Gray’s Auction Features Cleveland Artists
Late last year, the Cleveland Foundation contacted Deba Gray and Serena Harrigan of Gray’s Auctioneers. The Foundation was whittling down its art collection in preparation for its upcoming move to MidTown and identified some works that they did not have a place for. They decided to generate income by putting these works up for auction at Gray’s, with the proceeds going back into funding local artists and galleries.
The Cleveland Foundation has collected work by Cleveland artists throughout its existence, and the bulk of their collection, whether donated or purchased, has represented the local arts scene.
Fifty modern and contemporary works will go up for auction at Gray’s on March 9—some come from the Cleveland Foundation’s collection, and others from various private collections. Colonne-luminuese by Argentinian artist Julio Le Parc (b. 1928) is the top lot, expected to sell for $80,000-$120,000. The piece has been exhibited twice at the Cleveland Museum of Art and was part of the personal collection of Henry Hawley III (1934-2019), Curator of Decorative Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art from 1960-2002. This structure appears crystalline; comprised of Lucite and painted wood, a kinetic electric motor allows color and light to dance both inside and outside of the piece. It is ideally viewed in the dark to appreciate the vibrant hues.
The maquette for Last by Tony Smith (1912-1980) is another significant piece up for auction. Last is the monumental steel sculpture that Smith created, with support from the Cleveland Foundation, for the Ohio State Building downtown. The title derives the fact that this was the final project Smith was commissioned for before he passed away in 1980. Smith was a prominent artist in the 1960s and 1970s and is considered one of the leading figures in the American Minimalist Sculpture movement. His work is represented around the globe.
Clarence Van Duzer, an artist whose work has touched and influenced Cleveland’s cultural landscape, is presented in the auction. Green, Orange, Blue is Van Duzer’s three-dimensional sculptural painting that uses brass rods to create a raised sunburst, hovering above the op art painting. This intricate piece shows how Van Duzer integrated painting and sculptural work into one. The painting, an outstanding op art piece in and of itself, is elevated by Van Duzer’s metalworking skills. As the light hits the piece, it creates shadows that move based on the sun’s positioning. “Personally, I think this is one of the best pieces he ever made,” said Serena Harrigan, CEO of Gray’s Auctioneers. Van Duzer must have thought so, too, since he did not part with this piece until the end of his life.
Other notable artists in the auction who have Cleveland ties include, but are not limited to, Ed Mieczkowski, Scott Miller, and Patricia Zinsmeister Parker.
Ed Mieczkowski (1929-2017) was a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Art for 39 years and was a founder of Anonima, a group of geometric abstractionists. Anonima later became part of the Op Art movement, which uses optical illusions to create a dynamic viewing experience. Mieczkowski’s Broken Ice is a non-objective abstract piece, grounded in geometry rather than reality. The artist has expertly rendered hard-edged lines in gouache, a fast-drying, water-based paint that requires a high level of skill to manage.
Scott Miller (1955-2008) was a notable painter who operated his studio in Cleveland. His oil painting, Figures, glistens on the canvas as the four characters overlap with each other to become one. This piece is dynamic, human, and a striking example of body abstraction. Miller showed his work around the world but remained an active participant in Cleveland’s visual arts scene, exhibiting at the Akron Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and Kent State, among several other esteemed venues.
Patricia Zinsmeister Parker (b. 1934) describes her work as “narrative abstract expressionism.” She is a painter based in North Canton whose career spans over four decades. Zinsmeister Parker began painting as a child by attending Saturday art classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In 1976 she discovered “Bad Painting,” a trend in American figurative painting that rejected traditional standards of “good taste.” Her still life, Lemons, brings fine art into the domestic sphere and is one of the many impressive pieces in her oeuvre. She is represented in several collections across the United States and is actively exhibiting both locally and nationally.
Gray’s is open for in-person preview where all the lots will be on exhibition, between now and March 9 by appointment. Please contact the auction house for details. The auction starts on March 9 at 10 a.m. EST with live bidding available at GraysAuctioneers.com. Bidding is also accepted by telephone and by absentee. The fully illustrated catalog is now online at GraysAuctioneers.com.