Eclectic mix of American Folk Art offered at Slotin Auction, Nov. 8

Nearly 1,000 lots of American folk art, in an eclectic mix of genres, will be sold on Saturday, Nov. 8, by Slotin Auction, the same firm that operates the enormously popular Folk Fest event each summer. The November auction will feature the self-taught art collection of Barbara Louviere; the Santos collection of Chuck and Jan Rosenak; Florida Highwaymen artwork; and more.

“American folk art is the only art form I can think of that’s not influenced by European masters or the academic community,” said Steve Slotin, who founded Slotin Auction with his wife Amy after they discovered some folk art pieces while on their honeymoon in 1994. “When you think of the South, you think of blues music and Southern cooking. But folk art is a great visual culture and a truly original art form.”

Barbara Louviere also began collecting in 1994, when she bought a painting by the legendary folk artist Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980). Four years later, she opened the Barbara Louviere Folk Art Gallery in the New Orleans French Quarter. When she and her husband moved to Europe in 2001, her collection of over 200 important works of art went into storage. It has remained there ever since.

Four works by Sister Gertrude Morgan, three of them from Ms. Louviere’s collection, will come up for bid at the sale. The work expected to generate the most interest is a framed mixed media piece done around 1968 and inscribed, “Sister Gertrude Morgan with her first little of children when she was crowned out in 1957” (estimate $20,000-$25,000). 1957 is the year Gertrude has said she married Jesus.

Chuck and Jan Rosenak are world-renowned folk art experts and the authors of The Saint Makers, a tribute to the Santeros and Santeras who are responsible for a Renaissance of religious art in the Southwest. Nearly all of the Santos in the Rosenak’s collection have been in one or more prominent museums, to include the Frost Museum in Miami and the De Paul University Art Museum in Chicago.

Pieces in the Rosenak collection include Frank Applegate’s Christ With Banner (circa 1925, estimate $5,000-$8,000); Applegate’s Santo Nino de Atocha; Luis Tapia’s Pieta (circa 1996-97, estimate $3,000-$5,000); David Nabor Lucero’s John the Baptist (1998, estimate $2,000-$4,000); Gustavo V. Goler’s San Lorenzo (1998, estimate $2,000-$4,000); and Felix Lopez’s Lady of Guadalupe (1997, estimate $2,000-$4,000).

Over 40 original paintings by the renowned Florida Highwaymen were consigned by a prominent Florida collector. The Highwaymen is the name given to a loosely associated group of young African-American artists living in the Fort Pierce area of Florida from the 1950s through the 1970s. They were so-called because they’d sell their paintings – often still wet – on the side of the highway.

The paint surface was inexpensive roofing material, or whatever else was handy. The painters (all men, except for one woman, Mary Ann Carroll) latched onto art as a way to escape a more grueling fate: picking or crating oranges in the local groves. The Highwaymen sold their paintings for whatever tourists would pay (usually about $25), but they were talented, and today their works are highly prized.

Highwaymen represented in the Slotin auction include Alfred Hair, Sam Newton, Lemuel Newton, James Gibson, T. Newton, Livingston Castro Roberts, Isaac Knight, R.A. McLendon, John Maynor, H. Foster, Al Black, Willie Daniels, Charles Chico Wheeler, Robert Lewis, Myk Stalter and Ms. Carroll. Their work is primal and raw, depicting idyllic views of the Florida landscape of the era.

No Slotin Auction would be complete without rare and interesting pottery pieces, and this one will be no exception. Star lots promise to be 10 pieces by the late Lanier Meaders, including a face jug with china plate teeth (circa 1960s, estimate $4,000-$6,000); a pair of like-new ceramic owls by D.X. Gordy (estimate $1,000-$2,000); and a large set of stoneware dirt dishes by Ben Owen (estimate $1,000-$2,000).

The sale will also feature Part I of the Harold T. Walker devil face jug collection (about 50 pieces); numerous works by other members of the prolific Meaders family; early face jugs by Marie Rogers (estimate $800-$1,200); a face jug with china teeth by E.J. Brown (estimate $2,000-$3,000); a large devil with snake jug by Billy Ray Hussey (estimate $1,000-$1,500); and dozens of other collectible examples.

Howard Finster is another name synonymous with Slotin, and about a dozen of the late artist’s works will be offered. One, a painting titled Time Waits for Nothing (1985, estimate $10,000-$15,000) is one of the largest ever produced by Finster: over four feet on each side. Other works include a triple-pane glass box with self-portrait (1979, estimate $2,000-$3,000) and Early Elvis at Three (estimate $1,000-$2,000).

Two works by Bill Traylor (1854-1947), who Steve called “the mack daddy of folk artists,” will cross the block. One, a self-portrait depicting the artist with a cane and executed with graphite and chalk on cardboard, in an archival frame, should fetch $20,000-$25,000. The other is a pencil and gouache on cardboard box top of a lamp, last sold at auction through Sothebys (estimate $15,000-$20,000).

Also slated to come under the gavel will be a carved limestone statue by William Edmonson (1870-1951), titled Squirrel Holding a Nut (estimate $35,000-$45,000); a paint and glitter on bas-relief wood carved panel by Elijah Pierce (1892-1984), titled Jesus Walking on Water (estimate $10,000-$20,000); and a painted wood carving by S.L. Jones (1901-1997), Preacher With Bible (estimate $8,000-$12,000).

Additional noteworthy pieces include three works by William Hawkins (1895-1990), including J.F. Mark (estimate $25,000-$35,000); three painted wood carvings by William R. Jauquet, including Noah’s Ark (estimate $10,000-$15,000); three works by Sam Doyle (1906-1985), including Baseball Player and Red Barn (estimate $8,000-$12,000); and four original oil paintings by Clementine Hunter (1886-1988). 

The auction will be held in the Historic Buford Hall, located at 112 E. Shadburn Ave. in Buford, Ga. Doors will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8, and the auction will start promptly at 10 a.m. It is a cataloged auction, meaning all lots will be called in sequence, exactly as they appear in the catalog (at a rate of about 75 lots an hour). Previews will be held on Nov. 6 (from 10-5) and on Nov. 7 (from 10-9).

There is no charge for admission, and complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served. Absentee and phone bid forms are located in the full-color 110-page catalog, which may be ordered by calling 770-532-1115 or 404-403-4244. Directions, recommendations for hotels and shuttles, and other pertinent information, is also in the catalog and online, at www.slotinfolkart.com.

Slotin Auction hosts 3-4 major sales a year, all of them specializing in self-taught art and Southern folk pottery. To learn more about the company and its upcoming auctions, you may visit them online at www.slotinfolkart.com. The firm is always accepting quality consignments for future sales. To consign an item, estate, or collection, call 404-403-4244 or e-mail auction@slotinfolkart.com.  

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