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James Martin paintings

James Martin paintings surface in Benefit Shop auction Oct. 10

James Martin paintings
James Martin’s painting, ‘Edgar Allan Poe Raven with Party Hat, Scotch Whiskey,’ features a large bird wearing a party hat and shoes, 16in x 14in. Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. image

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y – Sometimes described as a storyteller or jazz improvisationalist, James Martin (born 1928), has been creating art for decades that is an integral part of the Pacific Northwest scene. Reminiscent of the work of Red Grooms with a similar humorous bent, Martin’s colorful constructions often depict characters from the underbelly of a city. The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. will offer 17 gouaches by Martin collected over several decades with works covering the major periods in the artist’s career, circa 1950s-70s, at its monthly Red Carpet auction on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 10 a.m. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

All lots open with a $1 bid and there are no reserves.

Early in Martin’s career in the late 1950s-early ’60s, his work caught the attention of collectors and he participated in museum exhibitions, including at the Seattle Art Museum. In his 90th year, a striking collection of his paintings, long off the market, will likely stir up much interest.

James Martin paintings
This untitled James Martin painting seems to depict Vincent van Gogh, 13½ x 11¾in. Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. image

The collection comes from the estate of the late Arthur and Teddy Edelman, formerly of Ridgefield, Connecticut. Arthur, who died in January and was predeceased by his wife two years earlier, co-founded Edelman Leather (which the Edelmans sold to Knoll in 2008) and had a passion for midcentury artworks and furniture, often befriending artists like Andy Warhol and James Martin. Arthur was an innovative designer in the fashion and home furnishings industry. In Benefit Shop’s August auction, a collection of midcentury modern furniture and glass, with Edelman provenance, brought robust prices and sparked interest worldwide.

The latest offering from the Edelman estate is likely to create just as much, if not more, interest. “These artworks are quirky, whimsical, well-executed and have been out of public view and the marketplace for decades, thanks to the trained eye of the Edelmans, who appreciated these gems,” said Pam Stone, owner and founder of the Benefit Shop Foundation.

In works like Dancing Monk, Rembrandt Driving Jim’s Truck, Trying on Gran’s Shoes, Edgar Allen Poe and the Raven with Party Hat, and Potato on the Road (below), Martin demonstrates a gift for the narrative with a sly nod to pop culture and as always, pairing unlikely objects as motifs in his work. His imagination runs freely in his paintings. Also on offer are his portraits of George Washington, Mona Lisa and Vincent van Gogh.

James Martin paintings
James Martin, ‘Potato on the Road,’ 14½ x 23½inches. Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. image

In life and in his art, Martin has a sense of humor. His work created from his studio in Edmonds, Washington, is sometimes signed DDR (for Donald Duck Ranch, the name for his house/studio, which he built by himself).

Much more than just art will cross the block, from jewelry such as pair of William Spratling earrings, circa 1930-40s, in sterling silver to fashion, including a Georgeou Furs coat and designer handbags. Glass ranges from a pair of signed Lalique crystal bird trinket dishes to a pair of 9-inch-tall Moser Bohemian glass gilt bud vases in a pleasing green hue while the Asian category features a pair of carved marble foo dogs on stands, 10 inches tall (below).

James Martin paintings
A pair of carved marble foo dogs on stands, 10 inches tall, will cross the block. Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.

“We have a great grouping of estate contents across the board from horse country to Manhattan chic with more art, more jewelry, more ceramics, more midcentury modern and more fashion,” Stone said.

James Martin paintings
The furniture category includes this set of six Sherrill dining chairs upholstered in a floral fabric. Benefit Shop Foundation Inc. image

Rounding out the sale are a Japanese porcelain tea set, early 1900s and an AP B. Karfiol Maternity framed lithograph, circa 1930s-40s, of a mother holding a child.

For more information contact the Benefit Shop Foundation at 914-864-0707.

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