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Wide Array of Self-Taught Folk Art to Cross the Block at Spring Masterpiece Sale

by WorthPoint Staff (04/03/12).

This “Champion Sword Swallower” circus sideshow banner, attributed to Neiman Eisman (circa 1930s-‘40s), is estimated to sell for $3,000-$4,000 at a weekend folk art sale, to be held April 21-22 by Slotin Auction.

BUFORD, Ga. – More than 1,500 lots of folk art in a wide array of genres—from Southern folk pottery, circus and carnival freak show items to folk erotica, a collection of early hand-made Black Americana items, self-taught artworks, masterpieces and more—will be up for purchase in a weekend sale to be held April 21-22 by Slotin Auction in the Historic Buford Hall. It is the firm’s popular Spring Masterpiece Sale, held around this time each year. Internet bidding will be hosted by LiveAuctioneers.

The auction will provide bidders with an eclectic and exciting mix of offerings, as Slotin Auction specializes in bringing the strange, the unusual and the vanishing America to auction. Historic Buford Hall is located at 112 East Shadburn Ave. in Buford, just north of Atlanta.

This devil rock-tooth jug by the renowned craftsman Lanier Meaders, circa 1970s, in mint condition (est. $2,000-$3,000), is among the many face jugs up for auction.

“We have a well-rounded catalog, with many different artists and items. There is much to choose from,” said Steve Slotin of Slotin Auction. “Folk art, while deeply rooted in history and the American experience, is evolving, like any other art form. This sale will reflect emerging trends. It sounds like a cliché, but there really is something for everybody in this sale.”

The April 21 session will kick off promptly at 10 a.m. (EST), with more than 125 lots of face jugs, the crowd-pleasing expressions of Southern folk pottery crafted by some of the most famous artisans in the field: the Meaders family (Lanier, Reggie, A.G., Clete and others); Billy Ray Hussey, members of the Hewell family, Marie and Brenda Rogers, B. B. Craig and others.

Circus and carnival items will feature a paint on canvas “Champion Sword Swallower” side-show banner attributed to Neiman Eisman (circa 1930s-’40s), 118 inches by 90 inches (est. $3,000-$4,000); a pair of nymphs carousel side, carved and polychromed painted wood, attributed to Allen Hirschell (est. $3,000-$5,000); knock-down dolls; shooting targets and more.

Several tobacconist figures will be sold, to include an 1875 Cigar Store Indian, carved and polychromed wood with gesso, 76 inches tall (est. $12,000-$17,000); a rare, wrapped and stuffed doll on horseback, 15 inches high, made of carved wood and mixed media (est. $2,000-$3,000); and a 93-inch-tall Indian figure, carved wood with layered paint (est. $1,000-$2,000).

Two lots certain to spark bidding wars are an unusual cut-molded sheet metal centaur weather vane made by an anonymous craftsman around the third quarter of the 19th century, large at 60 inches by 71 inches (est. $8,000-$10,000); and an original graphite on joined paper by Martin Ramirez, titled “Caballero” and depicting an armed man on a horse (est. $35,000-$45,000).

This carved and polychromed wood with gesso 1875 Cigar Store Indian, 76 inches tall, carries a presale estimate of $12,000-$17,000.

A pair of works by William Hawkins will also get paddles wagging. The first is a 1982 enamel-on-Masonite landscape rendering with figures titled “Trail Riders,” 60 inches by 48 inches (est. $20,000-$30,000). The other is enamel on paneling with glitter painting titled “AIU Citadel” (1982), artist-signed and dated with a birth date, 39 inches by 50 inches (est. $10,000-$20,000).

Sister Gertrude Morgan is a name synonymous with Slotin Auction, and this auction has several of her works, to include an unsigned paint and ink on odd-shaped paper titled “Revelation” (est. $4,000-$6,000); a paint on paper board titled “Peter, James and John” (est. $4,000-$7,000); and a circa 1970s paint with watercolor work titled “Light With Self-Portrait” (est. $3,000-$5,000).

Clementine Hunter will also be represented in the sale, with a 1950s oil on artist board titled “Zinnias at a Funeral” (est. $5,000-$8,000); a circa-1945 paint on paper titled “Bringing Mother a Cool Drink” (est. $5,000-$8,000); a circa-1967 oil on canvas board titled “Nativity Scene”; and a circa-1960s oil on artist board titled “Leaving Church on a Sunday” (est. $2,000-$4,000).

Sam Doyle is another huge fan favorite. Offered in the auction will be a paint on roofing tin, initialed and titled “Whooping Boy” (est. $8,000-$12,000); a paint on roofing tin titled “Penn School Drummer” 1920 (est. $8,000-$12,000); a signed oil on window shade titled “Rambeling (sic) Rose” (est. $2,000-$3,000); and a paint on tin tray titled “Fruit Tray” (est. $1,000-$2,000).

Perhaps the king of the crowd-pleasers is the late Howard Finster, a true superstar in the folk art galaxy. This sale will include his 1981 paint on found paneling titled “The Words of Jesus” (est. $7,000-$10,000); a paint and marker on board titled “Black Cat of Desert Storm” (est. $3,000-$5,000); and a 1983 tractor enamel on board titled “Vision of Earth Cheetah” (est. $2,000-$4,000).

Another name to be reckoned with is Mose Tollliver. Around a dozen of his works will be sold, including a paint on Masonite titled “Something Like a Wild Man” (est. $1,000-$2,000); a very early, signed paint on Masonite titled “Mose With Wife in Flowers” (est. $1,000-$2,000); and a signed, circa 1970s-1980s oil on canvas titled “Erotic Couple Behind Bars” (est. $1,000-$2,000).

This oil on canvas board painting by Gustav Klumpp, titled “Bathing Beauties,” signed and framed, will find a new home for $3,000 to $5,000.

More than 20 original works by Jimmy Lee Sudduth, taking up two full catalog pages, will cross the block. Featured will be an 8-foot-tall paint and mud on board of a “Tall Red-Headed Woman” (est. $1,000-$3,000); her counterpart, a “Tall Black-Headed Woman” (est. $1,000-$3,000); and a signed paint and mud on board of a man with banjo, simply titled “ME” (est. $1,000-$2,000).

The auction will feature numerous “New Discoveries,” supremely talented artists who have flown beneath the radar—until now. One of these is Anthony de Bernardin (1889-1972), a self-taught Pennsylvania painter who made paintings of his neighborhood as well as other subjects believed to have come from photos and magazines. Sixteen of his works will be sold.

Previews will be held Thursday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and on Friday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., or by appointment. In addition to online bidding participation, phone and absentee bids will also be taken. For more information, call 770.532.1115 or 404.403.4244, e-mail to or visit the Slotin Auction website.


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