Auction Preview | Fredericksburg Art Auction

Fredericksburg, TX
St. Mary’s Event Center, April 30-May 2

Mian Situ, Pacific Mail Steamer, Siberia, 1905 Hong Kong-San Francisco, oil, 40 x 56. Estimate: $80,000-$120,000.

Mian Situ, Pacific Mail Steamer, Siberia, 1905 Hong Kong-San Francisco, oil, 40 x 56. Estimate: $80,000-$120,000.

This story was featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

At the beginning of the year, the founders of the Fredericksburg Art 
Auction—which debuts this month in the Texas Hill Country—had high yet realistic hopes. At most, they expected 250 lots for this year’s auction, a number that would enable them to provide artists, sellers, and buyers alike with the highly personal attention they hoped to make a hallmark of their event.

Four months on, widespread response has led to expectations being impressively exceeded. “We now have 272 lots total,” marvels Greg Fulton, owner of Astoria Fine Art in Jackson, WY, who has partnered with colleagues and friends David and Meredith Plesko, owners of InSight Gallery in Fredericksburg. “We got a lot more and better consignments, including more rare and historically relevant pieces, than we ever thought possible,” he says.

In fact, they’ve seen so much top-quality art consigned that they’ve extended viewing times. In addition to the Auction Preview Gala at St. Mary’s Event Center, which had always been planned for preregistered bidders from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 1, the works are now open to public viewing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that same day, as well as from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.

A brief survey of auction highlights makes it easy to understand the need for extra hours. Consider, for example, that the Vincent and Carol W. Dean Family Charitable Foundation has made available for sale 10 works by Frank McCarthy [1924-2002], a renowned painter of the American West and legendary illustrator of Hollywood movie posters. “These will remain a big attraction for many of those attending,” says David Plesko, noting that some of McCarthy’s works are expected to sell for as high as $70,000.

Hermann Herzog, A Mountain Torrent, oil, 44 x 60. Estimate: $80,000-$120,000.

Hermann Herzog, A Mountain Torrent, oil, 44 x 60. Estimate: $80,000-$120,000.

The number and breadth of works has led the Pleskos and Fulton to conceive of the offerings almost as shows within shows. In addition to a concentration on historical and contemporary western works, there will be significant selections of Native American, wildlife, landscape, figurative, and still-life art. Just a few of the many highlights include number 1 of the 26 castings of Bob Kuhn’s 1991 wildlife bronze RIVER CROSSING, accompanied by four original study sketches (expected selling price: $20,000-$30,000); THE SCOUT, a superb Charles M. Russell watercolor from around 1894 ($200,000-$300,000); AUF BLUMIGER STEPPE, an oil by Wilhelm Kuhnert, widely considered among the greatest African wildlife painters ($250,000-$350,000); and A MOUNTAIN TORRENT by acclaimed German romantic Hermann Herzog ($80,000-$120,000).

A particular point of pride for the organizers is the selection of 21 works created for the auction by some two dozen of today’s top artists, including Z.S. Liang, Nancy Bush, William Acheff, John Banovich, and Logan Maxwell Hagege. They’re especially excited over Mian Situ’s new figurative oil PACIFIC MAIL STEAMER ($80,000-$120,000), which Fulton describes as “a masterpiece of storytelling on the great influx of immigrant workers to the U.S.”

Fredericksburg itself expects a great influx of visitors for the event, which culminates with the live auction on Saturday, May 2, beginning at 1 p.m. “Everyone in and around Fredericksburg,” Fulton concludes, “is planning exciting things to welcome our guests.” —Norman Kolpas

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