Paul Crawford is a bit sad they didn’t find a home for all the works in the Penticton Art Gallery’s auction, but thinks 95 per cent is a pretty good achievement.
“I am pretty happy with that,” said the gallery curator. “I think people, for the most part, were willing to pay a fair price for a lot of the works this year, compared to previous years, where it seemed we were giving away more bargains than anything else.”
Crawford didn’t have the final tally for the auction, but there were a number of significant sales, including the keynote piece at the auction, a signed copy of Emily Carr’s Klee Wyck, which sold for $8,200, along with the original printing block for the book’s cover.
“We had one telephone bidder from Ontario and then three bidder in the room, that were going for it pretty good,” said Crawford. In the end, the historic book stayed in B.C., being sold to a Kelowna book collector.
“As much as the book was great, he was really more interested in the printing block and the rarity of that,” said Crawford. “It also proves my theory I have that a story will do you a world of good.”
Crawford explained that he also found letters between Carr and her editor discussing the book and the cover.
“Then it turned out that his letters indicated the day the book arrived in Emily Carr’s hands would have been Nov. 19, 1941, which was the day the book was signed.”
Another of Crawford’s special items that drew some heated bidding was a portrait, whose only provenance was a note on the back indicating it was painted by a student of Group of Seven painter Fred Varley.
Some might have been bidding on the possibility the painting was done by Varley himself, or one of his more famous students, but the eventual winner wanted it for different reasons.
“The gentleman that won it, he just loved it for the piece and his wife is really into fashion and design and they have a real empathy for that period of history,” said Crawford. “Any other stories above that, they just got a thrill out of the idea that they could do some research. That’s the bonus at the end of the day, if you are able to find something else about it, then something you love is going to have that much more richness to it.”
Crawford acquired several special items this year in an effort to expand interest in the auction, and was pleased with the results, which also included increased interest in local artists.