JERRY GOROSKI is the consultant appraisar to whom I refer inquiries about Scriver bronzes. He is formally trained and certified to do assessments and knew Bob Scriver as well as working for the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls. His gallery is called "Open Range Art."


Wednesday, April 05, 2006


This material comes from New York magazine (, an article entitled, “Five Theories On Why the Art Market Can’t Crash and Why It Will Anyway” by Marc Spiegler

The article wasn’t written about Western art, but it is relevant. The categories referred to are Impressionism and Modern (which have been dynamic for quite a while) and Postwar and Contemporary (which are just now taking off).

Here are the five theories:

1. “The Expanded Art World.” Up to twenty times more people are buying art now as in 1990.

2. “The Art World’s Gone Global.” The big recent contemporary-art collectors have been from Brazil, Mexico and South Korea. Next might be Russia and China -- maybe India or Arab emirates. For cowboy artists, Japan and Germany have always been happy. But an interesting “Western art” trend is paintings of and by Russians, Chinese, Mongolians, and so on.

3. “Art is the New Asset Class.”
Compares well with real-estate or bonds. Mei-Moses, two NYU economists, did a study that shows contemporary art compares well with the S&P 500. This is constantly pushed among some dealers.

4. “Diversification As a Safety Valve.”
Because there are so many different kinds of art (think of video, etc) the action rolls through them so that there are many small corrections to the big category of Art. This is probably less true of Western art, which is not so diverse. The diversity tends to be in the subject matter: still-life, landscape, portraits, wildlife, etc. All representational, if occasionally a little surreal or abstract.

5. “The Japanese.” The last boom (esp. in Impressionism) and bust (linked to a crashing Japanese real estate scene) were both Japanese, but they seem stable now.

Advice: Watch Christie’s and Sotheby’s. In the past they wouldn’t sell works less than ten years old, but now they’re taking works three or four years “out of the studio.” Though their sales are only a tiny part of the art market, they are so public that they tend to control impressions of how the art market is doing. If both major houses have failed auctions back-to-back, people will panic. But in fact, private and gallery sales might be quite different.

“The defining characteristic of the current art world is speed.” People are buying online after seeing “only a J-PEG” image, as opposed to having to travel to a different country and taking months to make a decision. “Speculators, private dealers and consultants” abound and can disappear overnight. (Posting JPEG versions of paintings in online catalogues for auctions has become very sensitive and may diminish online sales.)

The bad words are “correction, contraction or crash,” which mean that prices will be abruptly cut, galleries will disappear, and some artists will become unsaleable. (Anyone want to buy a pickled shark?) Some aspects of some artists (cheap prints) will be worthless. (Hello, Terpning.)

The bright side: Of course, great opportunity for those with reserve cash for buying! And all the softwood imitative artists will drift off to something easier -- maybe rodeo competition -- while those who truly love it for its own sake will continue to follow their vision and sharpen their skills. The best art is always done by hungry artists who aren’t distracted by cocktail parties and opportunists looking for someone to exploit.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


DOUBLE READALONG: You’ll need these two magazines for this to make sense. It’s going to be one of those “compare and contrast” exercises, just to see what turns up.

ART OF THE WEST (March/April, 2006)
SOUTHWEST ART, Fine Art of Today’s West (March, 2006)
1. SW Art is one month, 168 numbered pages, and comes out of El Segundo, CA. It’s part of an Active Interest Media. Inc. I have no idea what that implies.
Art of the West is 2 months, 128 numbered pages, and comes out of Minnetonka, MN, and belongs to Duerr & Tierney, the two publishers.

COVERS: Both are showing women on the cover. SW Art’s is a crisp depiction of cowgirl in SW gear on an appaloosa that is cropped except for enough horse to support the saddle. It’s by Ann Hanson, a Wyoming cowgirl. AofTW shows an nearly black/white with touches of red Spanish dancer, blurry to suggest movement. This is a Pino “female appreciation.” Both artists have stories inside.

ENTRANCES: SW ART: p. 21, a waterside doorway by Grigsby. p76, industrial doors by Sally Cleveland. Ad section in back: “Lavendar Abbey” garden entrance by Greg Gawlowski. SW home by Birgitta Kappe. San Juan Capistrano arcade photo by Vern Clevenger
AotW: p. 122 “A Conversation in Trastavere” by Milly Tsai

CAFES: SW ART: p. 20 Two glowing interiors. Is the artist named “Coffee?” p. ? Near the back: inside lookin’ out by Alan McNiel.
AofW: p. 28 Slightly misty cafe (steam?) by Michael Steirnagle.
p. 25 “Outside the Library” by Keith Larson. I love this one. It's my kinda lifestyle.

BIRDS: SW ART: p. ? Ad section in the back, a sculpted road runner on a pot by Jason Napier.
AotW: p. 116 Magpie on a saddle horn by K.C. Snider.

TERPNING: SW ART: P. 29 “Protectors of the Cheyenne People” print. P. 97, “Protectors” again, plus “Captured from General Crook’s Command” and “Plunder from Sonora.” prints.
AotW: None. p. 91 Ed Kucera’s “The Looking Glass” is a similar style.

: I remember Fred Fellows’ studio when he first showed up in Montana in the Sixties. It was a little more “homemade” then and he owns a lot fancier stuff now, but it’s not all that different. He just has a second wife (he was widowed earlier) and a lot more money.
AotW: Morgan Weistling’s studio is an addition with a pop-up window to bring in light. The room looks homey and includes his grandmother’s century-old dresser and a comfy rocker with cushions and a ruffle. His daughter is home-schooled in his studio. His wife is a painter, too, but she uses a guest room.

In general, Southwest Art, even in an issue with Classic Western Art on the cover, is slightly more open to abstract art. The talented and highly trained Chinese artists are welcome. There’s a guy wearing’ a do-rag and sittin’ on a super-realistic motorcycle. “Road Warrior” by Valerie Stewart, p. ? SWArt is bad about numbering pages. There’s a bit of “NA” art, even baskets, and the inimitable Navajo Gorman, who is so recognizable that his work shows up in cartoons! Once there was a little sequence of cafe art -- this time it’s six tough cowgirls, each unique.

AotWest will be bought by some people (mostly guys) just for the Pino pinups, but women will like “The Matriach” who has white hair now, but as much style as ever. I’m impressed by David Nordahl’s Apaches, which are detailed in his own vivid style and appear to be based on research. AotW includes more notices of exhibits and auctions -- both coming and going -- and a unique feature: a page on “Law and the Art World” by Bill Frazier, Attorney, which always gives good advice. The two publishers also claim a page to make observations of their own, but the actual editor is a woman, Vicki Stavig. At SW Art the editor is Kristin Bucher.

Both magazines noted the passing of several artists. One might think that this because the explosion of Western art of the Sixties and Seventies has meant that time’s arrow has pierced more than a few familiar artists, but there seem to be illness and accidents as well.

When visitors to my house pick up these magazines and flip through them, they sometimes say that all the pictures look the same to them. But they sure don’t look that way to me. Not only do they seem different from each other, they also seem different than they used to be. Better, I think, just like the artists.