a national competition to design this mural for the passenger ship S.S.President Polk, of the President Lines. The metal framed panel was one of 21 etched plate glass panels. There is another panel on display at Rose Iron Works, who sand blasted the design for the artist.

Potter and Mellen

While you’re here in the Gallery previewing the May auction collection, please take notice of our cherished display cases, designed by Horace Potter for Potter and Mellen. We haven’t been able to pinpoint a date of creation, but these cases were built in the store on Carnegie, so we believe ca. 1929-1933. Several were made and we are lucky to have three.

At Neue we recognize the importance of cherishing the history of Cleveland artisians past and present and passing title of ownership of their works to the next generation of collectors. We encourage the discussion of stewardship in collecting and welcome everyone to get involved.

 

Bridget McWilliams invited us into a another world of famous collectors’ homes on April 17th. The audience was diverse and engaged as Bridget spoke about the collecting styles of Gertrude Stein, Bunny Mellon and Yves Saint Laurent. Beautiful images of items were shown throughout her 20 minute talk and questions afterwards included inquiries as to what happened to these collections, were the artists collected personal friends of the collectors and relationships with the dealers and auction houses they frequented. Neue Presents is a monthly immersive evening, usually and hour and a half long on a Wedsnday at 6:30, of like-minded individuals who appreciate art and wish to learn more about art and collecting. Seating is limited and reserved in advance by rsvp to the gallery. Subscribe to our enews for gallery events to enrich your life and enjoy art.

You either love ’em or you don’t. I have yet to meet anyone who has a middle of the road opinion about Conover pots, but everyone sure seems to know about them. Many people purchased from Potter & Mellen on Carnegie Avenue when they had the windows filled with pots and the price back then was $500. Others received them as a gift or inherited from a family member. This is an introduction for those new to Conover pots.

Claude Conover (1907-1994) was a Cleveland ceramicist and 1983 Cleveland Arts Prize winner who devoted himself to the medium of stoneware in the 1960’s, turning out about 250 objects a year from his home studio. Self-taught in the medium and maintaining a rigorous work schedule, he constructed stoneware slabs into pots of various sizes and shapes, each with a unique pattern created by hand-made rollers and blades, sometimes finished with clay slip. Most are monochromatic in beige and tan, some with two colors. The pots range in size from stacked constructions and tall cylinders of approximately 37” down to table top vases, bowls and sculptural cats of 4”. The vessels were grouped and displayed at ground level, often decorated with branches, willow branches and dried money plants inserted into the clear plastic inserts that are typically missing today. All of his pots have his signature underneath and each piece titled with a unique name.

There are dealers for his work from coast to coast and Cleveland is home to some of the best pottery found. Savvy buyers with a keen eye for MCM before it became a design trend, were able to buy these pots for a tenth of what they sell for today. Sales data on Askart.com shows his ceramic pots peaked in 2010 and again between 2017 and 2018. However the highest recorded price at auction was in 2015 for $37,220.00 at an auction house in Paris. Many of the pots I’ve encountered were acquired by the baby-boomer generation who had no idea how collectable and desired these stoneware vessels are today. When told about the value, many people will part ways with it, and I’ve meet others who are not quite ready to let go. The Gen Xers seem to be the most keen on buying a Conover pots. Being of this generation myself, I find these pots invoke my youth; the colors and shapes of 60’s decorative arts. We are however seeing the most interest in ownership by young professionals interested in decorated in the MCM style who are looking for timeless pieces.

Conovers’ work may be found in fifteen public collections; our beloved Cleveland Museum of Art has five in it’s permanent collection. Most Conover pots are found at auction where the bidding is competitive. Rarely are they found at estate sales anymore because most look up the artist on the internet. Once they’re over the sticker-shock of retail prices, people tend to reach out to a credible local dealer or auction house to bring their Conover pot to the world market. At Neue Auctions we are offering a few in the up-coming May Fine Art and Antiques auction. We invite you to visit the gallery and tell us about your Conover pot and the story of how you came to own it, what it may be worth now, and the opportunities to sell or insure it for future generations to enjoy.

Last week I was talking to my beautiful, smart, and always funny friend Liz McGarry, most likely about something (naturally) not work-related such as our favorite podcast My Favorite Murder or the world of witchcraft in general; and it didn’t take long for the conversation to derail into her newly adopted, Instagrammable cat, Cronkite.

Liz, who had recently moved to a new apartment, was showing me a picture of the stunning Cronkite when I happened to notice the artistically decorated walls right behind him. Liz confessed that after she had put together this arrangement of photos, lithographs, and paintings, this corner had rapidly become her favorite spot in her new apartment.  She was inspired by the talent that one of her eccentric aunts had for collecting instant ancestors.  Instant ancestors, as Liz’s aunt puts it, entails collecting portraits, of sometimes famous people, to feature around one’s house, while referring at them as relatives.  Occasionally, the new additions to Liz’s family, which included movie stars, famous politicians, and the random unavoidable royalty, would even be accompanied by stories and detailed bloodlines.

Although extremely fun, her aunt’s perspective is not all that outlandish.  Initially, when I started working in antiques, I was surprised by the willingness of people to sell their ancestors’ pictures, while I was equally surprised by someone else’s proclivity to buy them. The buyer in most cases would not get to know anything about the behind-the-glass person that he or she was bringing home.

Watching the new season of Instant Hotel on Netflix over the weekend, good taste doyenne, Juliet Ashworth reminded every contestant that houses without portraits are somehow soulless and feel unloved, looking like a hotel, which despite the name of the show is something to be avoided.  Ms. Ashworth, (who queer scholar Karen Tongson from PopRocket once identified as the Lisa Vanderpump of Australia’s reality tv), definitively uncovered something that I had not been able to pinpoint before; there are some spaces that lack personality and a portrait is a good tool to turn a room around and make it instantly more interesting.  I would like to think that my admired imaginary friends at the podcast Las Culturistas, would make this Rule of Culture #330.

Our March 2019 Auction, with live online bidding and lots closing tomorrow, includes some spectacular antique and vintage drink ware and accessories. Even if you don’t partake in hard beverages, these one-of-a-kind finds are of extremely high quality, beauty and style. If you haven’t outfitted a spot in your home yet, here is your chance!  

First start with the bar itself. Perfect for the task is this English Mahogany Butler’s Tray on Stand, (Lot 541, estimate $200-400).

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/69530725_english-mahogany-butler-s-tray-on-stand

Lot 541

The butler’s tray form was developed in Britain in the 1700’s; the name is self explanatory. Made to be portable and flexible for the butler to serve from, today it is a handsome addition in warm mahogany to the modern house. Our tray dates to 1800.

Designed to create an impressive display, next consider these incredible decanters from the early 20th century. (Lot 280, estimate $100-200).  

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/69530162_pair-of-heavy-cut-crystal-faceted-decanters

Lot 280

Decanters come in many styles and sizes. These are of multi-faceted form and have incredible light reflecting properties.  Likely from the early 20th century, they have an Art Deco or International Style feel. They also feel great in the hand.

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/69530163_cranberry-cut-glass-decanter

Lot 281

To add some color and sparkling beefy substance, examine this Cranberry glass decanter (Lot 281 estimate $100-200).  Large in scale and heavy in weight, this finely cut piece will enhance your bar set up by just being there, and make pouring that cocktail for a friend extra fun.

Next add this very large set of Wheel Carved Crystal Glasses, (Lot 274, estimate $500-800, with a starting bid of $50!), they will surely inspire mixology experimentation, and are finely carved with various botanical species for your inspection.

Lot 274

Above it all, why don’t you choose this elegant Henri Matisse linocut print to hang over the whole  arrangement? It can be a gorgeous signal that it’s time for fun! (Lot 100, estimate $800-1200).

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/69529982_henri-matisse-linocut

Lot 100

Auction begins tomorrow at 12 noon, hope to see you online, even better if you grab a cocktail…..bottoms up!……..

 

For questions about our sale or any of the items featured please contact us at contact@neueauctions.com  or 216-245.6707. We are happy to answer questions, advise and assist you with bidding. 

After the basic human needs of food, clothing, and shelter are met we seek to adorn in our homes and most intimately our bodies. The impulse for decoration and adornment has existed since time immemorial. Surely part of the display is to enhance the status of the person, but there is a deeper more significant need for adornment that is psychological- an expression of ourselves and personality – an expression of the way we see the world and our engagement with it. Our hunger for beauty is ultimately  a search for harmony – whether through tattoo, clothing, or jewelry, our bodies are the canvas for our most intimate of expressions.

At Neue you are encouraged to follow your passions and given helpful advice from our knowledgeable staff along the way to help you develop your eye. One of my personal passions is jewelry. I like to fantasize that I may have been a Maharaja in a former life – one can dream:) While the price of precious stones (diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire) may leave some with sticker shock the beginning collector may find pleasure and affordability in equally beautiful semi precious stones.  Their virtue is not only in their apparent market value as an investment but practical as it can be worn.  Many stones also have metaphysical properties which benefit the wearer. For example, citrine draws  wealth and jade is a stone of strength and virtue and is gifted as a token of one’s esteem. So investigate the properties you aspire to or virtues you are trying to cultivate and follow your bliss and buy the best you can afford!

 

The 2019 Neue Gallery Presents season began with me speaking on the topic of Collecting 101. We had a lively crowd who enjoyed light bites and wine before we gathered around the front of the gallery. I was prepared to talk about facets of collecting that would be of interest to beginners, but after spending time with our guests, I discovered that most were seasoned collectors, so I quickly switched gears. In fact, June Greenwald was in the audience, how was I supposed to speak to this iconic woman who sat at the helm of her family antiques business for decades? What happened naturally was wonderful: we all began sharing stories about great auction buys, estates sales and stories from the old White Elephant Sale that was held every year in Cleveland. It was a reunion and a “best of” conversation for collectors!

I started with a story of a gorgeous antique Caucasian carpet that was part of the display at the White Elephant sale. It wasn’t the focus of the display; it was beneath items on display. I first walked, no, ran past it as I entered the sale. I made a hard stop after processing what I had seen and asked a volunteer to help me dismantle the lovely display so I could quickly roll it up and claim it. At this event you couldn’t make a pile of goodies and continue shopping unless someone you knew well worked there would watch your new found treasure. It was best to look out of yourself here and I carried my intended purchases around until check-out. I remember paying $600 for the carpet and that was a lot in 1995. I sold that carpet a few months later for $6000 to a prominent carpet dealer in Cincinnati. I didn’t become a carpet collector from the experience, but the extra cash certainly encouraged me to keep learning.

The next Neue Gallery Presents event will be presented by Bridget McWilliams and she’ll be talking about great collectors and how to live like one. Please join us  4/17 at 6:30 for an educational and fun evening with the Neue Auctions team.

We are thrilled to include this stunning work of art in our Spring auction. Sir Anthony Caro is one of Britains’ most distinguished artists. Known for his metal-smithed abstracted sculptures, Caro veered from his well known style to rediscover drawing and clay modeling in the summer of 1983, which resulted in a surprising collection of figurative works in the middle of his six decade career. This bronze, titled “Figure in Thought” created in 1987, is Concetta Branson, a professional model whom Caro sketched in the evenings at Triangle Workshop. He enjoyed this exercise so much that he sculpted her in clay the very next year. Drawing and modeling from life was a process Caro hadn’t enjoyed since his early academic career at the Royal Academy. Caro cast a series of seven life-size bronzes of Branson, each pose slightly different than the next. The poses were somewhat by chance because Caro focused on the process of creating art rather than the finished piece. Thus, he would drop handfuls of soft clay from a height and let them fall where they may on a platform. The rough and pitted surface invites us to consider the small crevices and shadows that make up the overall form. “Figure in Thought” is centered length-wise, facing forward with hips turned to the side, with a blue-green over black patina. It is listed in the Blume 10 volume Caro catalog raisonne, volume 8, #A-190. Though we known the name of the model, this faceless figure represents any woman and every woman in a relaxed moment lacking self awareness.

While buying art at auction isn’t the only way to purchase art, antiques and other unusual items, it is a fun and exciting way to begin your collection or to add to what you already have. While there can be a bit of learning curve, once you feel the adrenaline rush of competitive bidding you may become hooked. Here are 7 reasons why you should buy at auction

1. Constant Learning: Every auction brings together a diverse grouping of articles, often from random sources. This happenstance gives the auction goer an opportunity to see, inspect and buy items they may have been unfamiliar with, expanding your knowledge. Auction catalog descriptions are a great source of information.

2. First hand inspection : When you visit a museum you are not able to touch, inspect and handle works of art, but at an auction preview, you are! This up close, first hand inspection increases your understanding of the way an artist or artisan made something. Each time you inspect something by holding it your hands you add to your store of knowledge.

3. Unexpected Finds: Perhaps you wouldn’t have known that you were cuckoo for Paris Street scenes or Majolica Oyster Plates if you didn’t run across them at an auction preview. This can send you on a whole new collecting journey.

4. Support of Auction House Specialists: You are not alone. The specialists at the auction house are knowledgeable about the items being offered and are happy to answer questions about condition, authenticity, value, provenance and anything else you might wonder about. They are happy to advise.

5. Variety of Price Ranges: While you may hear about world record auction prices for a Basquiat or Matisse, auctions are a great source of affordable prices and bargains too. Why buy mass manufactured furnishings online when you can have a handmade piece with unique style for much less?!

6. Reuse/Recycle: Not much explanation needed here, when you buy at auction you help save the planet.

7. The Hunt, the Chase and the Possible Win: Sometimes the search is half the fun, but once you’ve found that wished for object or piece, you get to participate in competitive bidding, which always gets the heart pounding. The best way to win your lot is to bid live online as the lot sells. That way if you need to go beyond your limit a bid or two to achieve success you can assure yourself of a win.

Say YES! to the Auction!

Everyone wants recognition in some form or another; a kind word, flowers, a gift and often times a trophy if the circumstance affords it. Trophies are a reminder of an event for a special achievement. I love big old trophies from long ago for sporting events that nowadays, not many people still participate, such as Badminton and Croquet although we always played a hearty game of “wickets” when Uncle John and Aunt Wanda would visit.

To my delight, my business partner and friend Ron brought into the gallery a wonderful variety of vintage trophies for auction. Now, many are plated silver and some sterling silver, but that doesnʼt matter to me or to any collector of these handled chalices. For me itʼs the when, where and sometimes the why. I prefer antiques trophies or vintage ones from somewhere fancy like a well known private club that Iʼll never have membership, or even better, from Cleveland. It doesnʼt matter that much what the event was that the winner dominated, but the more obscure the better.

For the upcoming Spring auction, we have paired up a few of these lovelies to bid on and the winner definitely gets a trophy, or two. Many of these are more than 100 years old and are from the Cleveland Athletic Club, one from a competition at Luna Park and another from The Plain Dealer. Many are for relays and track, another for skating. I really love the three handled loving cup awarded by the Irish Society. Each one is beautifully engraved and dated.

Besides putting a little bit of history on display from places now long gone in your own cabinet, you can use a trophy as a vase for flowers or as an ice bucket. Iʼm trying to bring back the age-old etiquette of hostess gifting; a little something to give your host and hostess for the lovely evening youʼll undoubtedly have. I know many of my Cleveland friends would be grateful to receive one of these beauties with flowers.