Thursday, November 08, 2012

Sotheby’s New Performance Commission

Today during my update USPAP class I heard about the last ploy by Sothebys to juice up the bottom line. This is only now beginning to hit the internet, but it will be big news. See also my article in this issue of the Newsletter on private sales and the potential for abuse in that area. Performance commissions are a more serious matter. If the auction house talks you into a lower reserve and presale estimate and the subsequent sale is higher than expected you get to pay Sothebys more. Now if it is bought in  (fails to sell) Sothebys will not be sharing your pain. How the auction house can serve as an appraiser and not only have the conflict of interest of selling the property but also have clear incentives to appraise low is mind blowing. To date we have not heard that Christies plans to follow this model. But maybe if they had it would appear to be a re-run of the price fixing scandal of 2000 - 2002. We will keep you posted. And thanks to Art Market Monitor for bringing it to our attention.

Here’s an interesting new performance commission that has begun to appear in Sotheby’s consignor’s contracts:

“a performance-related commission for each lot calculated as set out below will be charged in the event that the hammer price for the lot exceeds its final high presale estimate. Sotheby’s performance related commission will be equal to the lower of (i) 2.00% of the hammer price achieved for that lot and (ii) the difference between the hammer price achieved for the lot and its final high presale estimate”.
Sotheby’s says
This season, we formalized an existing practice which reflects our philosophy that when we exceed the expectations of our consignors, we should receive additional, incremental compensation which reflects that success.

What’s happening here is that Sotheby’s is trying to improve its position on commissions by making something out of the fact that in 2011 nearly 40% of Sotheby’s sold lots achieved a hammer price above the high estimate. Of course, estimates are set by an interplay between buyer’s and sellers. Auction houses would prefer estimates to be as low as possible to entice buyers. Consignors want high estimates that confirm their own expectations.

Curiously, this new fee increases the auction house’s incentive to lower estimates.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

General Tribal Art Highlights - Fall 2012

Horned bird mask
Ht. 19 1/2"
Early 20th century

Mask Depictions

  • "Traditional dance masks depict gods, demons, people or animals. The Buta Macan topeng, for example, is a tiger demon. The upper half of the mask is red, the lower half white with black dots and the fang-like teeth gold. The mask for Panji -- the hero of the ancient dance stories of the same name -- is all gold and emanates a sense of serene strength. The Pati Suanda topeng of a lesser nobleman is white with smiling red lips and decorated with black lines.

Mask Spirits

  • Dance masks are believed to be endowed with the spirit they represent. Dancers wearing masks transcend their own identities and adopt those of the masks. In an area of Java, Indonesia, traditional animal masks are even held over the fire in the belief that they will draw the spirits of the animals into them. The fire is also believed to bring a dancer under the power of the spirit. In Bali, Indonesia, where some masks are believed to be alive, dancers are thought to be imbued with the spirits' power."

Surat Chest
L. 57 1/2"
Persian Gulf
Late 19th century
"They are known as ‘Arab’ Chests but that is only part of the story. There is no collective name for the communities of the Indian Ocean that created these amazing chests: chests to store peoples’ most precious possessions. I like to think of them as peoples of the monsoon - a community of coastal civilisations that relied on the powerful winds of the Indian Ocean. From China, through Asia, western India, to the Arabian Gulf and down to the East African coast the winds allowed trade to take place and these chests are their testament.
Our family owns an Arab chest. It was purchased over 60 years ago in Zanzibar. Nowadays Arab chests are collectors items, found in the museums of the African coast and old houses of the Arabian Peninsula, particularly of Oman. The diverse origins of the solid wooden, brass-studded and plated chests that are called ‘Arab’ chests are deep in history. Research by a collector, Sheila Unwin, has revealed some of these cultural roots. The chests were trade items that came from the West Indian coast, from Surat down past Bombay. Local craftsmen made the chests from teak, rosewood and shisham. They were exported to Arabia and some were transported onwards down the coast to Africa. The chests were often the prized possessions of the dhow captains, the nakhodas.
The Portuguese had brought their own sea chests with them when they sailed into the Indian Ocean in the 16Century. These invaders devastated the region, wiping out cities, overpowering local rulers and building their sea-facing forts from Kilwa in Africa, Muscat in Oman to Goa in India. Their chests were on fretted stands and local craftsmen admired and adopted this design into their chest making. There is a golden16th Century Chinese screen painting depicting Portuguese traders arriving in China. The high backed caravel is filled with people offloading boxes of trading goods. Two sumptuously dressed Chinese officials are seated on the shore observing the activity. Clearly drawn at their feet is an ‘Arab’ chest.
The Dutch were the next conquerors and brought their camphorwood sea chests to India. From them the ‘Arab’ chest inherited the brass knobs and backplates. The Chinese gave the chest makers the idea of the ingenious three-ring-padlocks and the internal cash boxes or till boxes were probably copied English chests.
When the simple chests reached Oman brass decoration could be added according to the wishes of the owner. In the simple Arab houses of the Gulf, there was no furniture. Persian carpets decorated the floors and embossed niches held items of decorative value. Valuable possessions were kept in the prized chests and a bride would leave home with her valuables, her dowry, in a new chest – often painted red to symbolise fertility.
In the 19 century Zanzibar grew rich on the monsoonal trade. The winds also brought invaders to her shores. It was a safe port with rich fishing grounds, fertile soils and it facilitated the trade from the east and from the rich African interior. Zanzibar had many chests for sale in the old days. They arrived with the NE Monsoon that blows from October to March. It was where our family bought the chest that graced our home.
It came from a tiny Stonetown shop or dukka along Portuguese Alley, now called Gizenga Street. Recently I opened the chest’s lid to see if it had a secret drawer under the small till box. It did. Inside was a piece of paper, yellowed and insect eaten. The writing was in Arabic, beautifully scripted. A friend did the translation and explained that it was a prayer, a dua, a promise to Allah. I returned it in the drawer where the previous owner had put it for safekeeping. With the chest, it had travelled a long way."
Dance of the Moors Mask
Ht. 29 1/2"
20th Century

Pre-Columbian Highlights Fall 2012

Seated Maternity Figure
Ht. 13 1/2"
Jalisco, West Mexico
200 BC to 200 AD
Ht. 10"
Maya, Guatemala
Kerr Number:  532
"Vase Type:  Polychrome
Figure Count:  6
Height:  25.5 cm
Diameter:  13.4 cm
Circumference:  43 cm
MS Number:  0
Publications:  The Face of Ancient America p.102
Calender Round:  
Comments:  Suggests parley of two sides in a war by Ah K'hunob  CLICK for the shape of the vessel
Iconographic Elements:  Ah K'hun, orator, Dwarf, Inscription - other text, Ruler, king, cacique, governor, potentate, Shield, pakal, spears, Primary Standard Sequence, Battle Standard"

Hacha Style Ocarina
Ht. 3 1/2"
Veracruz, East Mexico
AD 500 - 900
Human Effigy Whistle Fragment
Ht.  6"
AD 600 - 900
Maya Guatemala
Sun God Representation
Seated Figure
Ht. 12"
Jalisco, West Mexico
200 BC to 200 AD




Oceanic Art Highlights - Fall 2012

Ht. 42 1/2"
Lumi,  East Sepik, Papua New Guinea
 1st Quarter 20th Century

Mindja Figure
Nukuma, Washkuk Hills, East Sepik Province, Papua New Guinea
Ht. 68” First half 20th century
Wood, paint
Two groups live on and around the Ambunti Mountains: the Kwoma and the Nukuma. They are often incorrectly referred to collectively as the Waskuk or Washkuk. Both cultures are yam-based, unlike the sago-based cultures of the Middle Sepik. The annual yam cult cycle uses three terms to refer to the complex rituals and to the objects and social groups associated with them. Yina, Mindja and Nogwi carvings are linked with their respective ceremonies which take place after the yam harvest. "A variety of carvings are made by the Kwoma and Nukuma people that are used in both age grade rituals and ceremonies relating to the cultivation and harvesting of yams. Mindja, one of three types of carvings are recognizable by their large size, prominent nose, and rows of upturned spikes or spears that represent snakes. Mindja carvings are said to represent water spirits living in the lakes that are sometimes seen just under the surface of the water. Each Kwoma clan owned a pair that was shown in rotation from year to year. The term mindja applies to the rituals, the sacred objects, and the social divisions." (Newton 1971:82-87)
Bark Painting
Ht 17 1/2 W 34 1/4"
YIRAWALA (c.1897-1976), artist and Aboriginal elder, was a member of the Naborn clan of Gunwinggu language speakers, whose traditional lands lie in the Marugulidban (also called Morgaleetbah) region straddling the Liverpool River, south-west of Maningrida, Northern Territory

Ht. 21 1/2"
Murik Lakes, Lower Ramu River, Papua New Guinea
"This mask is used in ceremonial dances. The mask is not worn directly on the face, but is part of a towering cane dance framework (tumbuan) covered with thousands of feathers.
We saw 6 frames being constructed in 1986 at Banis Pig near Bosmun. A large area (banis) had been fenced off with high woven mats (blind) in front of the men's house. Only initiated men worked in this banis. Each frame was about 12 feet (4 meters) tall and quite narrow like a bulbous spire. Brilliant red, yellow, white and black feathers were applied in flat, over-lapping layers with the same density that flowers are put on a Rose Bowl Parade float. Photos of similar tumbuans from this area show fan and cone shapes.
The tumbuans were to dance at the next full moon, about two weeks away, if they were finished. Otherwise, they would appear the following moon. The men didn't mind if we watched them work, but no photos were allowed. During the ceremony, colorful leaves, flowers, fruits and massive displays of white shell jewelry are added to each costume. A long, full grass skirt is tied along the lower edge of the cane to conceal the dancer inside."

Monday, November 05, 2012

American Indian Art Highlights Fall 2012

Dough Bowl
Kiua - Cochiti
Diam. 18 1/2"
"These two pueblos are the most northeastern of the Keresan language villages. They lie just to the south of Tewa villages and accordingly have felt strong ceramic influences from those neighbors. After the Indian revolt of 1680 this influence became especially strong. Both Santo Domingo and Cochiti discontinued their manufacture of glazeware. For awhile they imported pottery from their Puname (early Zia) and Tewa area, and then gradually these pueblos began to make their own copes of the Tewa styles, using carbon paint for the Tewa-like decorations. The classic type of Tewa-like pottery at Santo Domingo and Cochiti bars the Kiua Polychrome. Kiua is the Indian name for Santo Domingo, and the type was made there principally in the period from 1760 to the present. At Cochiti also the type began about 1760 but by 1830 showed signs of evolving into a different one. By 1850 the style was so distinct that we give it the name Cochiti Polychrome (see below).
Cochiti Pueblo
The pottery type known as Cochiti Polychrome developed out of nearly one hundred years of the Kiua Polychrome tradition. By 1850 certain definitive Cochiti characteristics were discernible, principally in design. Cochiti motifs are isolated decorations, often with little relation to one another. The lines are finer than on Kiua Polychrome, giving the motifs a lighter, fussier appearance. A typical Cochiti feature is the habit of embellishing the encircling framing lines with pendant figures, usually simple arcs or triangles, but sometimes enigmatic, complicated adaptations of older feather motifs.
Santo Domingo Pueblo
When some of the potters of Santo Domingo finally began to break from the traditional styles of Kiua Polychrome, the departure was much less extreme than at Cochiti, as the pot on the left shows. The resulting vessels, known as Santo Domingo Polychrome, are distinguished from Kiua Polychrome as follows: *The jars are relatively tall, *decoration on the jars is usually not broken up into panels or bands, *red is frequently used in the motifs, *decoration is often naturalistic, with birds and foliage usually predominant, *bowls are rare, few being made. The center picture and the one on the right are more recent pieces." Larry Frank
Piptu-Wu-uti kachina doll
Ht. 9 1/4"
c. 1940 - 1960
Hopi, Hopi Pueblo,
Otis Dozier Collection, Dallas
Piptu-Wu-uti is the female companion of Piptuka, a clown.

"Pueblo Clowns (sometimes called sacred clowns) is a generic term for jester or trickster in the Kachina religion practiced by the Pueblo Indians of the southwestern USA. There are a number of figures in the ritual practice of the Pueblo people. Each has a unique role and belongs to separate Kivas (secret societies or confraternities), and each has a name that differs from one mesa or pueblo to another. They perform during the spring and summer fertility rites. Among the Hopi there are five figures who serve as clowns: the Payakyamu, the Koshare (or Koyaala or Hano Clown), the Tsuku, the Tatsiqto (or Koyemshi or Mudhead) and the Kwikwilyak. With the exception of the Koshare, each is a kachinam or personification of a spirit. It is believed that when a member of a kiva dons the mask of a kachinam, he abandons his personality and becomes possessed by the spirit. Each figure performs a set role within the religious ceremonies; often their behavior is comic, lewd, scatological, eccentric and alarming. Among the Zuni, to enter the Ne'wekwe order, one is initiated "by a ritual of filth-eating"; "mud and excrement are smeared on the body for the clown performance, and parts of the performance may consist of sporting with excreta, smearing and daubing it, or drinking urine and pouring it on one another". Wikepedia
Mickey Mouse kachina doll 
Ht. 8"
c. 1960
Hopi, Hopi Pueblo,
Otis Dozier Collection, Dallas
When Disney memorabilia became collectible, objects like this Mickey doll became sought after by collectors. As a consequence these dolls have become quite rare on the market.
Owl kachina
c. 1950
Hopi, Hopi Pueblo
Otis Dozier Collection, Dallas
Acquired from Mrs. Fred Kabotie 1952
"Otto Pentewa is a name any collector of Hopi Katsina dolls recognizes.  They may never have seen him or seen his signature on a Katsina doll, but they recognize his work at a glance.  He was born at the village of Oraibi on the Hopi Reservation at the end of the 19th century.  He was of the Katsina Clan and his Hopi name was Sikovaya, which translates to Pumpkin Flower. One of the distinguishing designs on his Katsina carvings is the pumpkin flower he generally painted on the loin cloth of the doll.  It was his signature. Shortly after the turn of the century, he married and moved to the village of Kykotsmovi where he and his wife raised eleven children.  His son, Richard Pentewa, continued in the tradition of carving Katsina dolls. " Adobe Gallery
Serpent Bowl
Diameter 9 1/2"
AD 1150 - 1450
Ramos Polychrome
Casas Grandes, New Mexico
"Ramos Polychrome represents the pinnacle of achievement in Casas Grandes ceramics. Although the focus was around Paquimé, the type was more widespread than any other, covering the entire range of the Casas Grandes culture. Vessels have well painted, carefully executed designs, balancing red and black solid and linear elements.
Paste: White to brown
Temper: Fine sand
Surface: Highly smoothed
Forms: Bowls, jars, effigies, vases and eccentrics
Design: Wide band extending from rim to well below shoulder, framed by matched red and black lines, interlocking elements in red and black, divided into panels by diagonal parallel lines." Logan Museum, Beloit College



African Art Highlights Fall 2012


Ht. 38 1/2"
Asante, Ghana
"Ntan (en-tan) bands were popular among the Asante peoples of Ghana between 1920s and 1950s. They performed on occasions such as naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals and traditional festivals—any event where entertainment was needed. This is in contrast to other musical instruments and performances that were reserved for the court. The term ntan (meaning “bluff” in Twi) does not refer to the drum itself, but rather to the entire event that featured music and the display of carved figurative sculptures representing the chief, queen mother and members of the court. Reflecting the colonial presence of the times on the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), the sculptural entourage also included figures of colonial officers. " National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution
Bronze Pendant
Ht. 6 3/4"
Benin, Nigeria
In Benin the number three is associated with otherworldly powers. U-shaped waist pendants depicting the oba supported by two attendants were worn in sets of three by the oba and certain high-ranking officials. The abundant coral regalia worn by the oba, at center, identify him with Olokun, the god of the waters.  The supernaturally charged stone bead (ivie egbo), worn at his chest, signifies his legitimacy.
ex Jay Last Collection, Beverly Hills, CA.

Diam. 11'
Eket, Nigeria
"The Eket are really a subgroup of the Ibibio, and their history is best described in that context. The Ibibio have lived in the Cross River area of modern day Nigeria for several hundreds of years, and though written information about them only exists in colonial records from the late 1800s on, oral traditions have them in the region much earlier than this. The Ibibio were very resistant to colonial invasions, and it was not until after the end of World War I that the British were able to gain a strong foothold in the region. Even at this time, however, the British found it necessary to incorporate Ibibio Ekpo traditions in order to impose indirect rule in the region.  The masks and accouterments of the Ekpo society make up the greatest works of art in Ibibio society. Drumming and music are also important elements in Ekpo ceremonies. The wooden sculpture from this area is often very detailed, and artists are just as likely to capture beauty as they are the hideous forms of evil spirits."


Hombo mask
Ht. 10"
Bwa, Burkina Faso
This mask with sacrificial patine has a center semi circular shaped crest mounted on the forehead and extending over the face terminating at the mouth. This crest represents the comb of a rooster.  The ears are triangular and have feline characteristics. The eyes are outlined by concentric circles and are connected by horizontal parallel lines. The mouth is open with teeth bared. A stylized rectangular element extends from the chin. This is a very fine old mask that has great balance and elegance. Considering the age and use this piece is in very fine condition. These mask reptresented the spirit of Hombo that helped the blacksmiths. Sacrifices were made to the masks.
Cf: Art of the Upper Volta Rivers, Roy, 1987, plate 231 

H -65,1/4inches, W- 17inches D- 11, 1/2 inches
Arussi, Ethiopia
These are erected in South and South central Ethiopia as a memorials to distinguished ancestors, among few ethnic groups, this type being Arussi. There are also various other erected stone memorials, like phallic "Konchi" stones, abstract "Konso" stone carvings, or older stelae, commemorating battle or significant event. As far as I know they where first published in 1952, or so, in an Italian book "My 7 Years Travel Through Abyssinia". After that they where extensively photographed since late 1960's, and published in his books by Swiss Ethiopian studies pioneer- Georg Gerster.  (see "Athiopien- Das Dach Afrikas", 1974, (Zurich) I have done analysis of the soft material they are carved of, by a geologist. It appears to be sedimentary volcanic stone, a porous stone sediment found by river beds trough-out the rift valley. Number of these and other stones where collected in, 70's and 80's by the Institute of Ethiopian studies, and a number by two South African collectors.
Milos Simovic, New York 1999.
German Private collection, Slavka, Jovan Jelovac, Diseldorff, 1987
South African Private Collection, Johanesburg, before 1980
Exhibited- Johanesburg National Gallery 1984 
Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia, Houston Museum of Natural Science 2008

Wedding Hat
Diam. 21"
Zulu, Kwa-zulu, South Africa
c. late 19th century
Cotton, human hair, red ochre over grass-fiber basketry frame
These Zulu hats were presented to a woman at her wedding. As a married woman she would keep this throughout her life and it would only be worn during ceremonial occasions..
Neckrest Dance staff
Ht. 3" W. 20 3/4"
Zulu, South Africa
Early 20th century

Ht. 8"
Makonde, Tanzania
Private Collection Missouri
"The art of the Makonde must be subdivided into different areas. The Makonde traditionally carve household objects, figures and masks. After the 1930s, the Portuguese colonizers and other missionaries arrived at the Makonde plateau. They immediately showed great interest and fascination for the Makonde wood carvings and began to order different pieces, from religious until political “eminences.” The Makonde sculptors, after noticing such interest, decided to carve the new pieces using pau-preto (ebony wood, Diospyros ebenum) and pau-rosa (Swartzia spp.) instead of the soft and non long-lasting wood they had used before. This first contact with the Western culture can be considered to be the first introduction of the classical European style into the traditional Makonde style.Since the 1950s years the socalled Modern Makonde Art has been developed. An essential step was the turning to abstract figures, mostly spirits, Shetani, that play a special role." Wikepedia

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Just Plain Lucky

There is a road along the Cliff Walk in New Port, Rhode Island that most cars navigate successfully. One morning authorities saw this vehicle in amazing condition sitting on the rocks below. The driver must have gone directly to church after this accident.

Endangered Species - Yes Or No

Great Horned Owl

Church on Crete
River House Drina River, Serbia

Tower of Belem, Portugal

Museum President Elsie McCabe Thompson Leaving Museum for African Art in Manhattan

Coming and Going
President of Museum to Quit Her Post


Published: October 5, 2012

After 15 years of working to build a permanent home for the Museum for African Art in Manhattan, the museum’s president, Elsie McCabe Thompson, announced on Friday that she was stepping down “to pursue other career opportunities.”
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Elsie McCabe Thompson of the Museum for African Art.
Breaking news about the arts, coverage of live events, critical reviews, multimedia and more.
 A sortable calendar of noteworthy cultural events in the New York region, selected by Times critics.
 The decision comes after more than three years of financial troubles that have repeatedly delayed the museum’s opening of a new site at Fifth Avenue and 110th Street, on the northern tip of what is known as Museum Mile. The museum needs an additional $10 million to finish construction of its new space in the bottom of a 19-story condominium designed by Robert A. M. Stern. A statement released by the museum announcing Ms. Thompson’s departure said it was “in discussions with several funders to ensure that the project is completed successfully.” The space was originally scheduled to open in 2009, and no new opening date has yet been set. Since its establishment in 1984, the museum has occupied a variety of temporary spaces, most recently a gallery in Long Island City, Queens, that closed in 2005. Ms. Thompson, who has been president since 1997 and who referred to the museum as “my baby,” said in the release that she planned to join the museum’s board of trustees. She could not be reached for additional comment. The deputy director and chief operating officer, Kenita Lloyd, will temporarily oversee the museum, while a committee that will include trustees, advisers and Ms. Thompson undertakes a nationwide search for a replacement, the statement said.
Ms. Thompson’s husband, William C. Thompson Jr., is running for mayor in next year’s election. This year he resigned as chairman of the Battery Park City Authority to focus more on his campaign. A former city comptroller, Mr. Thompson was the Democratic nominee for mayor in 2009.
People close to Ms. Thompson, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because their conversations with her were meant to be private, said she had spoken recently about leaving, partly because the project was near completion and she did not want it to distract from her husband’s campaign. They also said she wanted to start looking for a new job now, because she worried that finding one would be more difficult as the campaign got under way. The chairman of the museum, the real estate developer Bruce Eichner, said in the statement: “While there is still more work ahead to complete this project, we share Elsie’s commitment to opening a cultural beacon for Africa in New York. The board, Elsie and the museum’s supporters are committed to getting the task finished as soon as possible.” The museum reported that it had so far raised $93 million for the project. Ms. Thompson has previously estimated yearly operating costs at $8 million. Ms. Lloyd has said that the museum is hoping to get a significant amount of money for naming rights on the new building. Plans for the museum include an education center, a library, a cafe and a gift shop. The 70,000- square-foot space alone cost $44 million, according to a June 2011 financial statement. That statement also showed that
the museum had received more than $20 million in city and state funds in the previous 12 months.
Ms. Thompson said in the news release: “We have poured our hearts and souls into the museum in order to create an institution of global acclaim. While this is a difficult decision, I leave knowing that much has been accomplished and the museum is in its final stages of development.” Since it closed its Queens site seven years ago, the museum has been organizing and lending exhibitions to other institutions.
David W. Chen contributed reporting.

Roy Rogers Museum Closes

I may be showing my age with this post, but many of us grew up with Roy, Dale, Trigger, and NellyBelle. What can I say... times were simpler then.

The Roy Rogers Museum in Branson, MO has closed its doors forever. The contents of the museum were sold at a public auction. Roy Rogers told his son, if the museum ever operates at a loss, close it
And sell the contents. He complied. Note the follow-on article truly the end of an era. Here is a partial listing of some of the items that were sold at auction...
Roy 's 1964 Bonneville sold for $254,500, it was estimated to Sell between 100 and 150 thousand dollars.
 His script book from the January 14,1953 episode of This Is Your Life sold for $10,000 (EST. $800-$1,000).
A collection of signed baseballs (Pete Rose, Duke Snyder and other greats) sold for $3,750.
A collection of signed bats (Yogi Berra, Enos Slaughter, Bob Feller, and others) sold for $2,750.
Trigger's saddle and bridle sold for $386,500 (EST. 100-150 K).
One of many of Roy 's shirts sold for $16,250 and one of his many cowboy hats sold for $17,500.
One set of boot spurs sold for $10,625. (He never used a set of spurs on Trigger).
A life size shooting gallery sold for $27,500.
Various chandeliers sold from $6,875 to $20,000. Very unique and artistic in their western style.
 Roy's first Boots
A signed photograph by Don Larsen taken during his perfect game in the world series against
The Dodgers on Oct. 8, 1953, along with a signed baseball to Roy from Don, sold for $2,500.
Two fabulous limited edition BB guns in their original boxes with Numerous photos of Roy, Dale, Gabby, and Pat sold for $3,750.
A collection of memorabilia from his shows entertaining the troops in Vietnam sold for $938.
I never knew he was there. His flight jacket sold for $7,500.
His set of dinner ware plates and silverware sold for $11,875.
The Bible they used at the dinner table every night sold for $8,750.
One of several of his guitars sold for $27,500.
Nellybelle sold for $116,500.
 A fabulous painting of Roy, Dale, Pat, Buttermilk, Trigger, and Bullet sold for $10,625.
One of several sets of movie posters sold for $18,750.
A black and white photograph of Gene Autry with a touching inscription
>From Gene to Roy sold for $17,500.
A Republic Productions Poster bearing many autographs of the
People that played in Roy 's movies sold for $11,875.
Dale's horse, Buttermilk (whose history is very interesting) sold below
The presale estimate for $25,000. (EST. 30-40 K).
Bullet sold for $35,000 (EST. 10-15 K). He was their real pet.
Dale's parade saddle, estimated to sell between 20-30 K, sold for $104,500.
One of many pairs of Roy 's boots sold for $21,250.
Trigger sold for $266,500.
 Do you remember the 1938 movie The Adventures of Robinhood,
With Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland? Well Olivia rode Trigger in that movie.
Trigger was bred on a farm co-owned by Bing Crosby.
Roy bought Trigger on a time payment plan for $2,500.
Roy and Trigger made 188 movies together.
Trigger even out did Bob Hope by winning an Oscar in the movie Son of Paleface in 1953.
It is extremely sad to see this era lost forever. Despite the fact that Gene and Roy 's movies,
As well as those of other great characters, can be bought or rented for viewing, today's kids would rather spend their time playing video games. Today it takes a very special pair of parents to raise their kids with the right values and morals. These were the great heroes of our childhood, and they did teach us right from Wrong, and how to have and show respect for each other and the animals that share this earth. You and I were born at the right time. We were able to grow up with these great people even if we never met them. In their own way they taught us patriotism and honor, we learned that lying and Cheating were bad, and sex wasn't as important as love. We learned how to suffer through disappointment and failure and work through it. Our lives were drug free. So it's good-bye to Roy and Dale, Gene and Hoppy, The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Farewell to Sky King and Superman and Sgt. Friday. Thanks to Capt.. Kangaroo, Mr. Rogers and Capt. Noah and all those people whose lives touched ours, and made them better. It was a great ride through childhood.

Auction House - Private Sales - A Very Big Deal Getting Bigger

ArtTrak has been following the increase in private sales by the major auction houses for some time. The trend is certainly gaining momentum as both Christies and Sothebys are now investing in brick and mortar galleries. We have mixed feelings about private sales at the auction houses on many levels. Cursory analysis says that this will give customers more options and the opportunity of having more liquidity in their art collections without having to wait months to be paid. But less transparency in these business transactions does create not only the opportunity but also the incentive for the auction houses to do bad things. We all recall the price fixing scheme that impacted the art market and led to customers viewing auction houses with some skepticism. But in price fixing you do have a choice to play regardless of how the commissions were established. Now as a buyer or seller you really aren't seeing the whole deal and maybe that's not very good. I believe given the opportunity to do bad things most people will. On a more philosophical level we have been made to believe that the auction house is an objective third party acting as a facilitator serving both buyer and seller. Sometimes the interests of the seller and the house do coincide; however, with the emphasis on private sales even this bond is tenuous at best. Business relationships are built on need and the major auction houses will survive quite nicely without most of us.  The only alternatives are gallery owners most of whom definitely need us to survive in a precarious art market. Earning your trust with their loyalty and service may be an important consideration for you to get that second opinion before making big decisions. For those that are not following the art markets closely this can be a precarious time. It is also interesting to note that Sothebys is making their private exhibition gallery invitation only in order to respond to this "high demand". Why would either the buyer or the seller create a high demand for an auction house to create a private gallery unless it was about money. The buyers are certainly not patronizing such an operation because they want an opportunity to pay more. The sellers are not consigning their property because they hope to net less for their objects. Certainly the only incentive on the sell side is getting paid quicker. Cynicism rears its ugly head here for many believe that the auction houses must by the constraints of the business  model make contradictory promises to the buyers and sellers.

In other news, Sotheby’s is opening a new space named “S2” for private sales. Designed by architect Richard Gluckman, S2 is accessible by invitation only. Art Media Agency reports, “This announcement highlights how auction houses are turning more and more to private sales and this investment will allow Sotheby’s to organise exhibitions of its own choice. There has been a massive surge in private sales of late. For example, in the first semester of 2011, Christie’s recorded a whopping 70.5% progression. Therefore, the creation of a private exhibition area is also a way of Sotheby’s responding to this high demand.” Sotheby’s has also launched “Your Art World: The Documentary Series”, exploring the perspectives of various personas under the headings The Artist, The Collector, The Rostrum, and The House. Resembling the PBS series ART:21, “Your Art World” further promotes Sotheby’s as much more than an auction house. Visit the following link for more details:
 Sotheby’s will be hosting a selling exhibition of works by Sam Francis from 17 September – 14 October 2011. This will be our inaugural selling exhibition in our new gallery, S2. The exhibition will coincide with the launch of the Sam Francis Catalogue Raisonné of Canvas and Panel Paintings, 1946 – 1994, published by the Sam Francis Foundation and University of California Press.
 Sotheby’s is pleased to introduce S2, a newly-constructed gallery space within our York Avenue headquarters that is dedicated to special selling exhibitions of contemporary art. Designed by architect Richard Gluckman, who also created the celebrated auction galleries on the 10th floor of our building, S2 will host unique shows that focus on singular artists and themes within the contemporary genre. All of the works on display will be available for private sale, offering a new and exciting dimension to the Sotheby’s experience.
If you’d like a brick-and-mortar demonstration of how profitable private treaty sales have become to Sotheby’s and Christie’s, take an elevator to the 20th floor of 1230 Avenue of the Americas, Christie’s private sales offices and showrooms.
White walls, polished floors, and elegant furnishings provide an attractive place to do business. You can buy and sell everything here from a diamond to a $50-million Picasso.


A few years ago this space was an unrenovated empty shell—those who frequent the auction house previews will recall it was the setting for a terrific 2006 display of some two dozen sculptures from the Judd Foundation, which sold at auction for a total of about $24 million. In May 2008 Christie’s moved its newly purchased dealership, Haunch of Venison, into the space.
Discretion is a key attraction of private sales, so details of individual transactions seldom come to light. That said, the overall figures released publicly are extremely positive. Private sales now account for approximately 10 percent of the turnover from all sales departments at Christie’s. As of June 2012, their year-to-date private sales totaled $661.5 million, which, we are told, represents a 53 percent increase over the same period in 2011.
Sotheby’s, as a publicly traded company, is obliged to release more detailed financial information. Its first-quarter financial results for 2012 show private sales grossing $186.7 million. This represented a whopping 78.6 percent increase over the same three months of the previous year. Private sales look like a long-term breadwinner.
Auction houses have always dabbled in the private sales market, but what we are seeing now is nothing short of a revolution in how art is bought and sold. Auction houses are competing with dealers for consignments on every level, from the big-ticket paintings that make headlines to less valuable objects offered for sale through online galleries and curated selling shows. Sotheby’s even has an exclusive line of diamond jewelry available through its private sales department.
Providing their clients—both buyers and sellers—with more distribution channels makes good business sense. The auction houses have the international staff, so why not leverage it? Some collectors prefer to trade privately because they get around the annoying fee structure of the auctions; others simply like the personalized attention that private treaty sales can command. And then there is discretion.
For the auction houses, private sales have benefits beyond merely allowing them to participate in more transactions. They also build personal relationships among auctioneers and collectors and help the houses keep track of prized items. Two years ago Brett Gorvy, chairman and international head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie’s, brokered the sale of Andy Warhol’s 1962 Statue of Liberty from a Swiss collector to its current American owner. Now that the latter is ready to part with it, Gorvy is in the perfect position to bring in the work to headline the house’s New York sales next month.
As this tale makes clear, auctions are definitely not a thing of the past. Sellers still turn to them in the belief that they can get the top price and maximize profits when an item is put up for bidding—and they are often right. But there is a limit to how many auctions a house can do each year, while the treaty sales can keep expanding without limit. You just need a fancy showroom and staff.
As that growth advances, of course, the houses will face increasing competition. Galleries will continue to dominate the primary market sales of contemporary art, where they play an important role in nurturing careers. And the two big players are finding themselves vying with their own former employees, such as the partners in the formidable new firm of Connery, Pissarro, Seydoux. The ultimate winners are the clients, who now have many more options to be in the game.

Bad Stuff Does Happen

In the last few newsletters I was very critical of the Indiana University Art Museum and their lack of proper care for the Oceanic and African objects bequeathed by Laura and Raymond Wielgus. The security at the Tate was and is certainly better than that in Bloomington, but bad stuff does happen.

Rothko mural defaced by a vandal who scrawled graffiti on the painting at London's Tate Modern

 LONDON (AP).- A vandal scrawled graffiti on a mural by modern American master Mark Rothko at London's Tate Modern on Sunday. The mural, one of Rothko's Seagram series, was defaced when a visitor to the Tate applied "a small area of black paint with a brush to the painting," the gallery said.
A photograph posted on Twitter by a gallery visitor showed words, including the name Vladimir, scrawled in the corner of the painting. The gallery, which attracts 5 million visitors a year, was briefly closed Sunday after the incident. Tate Modern said police were investigating. The graffiti on the painting also appears to read "a potential piece of yellowism." According to an online manifesto, Yellowism is an artistic movement run by two people named Vladimir Umanets and Marcin Lodyga.
This is not the first time an artwork at Tate Modern has been interfered with. In 2000, two Chinese performance artists attempted to urinate on Marcel Duchamp's urinal sculpture "Fountain."
Rothko, who died in 1970, is renowned for his large abstract paintings featuring bold blocks of color. The defaced painting was one of a series intended to decorate the Four Seasons restaurant in New York. Rothko changed his mind about the commission and gave the works to galleries, including the Tate. Earlier this year, Rothko's "Orange, Red, Yellow" sold for almost $87 million at auction in New York.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

LONDON (AP).- British police on Tuesday charged a 26-year-old Polish national with vandalizing a priceless Mark Rothko work at the Tate Modern museum, an act that caused a minor stir in the U.K. art world. Scotland Yard said in a statement that Wlodzimierz Umaniec would appear at south London Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court in south London court on Wednesday charged with one count of "criminal damage in excess of 5,000 pounds (about $8,000)." Umaniec, who also went by the name Vladimir Umanets, was arrested after patrons discovered a scrawl across the bottom of a Rothko mural on Sunday. The Russian-born Rothko was a leading figure in American abstract painting, renowned for large-scale works featuring bold blocks of color, and the vandalism angered many. The artist's children, Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko, said in a statement that they were "greatly troubled" by the incident. While the Tate Modern has said it does not have a price for the defaced piece, another Rothko piece — "Orange, Red, Yellow" — sold for almost $87 million at auction in New York. This is not the first time an artwork at Tate Modern has been interfered with. In 2000, two Chinese performance artists attempted to urinate on Marcel Duchamp's urinal sculpture "Fountain."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Museums and Technology Fall 2012

CHICAGO, IL.- The Art Institute of Chicago's Department of Digital Information and Access and the Department of European Decorative Arts unveiled a new gallery interactive that revolutionizes the museum experience while improving public access to art. LaunchPad is a specially developed platform for the iPad--containing engaging and interactive multimedia resources--that brings three-dimensional objects to life. With the new LaunchPads in the galleries, visitors have at their fingertips basic introductory facts about works of art enhanced by animations, brief video documentaries on techniques and use, and views of the works not possible in the galleries alone. Drawers open, music plays, and objects are assembled and re-assembled right in front of visitors--lending great insight to the original contexts, uses, and construction of works of art from the 16th through the 19th centuries. The new technology and visualization tools debuted on October 28, 2012 with more than 50 objects featured on 25 iPads installed in the Eloise W. Martin Galleries of European Decorative Arts. LaunchPad will also be stationed at 16 kiosks throughout the new Jaharis Galleries of Ancient, Roman, and Byzantine Art when those galleries open to the public on November 11. With this
effort, the Art Institute of Chicago becomes one of the first museums to offer such extensive scholarly and entertaining content--more than 1000 supporting images, 16 videos, and behind-the-scenes glimpses into context and conditions of production of works of art--on a custom platform rooted in the gallery experience. "The decorative arts in a museum have always presented something of a challenge," said Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago. "These objects--chairs, cabinets, tableware--were originally designed to be used but must now be protected so they can be preserved. We are thrilled that we can present these intricate objects in a much richer context through the creative use of technology, thanks to the generosity of Melinda Martin Sullivan and the Eloise W. Martin Legacy Fund. And we are confident that the LaunchPad platform and the resources it contains will be a model not only for other galleries here at the Art Institute but for other museums as well." "LaunchPad has truly been a collaborative effort involving no fewer than 71 professionals across the museum and beyond," said Sam Quigley, project leader for LaunchPad and vice president for collections management, imaging, and information technology. "Working so intimately with Ghenete Zelleke, Samuel and M. Patricia Grober Curator in the Department of European Decorative Arts, and her colleagues, along with videographers, editors, photographers, and researchers has been a monumental, and monumentally satisfying, effort. And our hope is that similar institutions may take up LaunchPad as a model; with our development partners at IMA Labs of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Sandbox Studios, we have been committed to making this an open source platform so that others may benefit from, and build on, what we
have developed." More than two and a half years in development, LaunchPad will offer visitors the chance to get up close to some of the centuries-old objects in the Art Institute's collection and discover their hidden stories through several innovative technologies. Users will be able to virtually "handle" objects, turning them over to examine the exquisite artistry on each and every side, through advanced 360-degree imaging. And animated videos of works such as the magnificent multi-chambered Augsburg Cabinet will allow users to open doors and drawers and see the beautiful carvings in the interiors and the pharmaceutical tools and bottles that are stored inside.
For the LaunchPad platform, teams at the museum have additionally created more than a dozen videos that focus on the skilled craftsmanship that went into making the pieces, providing an intimate view into the actual processes and techniques behind these objects. One such film captures Patrick Edwards, one of very few Americans trained in traditional 18th-century French marquetry, or wood inlay, recreating sections of an intricate coffer by André Charles Boulle in his San Diego studio--without a power tool in sight. Another video records two artists, one from the School of the Art Institute's ceramics department, fashioning a replica of an earthenware vase step by step, from throwing to painting to glazing. With its host of unique resources--which even includes an 18th-century recipe for rabbit stew for the museum's rabbit-shaped porcelain tureen--LaunchPad will enhance visitors' experience and appreciation of the museum's rich holdings of European decorative arts and offer a model for creating the most productive intersection possible between the technology of today and the creative expression of the past. LaunchPad was designed and written by staff from numerous departments at the Art Institute of Chicago. Its open source software was developed by IMA Labs at the Indianapolis Museum of Art with project coordination and management by Sandbox Studios of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The software is based on the TAP project, which is a collection of free and open source tools supporting the creation and delivery of mobile tours.  LaunchPad was originally conceived for the galleries of European Decorative Arts by Melinda Martin Sullivan and was created with a grant from her late mother, Eloise W. Martin.

Resources you can use
NEW YORK, NY.- The Metropolitan Museum of Art today launched MetPublications, a major online resource that offers unparalleled in-depth access to the Museum’s renowned print and online publications, covering art, art history, archaeology, conservation, and collecting. Beginning with nearly 650 titles published from 1964 to the present, this new addition to the Met's website, will continue to expand and could eventually offer access to nearly all books, Bulletins, and Journals published by the Metropolitan Museum since its founding in 1870, as well as online publications.

Readers may also locate works of art from the Met’s collections that are included within the
publications and access the most recent information about these works in the Collections section of the Museum’s website. “MetPublications presents a rich and fascinating record of the last five decades of Met scholarship,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum. “I am particularly pleased that this new portal allows us to share the Met’s publications with a global audience. It will extend the reach of our past, current, and future publications, and give new life to out-of-print volumes.” MetPublications includes a description and table of contents for almost every title, as well as information about the authors, reviews, and awards, and links to related Met titles by author and theme. Current in-print titles may be previewed and fully searched online, with links to purchase the books. The full contents of almost all other titles may be read online, searched, or downloaded as a PDF, at no cost. Books can be read and
searched through the Google Book program, an initiative to maximize access to the Met’s books.
A unique feature of MetPublications is that many out-of-print books are now available through print-on-demand capabilities, with copies offered for purchase through Yale University Press. At the launch of the program, 140 titles will be available in print-on-demand paperbound copies with digitally printed color reproductions. Readers are also directed to every title located in the online library catalogues WorldCat, a global catalogue of library collections; and WATSONLINE, the Metropolitan Museum’s catalogue of its own libraries’ holdings.

MetPublications, as of today's launch, allows users to:
* Search 643 books published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art about art and art history by title, author, keyword, publication type, theme, or collection.
* Read, download, and search the full contents of 368 out-of-print titles.
* Preview and search the contents of 272 titles that are in print or otherwise unavailable to read fully.
* Obtain print-on-demand copies of 140 out-of-print titles.
* Access two online publications, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History and Connections.
* Find links to locate all titles at local libraries through WorldCat, and on the Metropolitan Museum library catalogue WATSONLINE.
* Find book descriptions, tables of contents, author biographies, press releases and reviews, awards, and related bibliographies by author, theme, and keyword.
* Explore works of art from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection featured in all titles with links to updated information about each work. This makes it possible to provide updated information about older titles,
linking earlier with current scholarship.
* Rediscover the scholarship of 50 years of publishing dedicated to the arts from this encyclopedic Museum.
Publications to be added to the program on a continuing basis include recently published books and online publications, and print titles published by the Metropolitan Museum from 1870 to 1964, as well as print-on-
demand options for out-of-print titles.
MetPublications was created by the staff of the Metropolitan Museum’s Editorial and Digital Media departments.

Upcoming Museum Pre-Colmbian Exhibitions

CLEVELAND, OH.- The Cleveland Museum of Art presents Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes, the first North American exhibition to explore the art of the Wari, a cosmopolitan society that existed in the Andes Mountains of Peru between 600 and 1000 AD and is widely regarded today as ancient Peru’s first empire. The groundbreaking exhibition examines this relatively unknown episode in ancient South American history through 150 masterful artworks representing a variety of Wari media. Organized and presented by the Cleveland Museum of Art, Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes is on view from October 28, 2012 through January 6, 2013. The exhibition will travel to Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. “This exhibition exemplifies the museum’s commitment to original scholarship and exploring all areas of its renowned comprehensive collection,” said David Franklin, the Sarah S. and Alexander M. Cutler director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “We’re excited to share these rare objects, most gathered together for the first time, with the Northeast Ohio community and beyond.” Visitors to Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes will learn that the history of South American civilization long predates the more well-known Inca of the 15th and 16th centuries, and that artwork is crucial to understanding early human endeavors in this hemisphere. Like other ancient Andean people, the Wari did not develop a writing system and used works of art, including elaborate textiles, as vehicles to communicate their ideas about the human, natural and supernatural realms. The exhibition is organized thematically and focuses on some of the mechanisms that the Wari used to build and maintain a complex society. For instance, Wari elites seem to have hosted lavish feasts and beer-drinking events that involved finely made ceramics decorated with images of important Wari deities, among other things. Such events likely helped the
Wari to forge alliances with important guests. Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes contains superior examples of Wari artwork selected from more than forty public and private collections in Canada, Europe, Peru and the United States, including the Ethnologisches Museum in Berlin, Lima’s Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología e Historia in Lima, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. All major Wari media are represented in this comprehensive exhibition: ceramics; ornaments made of precious inlays or of gold and silver; small stone and wood sculptures; and intricately woven textiles that are among the finest ever made in
the Andean region. The objects are of the highest aesthetic quality and cultural significance, and many have never or only rarely been seen outside of the countries where they now reside.
The remarkable artistic and cultural accomplishments of the Wari haven’t received the attention that they deserve,” stated Susan E. Bergh, the exhibition organizer and curator of Pre-Columbian and Native North American art at the Cleveland Museum of Art. “I’m delighted to be part of the effort to introduce this important ancient American civilization to U.S. audiences.” Highlights of Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes include: Bag with Human Face, 600–1000. Acquired recently by the Cleveland Museum of Art, this bag is made from animal hide, an ancient Andean artistic medium that is now rare due to the poor survival of this material in an extreme climate. The bag flares into a decorated panel to which a three-dimensional lifelike human face, made of hardened hide, is stitched. The youthful face, which may represent an individual or a social group, is compelling: the gaze is direct and candid and the lips part slightly, as though in speech. Still-lustrous tresses of human hair fall from beneath a cap. Figure Pendant, 600–1000. Many Wari personal ornaments are made of intricate, brightly colored mosaics attached with a resinous adhesive to a variety of media. This rare figure from the Kimbell Museum of Art in Fort Worth is pierced for suspension, perhaps from a necklace. The figure’s garment seems to represent a tapestry-woven tunic that, together with the large, circular ear ornaments, identifies the figure as an elite male. Materials range from the silver of the headdress to colored stones such as lapis lazuli and shells, including Spondylus oyster shell that had great ritual and economic value. Panel, probably a Hanging, from Corral Redondo, 600–1000. Textiles covered with brilliant feathers of rain forest birds are among the most striking works created by artists in Pre-Columbian Peru. This large panel, from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is made of the feathers of the blue-and-yellow macaw and was found in an impressive buried offering that may have commemorated either an elite Wari burial or an important human sacrifice. It is one of 96 similar panels from the offering site. Tapestry-Woven Tunic with Staff-Bearing Creature in Profile, 600–1000. Wari tapestry-woven tunics are known for their beauty and artistic complexity. In antiquity, they were forms of wealth and prestige, serving as the attire of elite Wari men, including rulers. This exquisite, sleeved tunic from the Brooklyn Museum, however, is a miniature that probably had devotional purposes. It is exceptionally finely woven with the image of a supernatural creature whose features mingle human and animal traits. Urn with Staff Deities, 600–1000. This large vessel, from the Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología e Historia in Lima, may have been used to serve lavish feasts that the Wari hosted in order to establish alliances with elite guests. The interior and exterior of the urn are painted with images of the deity who was the focus of Wari state religion. Appendages radiate from the head and both hands hold a staff, a powerful symbol of both divine and human authority. The urn was reconstructed from fragments found in a three-ton offering of ceramic vessels that were deliberately shattered and buried in antiquity. Warrior Plaque, 600–1000. Among Wari ornaments are impressive fine metal plaques that originally may have been mounted on a backing of some kind, such as a textile. This plaque from the Museum of Fine Arts,
Houston takes the shape of a sumo-like warrior who carries an axe and rectangular shield. This warrior’s high status is indicated by silver from which he is made and the elite garments that he wears: a four-cornered hat and a tie-dyed tunic covered with interlocked hooks.
PRINCETON, NJ.- Dancing into Dreams: Maya Vase Painting of the Ik’ Kingdom offers an intimate glimpse into a world rich with courtly intrigue, portrayed on exquisitely painted eighth-century chocolate drinking cups from a Maya center located in present-day Guatemala. Complementing the Princeton University Art Museum’s important holdings of Ik’ vessels with loans of select masterpieces from other collections, this exhibition both elucidates the politics and dynastic history of the Ik’ kingdom and reveals the vital role of master artists in these schemes. Ik’ vessels comprise an extraordinary and sophisticated history of artistic achievement. During a brief period of time from 700 to 800 C.E., in a discrete locale in the Central Maya lowlands, a critical mass of aesthetic

and social trends nurtured a flourishing artistic culture. Artists enjoyed exceptional creative license to develop personal styles while adhering to the tenets of regional and local conventions (as well as the whims of royal patrons). Several artists made their individual contributions to courtly visual culture and to inter-kingdom politics more explicit by signing their creations, a practice instituted in the ancient Americas only among the Maya of this region. These works often commemorated shared rituals and rites of passage and include descriptions of people, events, games, sport, local wildlife and lore in elegant imagery and calligraphic writing. Recent scholarly breakthroughs in the decoding of these hieroglyphs make it possible to determine both their ceremonial uses and much about the people involved in their production, including royal patrons and noble artists. According to exhibition curator Bryan R. Just, Ph.D., Peter Jay Sharp, Class of 1952, Curator and Lecturer in the Art of the Ancient Americas, “This breathes new life and touchingly evocative personality into these ancient works of art and the people who made, inspired and used them.” Because the works were largely designed for viewing in social settings, they provide a compelling window on human interaction within a complex and sophisticated culture that flourished for millennia before Europeans arrived in the Americas. Maya painters of the Ik’ kingdom experimented intensely with realistic representation, often departing from the broader Maya tradition of the idealization of faces and bodies to capture individualized portraits. They employed pigments in technically sophisticated ways, producing naturalistic coloration and line work that depict accurate body proportions, evoke figural mass, and suggest graceful and subtle movement. The formal similarities among these vessels both suggest that they were produced by artists who had regular contact with each other and reflect a keen sense of their audiences. They share a regional style and aesthetic—a contention supported by new epigraphic and archaeological research. “The Ik’ kingdom was the nexus of a very special moment in ancient Maya art history,” Just says, “Unlike most Maya kingdoms, where one all-powerful king ruled, multiple Ik’ kings seem to have shared that role. More kings required more artists to make fine objects for them. This in turn nurtured artistic competition, innovation and sometimes emulation.” Due to the durability of ceramics and their employment of storytelling through glyphs and images, they represent a compelling form of documentary evidence of the cultural, artistic and linguistic riches of the Maya people. The Ik’ kingdom vessels bear testament to the society’s relationship to art, ritual, social interaction and political succession, as well as to the tastes, aspirations and foibles of the ruling classes through the eyes of the artists who so intently observed them. Dancing into Dreams also offers an intriguing vantage point from which to consider archaeological practice over time—the practical and ethical challenges that confront each generation of scholars, collectors, museum curators and public audiences hungry for insight into lost worlds, their visual splendors and what they can teach us.  October 6, 2012 – February 17, 2013
HOUSTON (AP).- Some might prepare for the end of the world by checking off items on their bucket list. But at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, curators are launching an exhibit designed to demystify the Maya and debunk the myth that the ancient culture predicted doomsday on Dec. 21, 2012. Visitors will walk darkened halls lined with pottery, jade carvings and black-and-white rubbings of jungle monuments, all tied in some way to the sophisticated Maya calendar. They'll sit in replicas of large, mural-filled buildings that still grace the jungles of Mexico. And they should come away with at least one thought: The sun will rise on Dec. 22. "The calendar is there, and it will continue, so nobody ought to be afraid of what Dec. 21 will bring because there will be a Dec. 22 and, yes, there will be a Christmas," said Dirk Van Tuerenhout, curator of the "Maya 2012 Prophecy Becomes History" exhibit opening Friday. Nearly every item on display circles back to the Maya calendars: complex, cyclical countdowns that helped an ancient people who dwelled in the jungles, mountains and coastal regions of Central America track crucial events — especially the rain — and build large cities, some with as many as 90,000 people. The exhibit takes visitors back nearly 3,500 years. Murals carefully reconstructed by Yale University depict images in the jungle monuments in Bonampak in the Mexican state of Chiapas — such as the Maya celebrating the induction of a new heir to the throne — all on a blood-red backdrop. Stone carvings and rubbings depict anniversaries and special events. Replicas of large pyramids explain how the Maya tracked the sun's progress in the sky, giving ancient astronomers the power to know when the rainy season would begin and when to plant the corn. The exhibit explains the calendars through videos showing the wheels introduced by Europeans to wed the Maya count with their own, as well as Maya inscriptions and writings. It shows how the Maya calendars — while advanced and complex — largely focused on the daily needs of a society by counting what we call days, months and years. "So you could have time to get your festivals organized and your king ready to bleed and your sacrifices, so the astronomer actually controlled the timekeeping of the Maya," said Carolyn Sumners, the museum's vice president for astronomy, who helped create a 3D movie to accompany the exhibit. "The power of that priest and the power of that king depended on feeding these people." The Maya did this with several calendars, each with a different count. The "ritual" cycle was 260 days long, the time between the planting of the corn, or possibly, the time from human conception to birth, experts say. They also had a 365-day calendar, similar to our own, and the two met once every 52 years, which also matched the average life expectancy of a person living at that time, said Rebecca Storey, an anthropologist at the University of Houston. The king, however, needed a "long count" to create a legacy, Sumners explained. It is this count, which begins with Maya creation and ends three days before Christmas Eve, that is the focus of the end-of-the-world beliefs. This count is broken up into 13, 400-year segments, or baktuns. The last one ends on Dec. 21, 2012, and the ancient Maya believed that on Dec. 22 they would start counting again from zero, Storey said. The date coincidentally lines up with a rare event. In 2012, the sun will pass through the center of the Milky Way during the winter solstice, when it is at its weakest — an event that occurs every 26,000 years, Sumners said. This connection, experts believe, might be behind some of the doomsday scenarios; however, there is no evidence the Maya were aware this astronomical phenomenon fell on the same day as the end of their long count. "Most of the Maya scholars think it comes from the Christian West where the whole idea of doomsday and apocalypse is an important part of Christianity," Storey said. "It's mostly outsiders that have made that link that somehow the end of a time cycle can be a time of destruction."
The Maya ended their long count at 13 because it is, for them, a sacred number, Storey said. They believe the end of a count is a time of renewal, and this will be the theme of many of the modern-day Maya celebrations to be held in Central American cities on Dec. 21, she added. In reality, the Maya did suffer an "apocalypse," said Sumners, but it occurred around 900 A.D., when the classic Mayan civilization collapsed. It appears years of drought had stopped the rain. "The reason it was such a catastrophe for them, such a collapse that they never really recovered from, it was that they verbuilt," Sumners said. "They did not create a sustainable culture if the rains didn't come, and that's what we face today."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.