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Friday, November 24, 2003

Immerse yourself in art
Contemporary and African pieces for sale

Hannah Maria Hayes
Press & Sun-Bulletin

Auctioneer Robert J. Connelly in Larry Aldrich's 1985 Chrysler LeBaron decorated by artist Joel Otterson with scenes from the garden of his Kentucky farm.
Auctioneer Bob Connelly drove the '85 Chrysler LeBaron covered in contact paper from the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Connecticut. The artist, Joel Otterson, covered the car with 3M vinyl using images of his garden. The car, titled The Endless Summer, was done in 1995. It will be sold as part of the Aldrich collection.
Chuck Haupt, Press & Sun-Bulletin

This weekend you'll have two chances to look at and buy art originally housed in museum collections.

Two Binghamton businesses will host the events, which together encompass more than 600 pieces of artwork created in all corners of the world.

On Saturday and Sunday you'll be able to preview some 300 pieces of contemporary art that will be auctioned Nov. 8. You'll also be able to see an exhibit and purchase from more than 300 pieces of antique African art.

Take your pick or go to both:

Contemporary art

Larry Aldrich (1906-2001) was a prominent fashion designer and a discerning and passionate art collector.

He purchased an 18th century historic home in Ridgefield, Conn., and converted it into an exhibition venue for contemporary art in 1964. The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum has since earned a reputation for its timely presentation of new art and emerging talent.

The museum, however, has decided to auction off more than 300 pieces from its permanent collection on Nov. 8 in Binghamton. Proceeds will go toward an expansion plan that will double the size of the museum by spring 2004. Another 53 items from Aldrich's personal collection will also be auctioned, with proceeds going to his estate.

Larry Rivers lithograph Madame Butterfly (1978)
Larry Rivers, lithograph/artist proof, Madam Butterfly, 1978, 24 by 32 inches

This body of contemporary art was created by more than 200 artists, including a portfolio of 12 hand-colored etchings by Salvador Dali, a screenprint by Roy Lichtenstein, lithographs by Richard Linder and a black and white photograph by Robert Rauschenberg. The pieces were all made between 1908 and 1922 and encompass genres such as paintings, photography, sculpture and works on paper.

Binghamton-based auctioneer Bob Connelly was chosen to handle the auction because of his expertise in handling other diverse sales, said Amy Grabowski, a spokeswoman for The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Connelly runs the auction business with his wife, Sallie Connelly.

"We felt it was essential that there was a preview for people to see all of the work, not just the pieces by the artists with name recognition," said Richard Klein, the museum's assistant director. "The major auction houses in New York City, such as Sotheby's and Christies, really want to deal with only 'blue chip' art, and anything that falls out of this category they are not interested in."

Connelly owns a 40,000-square-foot facility that can house the large collection. Selling the works together helps increase the interest and sales of pieces by lesser-known artists, Klein said.

Advertisements for the event have run in the New York Times and trade magazines. A potential bidder from Austria has already booked a hotel room in Greater Binghamton. There will also be a preview showing of select items in Cleveland.

"It's an international auction as far as the people who will be buying items," Connelly said. "There are items that will bring in five figures and some that will bring in $100."

All of the art will sell at the event; there are no reserve prices.

"There will be some terrific buys from some of these emerging artists," he said.

There are quite a few works from the 1960s and 1970s by artists who aren't household names, but whose careers are being reevaluated, Klein said.

"If one looks at any period in art, artists often fall out of favor in their lifetime only to be 'rediscovered' by the next generation," he said. "If one reads publications such as Art in America or Art News, hardly a month goes by without an article rediscovering the work of an artist from the past 40 years."

But even if you aren't in the market to make a purchase, it's worth attending the auction to see the pieces up close, Connelly said.

"This is very, very high-end art that was part of the permanent collection of the foremost contemporary art museum in the United States," he said.

Editor's Note: This article originally included a second page devoted to Thomas Kelleher of Tom's Coffee, Cards & Gifts in Binghamton who will be showing African art from his personal collection at his exhibition and sale.
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