Saturday, July 24, 2010
There's nothing more romantic in the antique business than a country auction. The drive out to the country, the rolling hills of southeastern Michigan lush with rain and heat, the pleasant crackle of gravel under your tires and the prospect of treasure as yet exposed to the public spotlight. This auction however, held more emotional significance to me for this estate was that of a dealer I, and the rest of our antique community deeply respected and recently lost . Exceptionally bright, with exquisite modern and esoteric taste, Greg researched everything and had a collection I aspired to. Greg's interests and expertise were vast, from minerals to outsider art, from americana to modernism. And this auction was just the stuff they found in his basement! The more valuable items had already been whisked off to more serious markets. With not much money to spend on the heels of Brimfield Shows, I had to focus my energy on the folky, off-beat things of his that I truly loved. His business partner and long-time dealer friend of mine, Bob Ketelhut told me about this apple he had, a large "Claus Oldenberg" thing he knew I'd want, with the words "New York, NY" on it, delicious. I prayed I wouldn't be outbid by some of the heavier hitters I knew were in the house. I was also keen on a pair of spectacularly spooky pair of hand-carved sandstone gargoyles, a beautiful pencil drawing of a cowboy from the 30's and a whimsical articulated doll that would be a nice remembrance of Greg. At the risk of sounding really out there, I have to tell you a couple of things that happened last night that gave me pause and made me consider our proximity to those who have passed over to the other side. When I lined up to get my bidding number, the number that should have been mine was 63. As the auction staff was filling out the paperwork, I actually considered asking for the next place in line because 64 is the year I was born. Just a little superstitiousness on my part, but I let the silly thought go. What's in a number really? The attendant looked a bit befuddled just then, looked at the "63" card and inexplicably took the next card and handed me "64." I got a little jolt I tell you. Then, just as the auction was about to get underway, the sky grew black and a spectacular thunderstorm cracked over our heads with rain coming down so hard it was hard to hear in the barn. I miraculously got everything I wanted and at prices well below what I know Greg had paid for them. I think he would appreciate that I cared so much about his things. (I also know he would have been slightly miffed that they didn't go for more money-that being the measure of our craft) But, what I'd really like to believe is that he had some hand in the proceedings and meant for these things to come to me.