This picture is from the banquet that took place this evening. I’ve had some wonderful meals in Portland (that would would probably earn me a tsk or two from Mikki), but the banquet meal was not one of them. Your basic chicken with starchy mashed potatoes and asparagus, and a salad that was probably sitting on those plates since the last banquet. Luckily the crowd was warm and friendly, and the action at the auction would make you forget eating rusty nails!
Before I launch into the amazing results from the auction, let me show you some more amazing artwork that came off of a lathe.
Yesterday I had a picture of the work by David Nittmann, but I wasn’t happy with the view. Well, my camera has fresh batteries and here’s a better view showing off the colors and the patterns in this piece. With this view, you’re also looking into the narrow opening and seeing the colors inside of the vessel. Beautiful.
I didn’t write down the artist on this piece, but I wanted to show work created on a Rose Engine, and with this piece there’s no color or grain to take away from the textured patterns. The Rose Engine is a type of lathe that was originally developed in the Victorian era and used to add this sort of complex and detailed surface decoration to turned work, referred to as Ornamental Turning. Although there hasn’t been a lot of this type of work done recently, I’m starting to see more and more of it. It can be quite beautiful. The tops done by John Sauer (shown yesterday) are ornamental turnings.
This bowl is by Molly Winton. The design is made with a burning tool; the horses formed by the unburned wood, and the black background is the burned part. She doesn’t color the piece. The light brown is the natural color of the wood and the black is charred wood. In the lower part of the bowl, there is a “basket weave” pattern that’s also burned into the wood. I had a chance to attend a couple of her demonstrations and see her technique. Interesting and lovely work.
I didn’t write down the name of the person who produced this piece, either. But, I thought it was a lovely kaleidoscope. The body lifts off the stand and the pattern you can see in the scope is a typical, colorful and changing kaleidoscope image. You don’t see very many kaleidoscopes in the Instant Gallery, but this was a fine example.
Ben Carpenter makes these beautiful, organic looking objects that are carved from the original turned piece. He had several other objects, one of which looked like some fantastical creature with long, bird-like legs. Although that was the first item to grab your attention, I liked this piece a lot more. All of his creations have this biological, fantastical looking theme.
This beautiful piece is by Sharon Doughtie and is another turned and then burned work. The ribbons are the natural color of the wood, and the colorful spots in the ribbons are knots in the wood. The black background is all charred wood. Her work is beautiful.
This is a wonderful example of a natural edge bowl. Once again, I didn’t get the artist’s name on this piece, but I want to include an example of a vessel without surface decoration. It’s a beautiful piece of wood that has been turned by an expert’s hand.
Okay, I’ll end this by telling you a couple of results from tonight’s auction. First, this is the piece that was a collaborative effort from Bonnie Klein and Jacques Vesery. Nominally a box, it’s an amazing piece with a lot of surprises that you find by disassembling it. You unscrew the box to find other turned objects that unscrew to reveal even more turned objects. Each of the artists produces beautiful and very well received (meaning expensive) work on their own. Together, these two have a history of producing collaborative objects that blow through the price ceiling on turned wood art.
Well, by the time the auction on this ended, the bidding reached $20,000. Yes, it’s an amazing price. But, just wait …
This is the collaborative piece by Frank Sudol and Binh Pho. Frank was an accomplished turner and well loved mentor who died last year. Binh was a student of his who is now one of the top turners in the world. This work is a beautiful synthesis of both their styles and is the only collaboration they ever made. So, with that background, the discussion I heard from collectors before the auction is that they expected it to sell for somewhere between $10,000 and $12,000.
When the bids topped $20,000, the crowd gasped. Every bid that bumped the price up by $1000 had the audience shifting with anticipation – and in stunned silence. The final bid that ended the auction came in at $30,000. The crowd leapt to its feet and cheered. I don’t know whether that’s the highest price paid for a piece of wood turned art, but it’s the highest price I’ve ever seen. It was an amazing way to end the night.