This vintage version of the classic Big Boy sign once tempted hungry travelers on old Route 40, east of St. Louis. Image courtesy David Hutson/Neon Time.

Neon art lights up the night

The horizontal bands on this 9-inch vase from the early 1950s is a feature known as Tiffin Optic. It’s supported by a Manzoni foot. Image by Tom Hoepf.

Tiffin Glass Goes Modern

Martin Lewis, 'Quarter of Nine, Saturday's Children M.78)', signed in pencil and on plate, 9.75x12.5 inches. Image courtesy Clark's Fine Art Auctioneers Inc.

Spotlight on signed Martin Lewis etching in Clark’s Feb. 8 sale

Martin Lewis, 'Quarter of Nine, Saturday's Children M.78)', signed in pencil and on plate, 9.75x12.5 inches. Image courtesy Clark's Fine Art Auctioneers Inc.

Martin Lewis, ‘Quarter of Nine, Saturday’s Children M.78)’, signed in pencil and on plate, 9.75×12.5 inches. Image courtesy Clark’s Fine Art Auctioneers Inc.

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. – Clark’s Fine Art & Auctioneers’ next art auction, on Feb. 8, 2009, features an outstanding etching by Australian-born American printmaker Martin Lewis (1881-1962). Titled Quarter of Nine, Saturday’s Children, it is a strong impression, signed in pencil and on the plate, and measures 9¾ inches by 12½ inches.

Martin Lewis (1881-1962) left home at the age of 15, subsequently studying art under Julian Ashton at the art society’s school in Sydney. In 1900 he left Australia for the United States, settling in New York. There he found work in commercial illustration; his first job was painting stage decorations for William McKinley’s Presidential campaign of 1900.

Lewis’ earliest known etching is dated 1915, however the level of skill exhibited in the work suggests he had been working in the medium for some time previously.

In 1920 he decided to travel to Japan, where for eight months he learned oil and watercolor painting. In 1925, he returned to etching and produced most of his best-known works in the 10-year period to follow. Particularly noteworthy were his series on Japan and New York.

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Mid-15th century ring from French-Flanders in the Gothic International Style, probably made at the French court. Image courtesy Les Enluminures - Wartski.

Roman to Renaissance bling: Ancient rings in London exhibition

Mid-15th century ring from French-Flanders in the Gothic International Style, probably made at the French court. Image courtesy Les Enluminures - Wartski.

Mid-15th century ring from French-Flanders in the Gothic International Style, probably made at the French court. Image courtesy Les Enluminures – Wartski.

LONDON – Roman to Renaissance, an exhibition devoted to a private collection of 35 rings dating from 300 to 1600 AD, will be staged by the Paris gallery Les Enluminures at the venue of London dealer Wartski, 14 Grafton St., May 12-22.

The collection comprises fine examples of rings from the Merovingian, Byzantine, Medieval and Renaissance periods including marriage rings, seal rings, stirrup rings, tart mould rings, iconographic rings, merchant rings and gemstone rings. This exhibition presents an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a fully documented collection.

The collection was formed over two decades by Sandra Hindman, professor emerita of art history at Northwestern University and owner of Les Enluminures, a gallery in Paris and Chicago specialising in illuminated manuscripts and works of art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Starting with a small French private collection, Hindman has assembled a coherent group that represents the high points in the history of the ring from the Late Antique period to the end of the Renaissance, including key examples of museum quality.   

The tradition of collecting rings dates to the 17th century when their significance was first appreciated in Europe. Rings shed light on vanished worlds and bring their former owners and the skilled craftsmen back to life. Some rings are intensely personal, particularly betrothal, wedding and mourning rings, while others denote the status of their owners: monarchs, nobles, those who held high office in the church, for example, and rich merchants.

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Feds return ancient jar to NM pueblo

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – The U.S. Attorney’s Office and investigators with the Bureau of Land Management returned an ancient clay jar to its rightful owners Wednesday, nearly three years after two men tried to steal it from an archaeological site in western New Mexico.

Dignitaries of Acoma Pueblo accepted the jar, called an olla, during a brief ceremony.

“This pot that sits before us today has a lot of meaning behind it,” Acoma Pueblo Gov. Chandler Sanchez said. “It’s a part of our ancestors. It’s a part of who we are as Acoma people. We certainly with open arms accept it back.”

The jar was made sometime between 900 and 1250 A.D. Archeologists believe it may have originally served as a vessel for food left for travelers along the Zuni-Acoma trail.

An Acoma conservation officer, Norman Torivio, spotted a suspicious vehicle near the El Malpais area south of Grants in April 2006. After scanning the badlands with binoculars, he spotted two men walking in the distance. One carried something.
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Suspect charged in Shakespeare First Folio theft

LONDON (AP) – British police charged a book dealer Wednesday with stealing a rare First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays from a university library a decade ago.

Police in Durham in northeast England say the 1623 volume is worth about 3 million pounds ($4.2 million). It was among seven centuries-old books and manuscripts stolen from a display case at Durham University library in 1998.

The book was recovered after a man walked into the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. last June and asked for its authenticity to be checked. Library staff contacted police, who traced the man who had brought in the book and arrested Raymond Scott, 51, a book and antiques dealer from the Durham area.

Scott has denied theft and told reporters that he bought the volume in Cuba.

He was charged with theft and handling stolen goods in relation to the folio, and with four other counts of theft and handling stolen goods relating to a driver’s license, credit cards and a personal organizer.
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Crystal Bridges Museum scale model. Image copyright John Horner. Courtesy CrystalBridges.org.

Crystal Bridges Museum’s director resigns

Crystal Bridges Museum scale model. Image copyright John Horner. Courtesy CrystalBridges.org.

Crystal Bridges Museum scale model. Image copyright John Horner. Courtesy CrystalBridges.org.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) – The director of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art won’t be sticking around for the $50 million museum’s opening.

Bob Workman announced his resignation Jan. 26, saying the workload involved in getting the museum ready for its opening next year was too much.

“If this is all I can think and breathe and do for the next five to seven years, I just don’t see that in my future,” Workman told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Workman has pursued numerous works for the museum’s collection, but the checkbook of patron Alice Walton has not been enough to land some of those he sought and that led to some protracted battles with painting owners.

Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia fought off an attempt by Crystal Bridges to acquire The Gross Clinic by Thomas Eakins, raising $68 million to keep the masterpiece. Crystal Bridges settled for another Eakins painting, Portrait of Professor Benjamin H. Rand, bought for an undisclosed price.

The museum also wanted to display works by Georgia O’Keeffe that are in storage at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., but the effort got bogged down in a court battle.

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Obama 2008 campaign poster, 'Hope,' by Shepard Fairey.

Curators stumping for museum-quality Obama artifacts

Obama 2008 campaign poster, 'Hope,' by Shepard Fairey.

Obama 2008 campaign poster, ‘Hope,’ by Shepard Fairey.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Gone are the huge crowds for President Barack Obama’s inauguration. Left behind is political junk fit for a museum.

Larry Bird and Harry Rubenstein, curators from the National Museum of American History, collected dozens of objects, from hats and homemade signs to buttons and other paraphernalia, to tell the story of the first black president to future generations.

“You really felt that you were part of something that was bigger than yourself,” said Bird. He ventured out Jan 20 and combed through the million-plus crowd to find unique items the museum could use.

People wrapped themselves in Obama blankets. Vendors sold every Obama button imaginable. It’s a moment that curators might need to capture someday in an exhibit, so they’ve been working to collect as many as 100 different Obama items.

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