Pyramid Club’s forgotten women artists
  • The works of African American artist Roland Ayers
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    Auction Finds

    Artists who’ve gotten lost in history

    I was at an auction this week where paintings and prints by several Philadelphia artists were sold. I knew some of the names, but others were unfamiliar to me.

    This wasn’t the first time that I’d been introduced to artists, many of whom may have been well-known during their prime but have largely disappeared now. They are what I have dubbed Philadelphia’s forgotten artists.

    I’ve made it my mission to rediscover them by writing about their artwork as I’ve come across it on the tables or hanging on the walls at auction. My hope is that the artist or a family member will contact me to tell me more about him or her. That has happened in several cases (and I’ve located some on my own), and I’ve blogged about the life of those artists, including Roland Ayers, Ed Jones, Stuart Egnal and Sarai Sherman.

    An untitled watercolor or gouache, 1962, by Roland Ayers.

    I wrote a story about Philadelphia’s forgotten artists for my local newspaper, and the story ran in the features section this morning. You can read it here.

    A week ago, I put together content for a slide show for the website theroot.com on African American history items I’d stumbled on at auction. You can see the slide show here.

    This autographed photo of Nat King Cole was in a plastic sleeve with some over-sized wedding photos at the estate auction of entertainer Paulie Teardrop.

    I have found the discovery of the artists and the artifacts as a fascinating aside to my jaunts to auctions. I have learned so much about history, how we lived as a people and a society, and the things we cherished. I have also learned that we buy too much, waste too much and don’t give enough thought to the stuff we live behind. And we don’t know enough about what our stuff is worth. Now, I tell people to figure out what they have and its worth before tossing it in the garbage.

    Why is Charles Smiling?, oil on canvas, 1973 by Sarai Sherman.

     

     

     

     

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