Winter hiatus ends as galleries prep big sales
With spring in the wings, the local auction scene seems set to wake from its long winter's nap. Concept Art Gallery ends its hibernation with a fine art and design event, while Dargate Auction Galleries opens the 2013 season with a three-day marathon at its McKees Rocks sanctuary. At Constantine & Pletcher, a batch of Tiffany candlesticks will light some fires. Meanwhile, BHD Auction hits the reboot button to launch a new online sale. And south of the Allegheny County border, Three Rivers stages a sale with the art of Malcolm Parcell as the headliner.
Concept Art Gallery
Among the diverse collection of nearly 500 items up for bid at Concept's March 22 sale is a nearly even amount of antiques and contemporary pieces, a rare mix for the Regent Square gallery. That well-blended batch of merchandise yields a wide selection of choice for bidders, who can contend for everything from mid-19th-century daguerreotypes to mid-2 0th-century contemporary furniture from George Nakashimi.
The highlights shine brilliantly and early in the sale as an A.F. King still life should up the ante in the opening rounds of bidding. Generously proportioned at 18 inches by 12 inches, the scene displays a small basket of cherries placed beside a freshly sliced-open honeydew with its seeds spilling on the tabletop.
In the mid-century modern furniture category, items from Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Alvar Aalto complement the Nakashimi pieces, which include six walnut chairs and a walnut trestle-base, free-edge dining table. What could be the standout furniture selection is a walnut and aluminum cabinet attributed to Charles and Ray Eames. Designed for the IBM pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City, the cabinet has a walnut top with four doors and five drawers divided into one set of three and another of two on top of chrome legs. At 28 inches high, 84 inches long and 18 inches deep, the cabinet is sleekly sophisticated and functional.
Artwork of a more contemporary vintage features pieces mostly from the mid to late 20th century. On a local angle, work from Virgil Cantini, Jerry Caplan and Henry Koerner stand out in a field that includes Joan Miro, Salvador Dali, Fried Pal and Alex Steinweiss, a graphic artist known as the creator of the modern LP cover.
Auction previews are during Concept's regular business hours. Details: 412-242-9200
Dargate Auction Galleries• Dargate's weekend sale offers a nice selection of mid-century contemporary furniture from a Chippewa, Beaver County, home, influenced by the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright.
One of the more important pieces in the contemporary furniture group is an Italian floor lamp from Arredoluce. The early-model, three-arm light stands on a metal tripod and brightens just about any room with three conical shades of red, yellow and black.
For those who always seem to be running out of time, a self-winding French Movado Atmos clock from the mid-1930s is a must. Designed by Jean-Leon Reutter, this unique timekeeper, in its ebonized metal case trimmed in chrome and sitting on splayed feet, stays up to the minute with a winding mechanism activated by a sealed capsule of liquid and gas that expands and contracts with changes in air pressure.
One of the more intriguing and enigmatic pieces in the sale is an “outsider” folk-art painting that depicts the Crucifixion of Christ. Wildly imaginative, the painting comes from an Amish community from Spartanburg, Crawford County, and portrays various moments in the hours before his death on Calvary. With a viscerally vivid style, the watercolor-on -paper work packs plenty of punch with its primitive style.
Preview times are from noon to 8 p.m. March 13 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 14. The sales begin at 10 a.m. March 15 and 16 and noon March 17. Previews and sales are at Dargate, 326 Munson Ave., McKees Rocks. Details: 412-771-8700
Additional bandwidth might be the solution for BHD Auctions as the company continues to realize increased volume in the quality of merchandise and strength of bids during its web-exclusive sales. The upswing in BHD's web sales is evident in its next 'net venture that runs March 15 to 28. Among the standouts is a group of gently cleaned and restored turn-of-the-century furniture. Though refinished, the pieces retain the appearance of an age-appropriate patina without any of the heavy-handed shellacking applied to many antiques during the 1970s and '80s.
Other notable choices include collections of sports-related shot glasses, pocket watches, vintage metal soldiers, Goebel figurines, glassware, wooden-shaft golf clubs and other miscellany.
Details: 724-816-0683 or www.bhdauctions.net
Three Rivers Auction Co.
Always a hot ticket at Three Rivers, the work of Malcolm Parcell on saleduring the company's March 19 event should attract extra attention. This time around, the more than 30 lots of Parcell art trace their provenance to a relative of the artist, with many of the pieces up for bid for the first time.
One of the more significant pieces is “Pears and Digg's Shack,” a nearly square early oil-on-canvas that shows a group of pears sitting on a table in front of a rural home. Also in the seldom-seen category are drawings and paintings that graced Parcells' Christmas cards sent to friends and relatives. Several works focus on his wife, Helen — including a life mask and plaque — along with a 1925 self-portrait of the artist. The sale includes Parcell's wife's scrapbook, filled with Victorian cards, photos and advertising pieces. Overall, the collection showcases Parcell oil paintings, etchings and drawings, hand-colored photographs and other works rarely viewed by the public.
Rounding out the bill of goods are collections of Murano glass clowns, colorful bird figurines from the Stangl Pottery Co., several leaded stained-glass lamps, furniture ranging from primitive to Arts-and-Crafts styles, toys, porcelain figural lamps and other collectibles and antiques.
The sale preview runs from noon to 6 p.m. March 19, followed by the sale, at Three Rivers' showroom at 382 W. Chestnut St., Washington, Pa. Details: 724-222-8020
Constantine & Pletcher
Constantine & Pletcher's March 16 auction will include more merchandise from Lillian Goldsmith's River House antique shop, but goods from other consignors will share headline status.
The real star of the show is a painting by Biren De, a pioneer of Indian modernist art. Best known for his color geometric works, De painted more “traditional” pieces earlier in his long career. On the block at C&P is “The Three Fishermen,” an oil-on-canvas that captures a trio of men emptying their nets of the day's catch on the beach.
The painting landed in the area as a result of De's friendship with a local attorney. Over the years, the painting was gifted to the lawyer's friends before its consignment to C&P. Several letters between De and the attorney solidify the painting's provenance. Also noteworthy, the painted was exhibited at the Salon Demai during the 1951 Expo in Paris.
A pair of Tiffany Studios bronze and blown-glass intaglio candlesticks provide a sneak peek of future Tiffany offerings. Shedding some additional light are a pair of Tiffany Studios dore bronze candlesticks, a double lily-pad chamberstick and a ball candlestick.
On a more playful note, toys will appeal to the young and young at heart. Bidders can delight in going in circles with a J. Chein Ferris wheel and a made-in-Pittsburgh Wolverine merry-go-round — both with their original boxes. Sale previews are from noon to 5 p.m. March 15 and 8 to 9 a.m. March 16. An uncataloged sale starts at 9 a.m. March 16 followed by the cataloged sale at noon. Previews and sales take place at the C & P galleries, 1306 Pittsburgh St., Cheswick. Details: 724-275-7190
John Altdorfer is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.