Auction Preview | Scottsdale Art Auction

Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale Art Auction Exhibition Gallery, April 6-7

Clark Hulings, Kaleidoscope, oil, 29 x 46. Estimate: $175,000-$250,000.

Clark Hulings, Kaleidoscope, oil, 29 x 46. Estimate: $175,000-$250,000.

This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Paintings and sculptures by some of the biggest names in western fine art hit the auction block on Saturday, April 7, at the annual Scottsdale Art Auction, where western, wildlife, and sporting works by both historic and leading contemporary artists are up for bid. The day kicks off with a
no-reserve sale at 9:30 a.m. in the auction’s 500-seat sales room in Old Town Scottsdale, followed by a second session at noon. All auction works are on view beginning two weeks prior to the event, and an all-day preview takes place on Friday, April 6.

Among the sale’s robust collection this year—394 lots in total—eager collectors must vie for standout works by Maynard Dixon, Gerard Curtis Delano, Leon Gaspard, Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington, Joseph H. Sharp, and numerous other famed American masters. One of the top lots in the sale is an oil painting by Charles M. Russell titled INDIAN ON HORSEBACK, which is expected to garner $300,000 to $500,000. “It’s a beautiful little painting that appears on the cover of our Session II catalog,” says Brad Richardson, of Legacy Galleries in Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY. “Usually we have 350 lots in the sale, so we’re a little higher this year,” adds the gallery owner, who presents the auction each spring with partners Mike Frost, of J.N. Bartfield Galleries, and Jack A. Morris Jr. “We’ve got a lot of works for a variety of collectors—it’s a very diverse auction with varied price points.”

The event takes a new approach this year with a designated no-reserve sale during the first session. That means guaranteed sales for each of the 128 lots in the session, which features works by top-billed artists like Clyde Aspevig, George Carlson, Scott Christensen, Frank McCarthy, Gordon Snidow, and Ray Swanson, to name a few. Notable offerings in the second session include multiple works by Cowboy Artists of America member Kenneth Riley (1919-2015), whose painting HOMAGE TO CATLIN set a record in January at Scottsdale Art Auction’s Leanin’ Tree sale, where it fetched $210,000, outperforming its high estimate of $125,000. Bidders must also contend for significant works by contemporary heavy hitters like Ken Carlson, John Coleman, Glenn Dean, Martin Grelle, Z.S. Liang, and Kyle Polzin, all of whom created new works for the sale. A hearty collection of sporting and wildlife works by such artists as Robert Bateman, Bob Kuhn, and Carl Rungius help round out the auction’s offerings. 

One special highlight of the sale, notes Richardson, is a group of works by Texas artist G. Harvey, who passed away in November. “This is the first significant auction of Harvey’s works since his passing, and we have a lot of important pieces by him from different consigners,” he says. Among the eight works available to bidders is a major oil painting by Harvey titled ROCKY MOUNTAIN COWBOYS [see page 24], which is estimated to sell for between $150,000 and $250,000. Described as a study in the light of the high West, the painting portrays two cowhands and their pack train navigating through a snow-blanketed forest.

The Scottsdale Art Auction currently holds the sales record for works by Harvey, not to mention Grelle and Riley, notes Richardson. In fact, now in its 14th year, the auction boasts more than 200 art-auction sales records to date. Last year alone, it set 19 new records. “When we started the auction, we thought if we could reach $4 to $5 million in sales, we would consider it a huge success,” says Richardson, who teamed up with Frost and Morris in 2005 to launch the first sale. The inaugural event generated nearly $6.9 million, and since then, it has only continued to exceed the trio’s expectations. “I didn’t see it doing what it’s done,” says Richardson. “It has turned into a real business, it’s established, and we feel very fortunate.” 

Of course, it’s the collectors who drive the competitive bidding atmosphere each year—and ultimately the success of the sale—and that’s what makes the event such a thrill, notes Richardson. “Auctions are exciting. The idea that a collector thinks they might have to pay $50,000 for a painting, but walks away having paid only $40,000, or even if they walk away paying more for a work they love, that excites them. They control the auction.” —Kim Agricola

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This story was featured in the April 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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