Sometimes art jumps out and finds us unexpectedly. I never go to an estate sale or thrift shop intending to buy art.
Mass produced and generic pieces comprise most of what we see. Then every so often, we stumble upon something worthwhile. David and I have managed to find a few quirky pieces which are literally hanging around our house. I’m sure some of the art will make it into our booth at Avonlea Antiques and Design Gallery once wall space clears. See what you think.
Cashmere by Antoinette Letterman
Years ago, my son, Michael, and I came face-to-face with this giant, languid, Himalayan white cat on the wall at our vet’s office. Michael quoted the line Rose purrs to Jack in the movie Titanic: “Draw me like your French girls, Jack.”
We didn’t buy our vet’s picture. Instead, we found another Cashmere in a local shop and eyed her for over 2 years. Originally priced at $1,100, the dealer offered a phenomenal discount the day we bought her. Perhaps because we also bought a couple of pieces of furniture, or perhaps because a 5′ painting of a cat requires commitment, wall space, and a certain sensibility.
To give you a sense of size, this framed canvas rests on a triple dresser. I added the bowl for perspective, then decided to insert 15-pound Boston, my big boy.
Cashmere’s history is layered. I first found this comment on a thread:
The typical “Letterman” painting is not a painting at all. Most of them were manufactured (using a silkscreen-like process) in the Far East (China or perhaps the Philipines) during the 1970s and sold at JC Penney for a retail price of $150 to $400 dollars.
The original artist was typically a “company man” or woman and therefore not acknowledged. They were contract or salary employees whose work-product became property of the company they worked for.
Their work was copied much like a computer graphics image is used (copied) to create T-shirts using multi-colored passes and a silk-screen pattern.
The “signature” is typically blocked style letters with the lower (horizontal) portion of the L extended under the ‘etter’ part of the word Letterman.
If you’re a collector of “That 70’s Show” paintings.. these might have some nostaligic value. 🙂 but otherwise, they are simply quality (cleanable) oil PRINTS that are hard to find at a reasonable price today.
The canvas is usually medium to good quality and the frames are lower quality (soft) wood and almost always painted and sometimes trimmed with plastic/metallics as well.
For those who may be skeptical.. simply compare two similiar paintings and the evidence will be apparent. Right down to the “simulated” brush-strokes possible with silk-screen technology.
One could stand in the isle of Penney’s and choose paintings of the same image from a choice of different sizes and even different color schemes.
Further research led me to artist Antoinette Letterman. She claims — and I believe her — she met Cashmere in Pennsylvania and painted her for her owners. The artist later moved to Texas and painted a second Cashmere.
Allegedly, Letterman’s image of Cashmere was stolen and reproduced for the mass market. Supporters urge folks to give Antoinette proper attribution. She liquidated her art stock around 2007, so I’m uncertain if she still conducts business.
I have no idea whether we have an original Letterman or a print. Since there are only 2 originals, I’d say that’s a long shot. But either way, we love Cashmere.
I liked this realistic beauty as soon as I saw her but the estate sale had her priced at $300. By day 3 the price dropped by 50% — still too high. Weeks later, I came across the lioness in another shop at an affordable price. I can’t make out the signature, but doesn’t that frame add to the lioness’ majesty?
Cubist Lute and Bowl of Fruit by Salvador Mestre
David and Michael carried this colorful cubist style art home. The artist, Salvador Mestre, used copper wires to contain the enamel or epoxy paint, creating cloisonné. Alas, my cursory research to date reveals nothing on this 20th century artist.
Hot Air Balloon
This arrived with the Salvador Mestre piece, but there’s no name. It appears very similar in style with its copper wire and enamel. I can’t verify that it’s by Mestre. I like the warmth of the metal background and the patchwork pattern of the balloon.
Boats – Oil Painting by K. Gastarini
An Impressionistic oil painting of boats signed by K. Gastarini offers a yellowing sky and turquoise sail, all reflected in the water. We found this in a bedroom furnished with French Provincial furniture at an estate sale. I think the yellow band on the frame is a bit much, but I enjoy the painting. More research needed on the artist.
A closer look:
This concludes the viewing of a portion of our quirky art collection. Now, we collected these pieces over the last 2 or 3 years with the intention of putting them into our booth. It takes time to acquire, and time for space to become available on our booth’s walls.
But remember, when you’re not looking for art, it will find you.
Ann Marie and David