Published: Friday, October 19, 2007
Couple is sold on Butler art auction
For pictures from the auction, click here.
The live auction alone generated more than $60,000 for the Butler.
YOUNGSTOWN Sandy Leichtman, 62, and her husband Jeff Froechlich, 64, drove more than 300 miles from Baltimore for the auction Thursday at the Butler Institute of American Art.
The couple is accustomed to buying art at New York auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's. But Leichman said she wasn't disappointed by the 200-plus collection auctioned at the Butler Great American Art Auction.
"This has been a really, really fun experience," said Leichtman. "We're so glad we came ... We just think that you have a gem."
Close to 125 mostly local art enthusiasts and Butler supporters gathered in the museum's Beecher Court atrium for the evening's auction the museum's first in 15 years.
Auctioneer Jeff Byce bartered off 32 pieces donated from artists across the country. An additional 175 items were offered up for bid in a silent auction, as well.
The last time the Butler held an auction, the event proceeds were used to produce the museum's first catalog, a scholarly, high-gloss book entitled "Master Paintings." Now that catalog, published in 1994, is sorely out-of-date, said executive director and chief curator Louis A. Zona. The museum has added about 5,000 pieces to its collection since then, Zona said.
So, the museum has returned to the art community and the auction block with the goal of completing a new catalog by 2009.
"The dollars will go towards the hiring of scholars, the technical end of putting the book together, and some of the cost of publication," he said.
Preliminary figures indicate that the museum's ambition will be within reach. Artwork from the live auction alone generated $60,000, said Zona.
"The community really come through for us," he said. "It was really a great thing."
That support was mirrored by the art community, Zona said. All the pieces sold Thursday were donated by artists and brokers.
There was a painting from photorealist Don Eddy. "He is a real master," said Zona.
And, a lithograph from abstract expressionist Robert Rauschenberg. "He's considered by many to be the greatest living American artist," Zona said.
Even singer Tony Bennett, who paints under the name Tony Benedetto, contributed a print from his collection.
The event gave Boardman resident Dr. Constantine Economus, 40, his first chance to take part in a live art auction. He was the triumphant bidder in the contest for Al Hirschfeld's "Mary Poppins, Flying Over London" lithograph. It was an exhilarating experience, he said, and a rare taste of high culture in this town.
"Close your eyes and look around," he said. "You could be anywhere in the world, the artwork here ... These are things that don't always happen here locally."