Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Park West Gallery Launches New Artist Microsite: Fanch Ledan

Park West Gallery continues its 40 year tradition of connecting people with artists and fine art by inviting you to visit our new web site for artist Francois "Fanch" Ledan.

Fanch Ledan, Park West Gallery

The Fanch Ledan website features an updated biography of the artist, an online art gallery and videos of Fanch in the studio, speaking about his inspirations and his artwork.

According to art historian, Eleanor Hight:

"The tremendous appeal of Fanch's art comes from the delicate balance, but underlying tension, between what is real and what is possible. His cheeriness, often exuberance, is balanced by both worldly knowledge and personal introspection.”

Explore the new Fanch website located at

Monday, April 27, 2009

Park West Gallery ART NEWS

Park West Gallery Newsletter

Attention Park West Gallery Newsletter fans - the APRIL issue is here!


This month's features include:

  • Art Auctions at Sea on CNBC,
  • Gallery Director Offers Art Marketing Tips,
  • I See Nude People...,
  • Artists at Sea: Fanch Ledan,
  • The Real Art of Collecting,
  • An Animated Art Auction at Sea,
  • Exclusive New Dali Videos,
  • ...And More!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Experiencing Rockwell

By Park West Gallery Director Morris Shapiro

On March 8, 2009 the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) opened its exhibition, “American Chronicles: the Art of Norman Rockwell.” On the day of the opening Detroit Free Press “art critic” Mark Stryker (the newspaper’s music critic, who evidently was tapped to become the art critic after another round of Detroit business layoffs) penned his review. His opening tag line: “Love the show, hate the art.” You can save time by not reading the article. That tag line perfectly sums up Stryker’s opinion.

Online, a volley of reactionary comments to Stryker’s column lined up in the opinion blogs. They ranged from absolute venom (typical online stuff) to comments from readers who completely ignored Stryker’s opinion just to laud the show and encourage Detroiters to go see it and support the museum and its efforts. Another part of the Free Press’s coverage was a side bar, “Was Norman Rockwell a Great Artist?” The DIA’s curator, a professor (whose mother modeled for Rockwell), and a well known Detroit artist weighed in. The artist, Charles McGee, expressed a prevailing attitude towards Rockwell’s work that dogged him during his life and has continued to this day. “I think Rockwell was a great illustrator. To me there's a big difference between illustration and fine art. It's not that each isn't good in its own right, but one is selling a product as far as I'm concerned and the other is selling itself.”

I went to see the show with my 14 year old daughter, Amanda, who had written a biographical report on Rockwell for her history class a few months back. Her assignment was to write about an American artist, and when she asked me who she should consider (perhaps one of the benefits of having a dad in the biz) I replied immediately that it should be Norman Rockwell and expressed to her my reasons why. Ironically, during her research for the report we as a family flew to Europe to attend a Park West Gallery collector event. One night at dinner we mentioned to a client that Amanda was researching Rockwell, and she proceeded to inform us that she had modeled for him when she was a child; her image appeared on a 1957 “Saturday Evening Post” cover. Big mistake to say that to me because I’m sure I drove this woman “nuts” querying her about every aspect of Rockwell’s working process and his personality. Amanda’s report included an interview with our guest, and she ended up with an “A.” Not surprisingly, Amanda was just as excited to see the show as I was. During the entire time she was working on the paper, her teacher was gently ridiculing Rockwell and needling her about her choice. His point was the same as Stryker’s and McGee’s: Not an artist, just an “illustrator.”

Where does this attitude come from? How can an artist who contributed so much to the culture and artistic identity of America (this is profoundly apparent when stepping into the final room of the exhibition and seeing each of the 323 “Saturday Evening Post” magazine covers he created during seven decades) be so pejoratively viewed by the art “establishment”?

The answer is obvious. There is a disconnect, a separation (more like a chasm) in the art world between the arbiters of what is and isn’t “art” and the American people. This was never more apparent to me than when we left the museum and I saw the lines of enthusiastic people: families with young children, seniors from my parents’ generation, and students. People of all races and ages, all queuing up for tickets and filling the galleries, anxious to experience Rockwell’…actually hungry for it.

Rockwell was keenly aware of his image as a mere “illustrator” and frustrated enough to address it many times in his art. Trained as a “fine artist,” he was well steeped (as all of the great ones were) in the history and narrative of his profession. In one of the photographs included in the exhibition of him working in his studio (on, in my opinion, the most important painting in the show, “The Problem We All Live With,” 1963), I caught a blurry image of Rembrandt’s etching masterpiece, “The Hundred Guilder Print.” It was in the upper left corner hanging on the wall amidst his own studies and drawings. This delighted me (I’m sure most people wouldn’t have noticed it) because I had just been marveling at the use of chiaroscuro in so many of the canvasses of Rockwell.

Rockwell’s “Triple Self Portrait,” one of the most popular and amusing of all his famous images, deals directly with this paradox of the power of his work and his popular image as a “commercial” artist. In it we see pinned to his canvas self-portraits of Durer, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh as well as a Picasso cubist head. It is well known that Rockwell greatly admired the old masters and was enthralled by Picasso and even Pollack. The painting, which reveals his astonishing technique in the masterful articulation of the fabric of his shirt, the mirror into which he peers, and the golden helmet mounted at the top of his easel, defies us as viewers to ignore or diminish his prodigious mastery of oil on canvas while at the same time casts visual puns about who it is he is portraying.

In another captivating work, “Art Critic,” 1955, a young art student examines a painting through a magnifying glass while holding his easel and palette (with real globs of paint affixed). The woman in this portrait (based on a Rubens) looks back at the student with an expression of surprise, as if to say the young man is too close and is staring at her bosom. Behind him is a painting of three 17th Century Dutch gentlemen (again a nod to Rembrandt) who appear to stop their conversation to peer with surprise at the young student’s indiscretion. This is a great and amusing scene until one looks at the technique Rockwell displays. It’s as if he says to us, “Take a look at my ‘chops,’ those of you who question my artistic legitimacy. I can do Dutch and French masters as good as they did and use them in the background of my paintings.”

From my own experience, it has been an honor to work with Curtis Publishing, the owners of the intellectual rights to Rockwell’s “Saturday Evening Post” imagery, and the Norman Rockwell Licensing Company, managed by the artist’s family, in the development of limited edition prints created exclusively for Park West Gallery clients. More recently, these works have been realized as hand-drawn lithographs created at the same studio French artist Marcel Mouly used for the creation of his lithographs. I’ve also had the pleasure of offering original Rockwell drawings and seeing several of them collected. It is truly a thrill for an art dealer to be a part of the joy experienced by someone who has the rare opportunity to acquire something of this kind of rarity and historic importance. Through this process and in viewing so many of his works, I have gained a deeper appreciation for Rockwell’s art.

Norman Rockwell produced over 4000 works of art in his lifetime, a lifetime that he devoted to unfailing artistic discipline and committed to sharing his view of our world with an emphasis on humankind’s higher morals and enduring values. His messages of family, equality, freedom, tolerance, and even human shortcomings touched more Americans than any other artist with our shared heritage. His contributions to the American spirit during World War II are legendary, particularly in the way that he focused not so much on our soldiers fighting abroad but on the heroism and bravery of the everyday people who remained at home.

So once again, we have to ask: How can an artist of such power, possessing spectacular technical genius and an unparalleled ability to communicate and touch so many, be so often dismissed by those who claim to wield the power of judgment as to what is and isn’t “art”?

The answer is too long and complex to be addressed here. I have written about it before and continue to vigorously share my own views on the topic. It has to do with the long (and unfortunate in my opinion) history of art that extends from Duchamp to Warhol and resides today in the likes of Damien Hirst, whose works fetched unprecedented prices last year for “sculptures” of cigarette butts in medicine cabinets, dead flies on canvas, and his “masterpiece,” a dead calf in a glass case. It has to do with the fact that when people crave the experiences that art can provide such as elevation of the human spirit, a demonstration of the results of unflagging dedication to hard work and excellence, and a jumping off point into the contemplations of human thought and spiritual meaning, these works of “art” leave us cold, unfulfilled, perplexed, and often angry when discovering the sums paid for them by museums and collectors. There is no way we can know what the future will hold for this kind of art.

As I travelled the halls of the museum with my young daughter in tow, as we moved past the paintings by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Degas, Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso, and dozens of others who built on the narrative of the art that came before them, I couldn’t help but believe that as long as there are people on this planet these works will be precious. They will forever be emblems of human greatness and our aspiration to reach for higher and deeper understandings of beauty and the miraculous around us. Thinking about Norman Rockwell, I saw him fitting perfectly into that same pantheon of masters in another hundred years.

We continued on to the contemporary wing of the DIA. We turned a corner and on the floor to our left we encountered a “sculpture” by American artist, Yayoi Kusama. The work entitled “Silver Shoes” is a clear acrylic box encasing 23 shoes with cloth protrusions emanating from the openings, everything spray painted silver. It’s a work, I am confident, Mr. Stryker would love. However, there was no line of people outside the museum queuing up to buy tickets to see it. No line of people behind the work patiently waiting to view it. No “audio tour” devices pressed up against people’s ears in contemplation before it. In fact, there was no one looking at it at all. They were all downstairs experiencing Rockwell.

Triple Self Portrait by Norman RockwellArt Critic by Norman Rockwell

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to Park West Gallery Artist Joan Miro!

Prise a l'Hamecon by Joan Miro
Born on April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Spain, Joan Miro is remembered as one of the greatest Surrealist artists that ever lived. In fact Andre Breton, the Surrealist movement’s founder and proponent, came to describe Miro as “the most surreal of us all.” His works are easily recognized because of their bright colors and child-like qualities, and a selection of his artwork is offered by Park West Gallery.

Miro’s fame and recognition became international during the 1930s while he was living in Paris and developing his own unique style of imagery derived from elements of Catalan folk art, the art of children and randomness. In the mid-1940s Miro returned to his homeland of Spain and began to experiment with many forms of media including lithography, etching, ceramics, sculpture and murals. He became one of the most prolific creators of original lithographs and etchings and innovated the techniques of etching through the use of highly textured applications of color, a technique that would later be called carborundum aquatint. Miro visited the United States for the first time in 1947, and his artwork was the subject of many important museum exhibitions including two at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1951 and 1959. Miro settled in Majorca, Spain in 1956, and his studio there was eventually transformed into the Miro Museum. On December 25, 1983 Joan Miro passed away in Majorca, Spain at the age of ninety.

While Miro may be gone, his memory lives on. Today he is viewed by the art world as one of the most important artists of the 20th century.

Homenatge a Joan Prats (M.721) by Joan Miro

Friday, April 17, 2009

Park West Artists At Sea: Simon Bull

By Erin, Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer

Tall, distinguished, quiet and yet, Simon Bull is anything but unassuming. There’s a stillness to him that runs at full speed. There’s a calmness to him that rages. Clearly a powder keg, keen eyes and a sly smile forewarn fireworks sure to burst, but when? Caught up in his pleasant reserve, he presents nothing but a puzzle box fuse – and then he paints. Setting his surroundings ablaze with brushstrokes, Simon Bull is an electric interpreter of an eclectic resolve, and its little wonder that his recent cruise aboard the Celebrity Infinity kicked off with a fire drill.

Autumn by Simon Bull
A professional painter for the past 30 years, Simon Bull is a world respected artist. His accolades are numerous and well-earned. His reputation as a top notch image maker runs through the UK and across the pond, and this summer extended north! There are few better ways to see the Inside Passage than sailing by in a luxury liner. While many eyes affixed to windows and whales, Infinity guests similarly found wide eyed wonders aboard. Sponsored by art world power house, Park West Gallery, Simon Bull’s amazing cruise produced a fleet of new and re-inspired art enthusiasts.

Just as avid about the outdoors as the average Alaskan bound cruiser, Simon Bull explored the first port of call, Sitka, with a camera in hand. While his evening engagement included a painting demonstration during dinner in the dining room, his day and devices were left to the wilds of wilderness. An artist who captures the inherent inspiration of any given subject, be it a vibrant flower or a simple heart, Simon Bull stunned his audience during his first painting demonstration, seeming to capture nothing short of the American spirit.

A United State of Heart by Simon Bull
What did he paint? An icon loses something when reduced to a common name. Simon Bull painted an eagle. The sentence runs cold in common text of black and white; nonetheless Simon Bull painted an eagle that was nothing short of a wonder. Waterfalls of blue and red erupted around the drama of a white headdress of plumes and a steely grey gaze. Seeing the national bird of the United States in a mix of untouched evergreens and purple mountain majesty is a highlight of the Alaskan experience. It encompasses more than a snapshot might convey. A wildlife artist as well, might simply render, but virtuoso, Simon Bull bridged reality to the intangible. He gave form to a feeling; he enabled a flat surface to speak, and that evening seemed oddly quiet as dinner guests strained their eyes to hear.

It didn’t stay quiet. The end of the evening was abuzz with applaud and fawning. The paint still wet, bids already abounded in the ear of the onboard auctioneer who hadn’t even offered the work for sale. Ten thousand was the first offer; the hammer finally fell at twenty-six.

Serenity Series I-XVI by Simon Bull
Simon Bull completed four paintings aboard Infinity. More were offered within the already amazing collection of the onboard Park West art gallery. Not everything went at twenty-six thousand, it didn’t have to; the beauty of the world’s largest art dealer (Park West) is its ability to demystify and secure the art market for everyone. A great success, Simon Bull’s cruise aboard the Infinity was more than a windfall; it was a window of enrichment. Artwork in the making is rarely seen, and the birth of a masterpiece is harder sought. Truly the cruise of a lifetime, guests aboard the Celebrity Infinity sailed through the wonders of the last frontier and similarly experienced the magic potential of man’s inner vision. Turned into a collector or inspired in personal pursuits, those privy to Simon Bull’s cruise returned home in Celebrity style, along with a potential for newfound takes on visual expression.

The inner fire of Simon Bull never set the ship ablaze, but it did bring the house down. Ever humble, Simon Bull took special time to forge relationships extending beyond a photo op or dedication. A church group commissioned a front piece for their following, a businessman commissioned a gift for a prince of a faraway kingdom. A school teaching couple requested the artist’s interpretation of the following but not limited: Swirling, whirling, red, blue, cubes, dancing…and maybe some botanicals. Simon Bull never flinched; he has no reason to second guess or self doubt. Every challenge is another opportunity for great vision and Simon Bull is the man to create just such a view.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Art History Day from Park West Gallery!

Circus with the Yellow Clown by Marc Chagall
Although April 15th is primarily known for being Tax Day, it is important to remember that it is Art History Day as well. Art is all around us and thus time should be spent learning about and appreciating it. Works of art tend to be a reflection of the society in which they were produced, but art can also have a profound effect on society. Some artists have come to be known as masters of the types of art they produced, and their works, no matter how long ago they were created, are still relevant today and continue to speak to those who view them.

The collection of fine art Park West Gallery has amassed over the years is made up works from a wide variety of artists including those considered masters. One of the masters whose work is made available to collectors by Park West is Marc Chagall. Like the French Fauvres who used color without inhibition, Chagall moved toward an expressionist art using “primitive” distortion, simplified line, and large areas of bold unbroken color.

David in Prayer by Rembrandt Another old master whose works can be obtained through Park West Galley is Rembrandt. He was the great master of the Baroque Age, a time known for its dramatic use of light and shadow (chiaroscuro). While he may be known best for his paintings, he revolutionized the medium of etching and remains one of history’s most innovative and influential original printmakers.

Over the past 30,000 years that art has been created, a lot has changed in terms of what is considered art and how it’s produced among other things. Whenever society looks back at the artwork from generations past, much is learned about the history of art and those who created it, but much is also learned about history in general.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Noah's Art: Incandenscent Beauty, Inconceivable Perfection

By Megan, Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer

A chimerical vision, the crystalline waters of Venice are shockingly picturesque to first-time visitors. Pervading this city is such a sense of age and magnificence, that it seemingly becomes a radiant, unearthly place. Like a temporary stage set, there is a cinematic perfection that is incomprehensible. Venice is surreal.

The childlike fascination that one experiences in this Italian port is a sensation not often encountered. Yet, for the guests onboard the Celebrity Summit, a sense of wonderment suffused their entire Mediterranean holiday.

Chateau Ferrand by Noah Just as the bridges join the winding streets of Venice, there was a similar ethereal connection established by the guest artist Noah. The allure and perfection of the European landscape was as well experienced in a different medium, that of his hauntingly photographic painted works. The creation of such realistic and distinctive art moved guests to that same feeling of amazement that all encounter in the aged and dreamy world of Venice.

Noah arrived onboard the Celebrity Summit in Naples, Italy, for a trip filled with firsts. As a featured guest artist onboard the ship, Noah was both new to cruising and to Park West Gallery, who provided the remarkable opportunity to premiere his art on the high seas.

Originally from Orange County, California, Noah has a flourishing art career with clients worldwide, including celebrities such as Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, to the Royal Family of Dubai.

The gift of an airbrush from his father enabled Noah at an early age to manifest his creative energies in a wholly unique style. The level of artistry possible with this instrument, and concurrent with a mind teeming with inspiration, is superb. The eclectic output of Noah, then, is a reflection of his innate talent, expert painting skills, and also of the world around him.

Bernini Sculpture by NoahWhile happily exploring his first cruise ship, Noah also prepared for his debut among the guests. Invited to paint live in the dining room, Noah was excited to present himself and his work on the Celebrity Summit. An ideal introduction, airbrush painting had an entertaining, performative aspect, illuminating the artist’s technical prowess. Noah, therefore, showcased his genius by crafting two disparate images that night.

In an ode to the Renaissance classicism witnessed ashore, Noah created an expertly rendered painting of a Bernini sculpture. Additionally appealing to the nearly 400 kids onboard, he designed a Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Captain Hook painting as well. An officially licensed artist for Disney, Noah’s characters look like they are momentarily captured from a scene in an animated Disney treasure.

Delving into the mindset of this Californian artist, the Celebrity Summit Cruise Director conducted a live interview the following day. It was a successful journey into the past development of Noah’s skills, the present energy exuded in his art, and the possible future paths of creative evolution.

Not often do collectors get a firsthand insight into a particular artist’s work, but this interview truly displayed not only Noah’s enthusiasm but also his deep dedication to his craft. He approaches each canvas with merely the will to paint. This spiritual attitude accounts for the fresh perspective visually entrenched in each piece.

It's Five O'Clock SomewhereHearkening to those Surrealist masters like Salvador Dali, Noah likewise is led to create by a psychic, personal communion with higher powers. Surrendering to the art itself is what propels him to fashion each unworldly work.

Attending only his second Park West fine art auction that afternoon, Noah personally contributed to the thrilling atmosphere generated by the reveal of his art onboard the Celebrity Summit. Works featuring wine bottles to Disney characters to Alberto Fuentes cigars were well received by all, especially when Noah took over the podium to describe the time and energy invested in each singular piece.

The incandescent beauty of Noah’s floral designs did not make their appearance, however, until Noah painted live as part of the Mediterranean Flava deck party after the sailaway from Greece. Guests were transported temporarily to a garden lush with dew, as they saw him paint a bloom sparkling with water droplets. The level of realism shocked passersby, and many stood in awe as he airbrushed the rosy petals. His live work was a perfect addition to the best of European culture featured that night.

Marilyn Monroe by Noah Even a movie star emerged the next day to join the collection. The smoldering romanticism of Marilyn Monroe was Noah’s next exquisite creation, with black-and-white Hollywood glamour seducing the contemporary viewer.

In his many canvases, from Marilyn to wine bottles, Noah reminds us of the sophistication inherent in the forgotten era of old movies. The works are like stills from classic films, their level of realism heightened by the minute detail and airbrush silkiness. It was because of these qualities, that Noah found many interested parties for unique commissions.

The artwork featured on the Celebrity Summit during Noah’s stay was a great mélange of both his and the guests’ many interests. The kids onboard were fascinated by the Disney pieces, and each one visiting the Gallery at the end of the cruise received a personalized sketch by Noah himself.

Kauai Sunrise Those fond of European culture discovered great traditions of art and cuisine embodied in paintings of wine and sculpture. Nature made its way onto the Summit’s sailing city in Noah’s floral designs, luminous with jewel-like dew.

Despite remaining back in California, Noah’s wife and family were made a part of the trip in such mystical figurative pieces as Heavensent, homage to that powerful connection between man and wife.

Always interested in meeting new people and expressing interest in their lives, Noah was constantly intrigued by others onboard. Even the Captain was captivated by this guest artist, and made sure to welcome him during many meals and chats.

Upon reaching the end of the voyage and arriving in Venice, Noah was still riding the wave of wonderment at the immense reception of his art and his person onboard the Celebrity Summit. Stepping into that scenic Venetian paradise, Noah was unaware that his amazement had been contagious that cruise. All guests onboard were noticeably awed by his talent and art.

As Noah commented on the unreal stage that Venice seemed to occupy, he concomitantly provided a similar radiant illusion in his own creations. The age and majesty of Venice emanates a certain sense of inconceivable perfection. The art of Noah does the same.

© Collectors Editions. All Rights Reserved. © Disney

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passover: A Time to Reflect

Yaacov Agam Park West Gallery

With Passover starting tonight at sundown, it is a natural time to reflect on how Jewish artists are making an impact on the art world, and Park West Gallery is proud to offer works from two of the most well know Jewish artists of our time: Yaacov Agam and Itzchak Tarkay.

Agam, best known for his contributions to optical and kinetic art, created his own type of print called an Agamograph. Agamographs rely on lenticular printing which allows for significantly different images to be seen depending on the angle from which the works are viewed. Recently Agam finished a sculpture entitled, “Peaceful Communication with the World” which is an exploration of how art exists and can interact with time. This sculpture graces the entrance of a new stadium built in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for the 2009 World Games. Also, Agam is the only Israeli artist included in H. H. Arnason's "History of Modern Art" and in the "Dictionary of Art and Artists," edited by Sir David Piper. While his artwork deals with a variety of themes, Agam continues to create works that reflect his religious upbringing and Jewish faith.

Tarkay has consistently been recognized as a leader of the new generation of figurative artists with his unique depiction of the female form becoming iconic. After various exhibitions of his work in Israel and around the world, Tarkay was featured at the International Art Expo in New York for works in several forms of media such as oil, acrylic, and watercolor. Additionally, numerous hardcover books containing images of Tarkay’s works and information about the artist himself have been published over the years.

Agam, Tarkay, and all of the Park West Gallery artists strive to create breathtaking works of art, and these works often brighten the lives of those who see them. Passover, like so many important holidays, gives people a chance to reflect and spend time appreciating the beautiful things that come into their lives, and for some this may just include fine artwork.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Park West Gallery Director Offers Art Marketing Tips to Aspiring Artists

"Although the world is in a challenging time, the future of the young artist is hopeful," Morris Shapiro - Park West's Gallery Director of 25 years - told students during his lecture at the prestigious College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan on April 3, 2009.

Morris ShapiroPhoto courtesy of Barbara Jacobs

Shapiro shared with students his advice about commissions and contracts, marketing and promotion, and what gallery directors look for in artists and their work.

5 Key Objectives for Aspiring Artists to Remember:

  • The distinction that you are either a ‘commercial’ artist or a ‘fine artist’ is a thing of the past. Today, fine artists need to know commerce; commercial artists need to keep their artistic ‘flame’ alive to keep their work up to par. You can achieve any success for which you strive with no limiting ‘labels.’

  • The art world today is hungry again for aesthetic beauty and for the artist to point the way to the beauty, mystery, and miraculous in life. The world is tired of dead animals in glass boxes, ashtrays full of cigarette butts, and starving dogs tied up to leashes that are all called 'art.'

  • Art was the ‘spearhead’ of culture and throughout history a narrative was created, with one generation of artists building upon the last. Now is the time for young artists to pick up the thread of aesthetic beauty that was cast aside by the 'conceptualists,’ and re-engage the narrative.

  • Work is the key - your art is not ‘precious.’ It’s all about the hard work, determination and perseverance. There are no shortcuts to excellence. Look at Picasso, arguably the greatest ever - the amount of work he created is nearly incomprehensible. The Zervos catalogs of his paintings and drawings consists of 34 volumes.

  • Know art history. All of the great ones were heavily steeped in the important art that came before them. They sublimated it and then it came through them in their own new incarnation. It’s now the young artists' responsibility to reach back into time, to bring the history of art into this time, and move it forward.

Read the biography of Morris Shapiro

Friday, April 3, 2009

An "Animated" Park West Art Auction at Sea with Disney Artist, David Willardson

In the Pink by WillardsonBy Erin, Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer

Considered one of the finest galleries afloat, the Celebrity Infinity always hosts an amazing art collection. Still what a surprise when, in anticipation of a visit from world renowned Disney artist, David Willardson, the gallery came alive as never before - one might say it was down-right animated.

After 17 years of drawing for Disney, Willardson is now affiliated with the world’s largest art dealer, Park West Gallery, and remains an aficionado in depicting classic characters: Mickey, Minnie…as well as feature friends: Bambi, Snow White, Lady, and of course, her Tramp alike.

While many Infinity cruisers are familiar with fun and fast paced Park West auctions, few could have imagined a more friendly surprise than what seemed like the whole of Disney setting out to greet them on the first night of their Alaska bound cruise. One even quipped in passing, “I did get on the Celebrity ship…right?”

Assuring onlookers that this was in fact, the happiest gallery on the high seas, David Willardson, accompanied by his Grammy-nominated girlfriend, Michelle Shocked, were among the first in an anticipated string of artist sailings, each of which ensured the cruise crowd an art experience to write home about, or even hang on the wall.

How did it all begin? Willardson left no rock unturned in his live and packed interview on the first sea day of the voyage. Recorded and widely broadcast aboard ship, the interview offered astonishing insight into the early beginnings, as well as the current buzz, of Willardson’s brilliant career.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Fresh out of art school, David Willardson manifested his own destiny in designing the first Indiana Jones Logo for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Further success followed with his design iconology for American Graffiti. One of the first artists actively airbrushing as a means to bring his talents to life, Williardson cast his careful eye over friends and role models he had met as a child, the Disney family.

Rendering characters in an entirely new way, David Willardson seems to have opened an adult channel leading back to our childhood wonders. The stiffest of guests couldn’t help but smile as they strolled past vibrant walls. International guests seemed enchanted as well - one man from Bombay stopped to admit, “I love the duck (referring to Donald)…and the bear (referring to Pooh)."

Even the Infinity’s esteemed captain took an interest in the visit, inviting Willardson to the bridge. In the midst of viewing Hubbard Glacier and after detailing a short list of other famous names his ship has ferried throughout a long career, he exclaimed “…And now I’ve met the man who draws Mickey Mouse!”

Obviously a crowd pleaser, this special cruise marked a double highlight for Willardson himself - celebrating his first Alaska venture and his 66th birthday. Though the birthday event wasn’t made common knowledge throughout the ship, the festivities took place in the art gallery and were open to the public. Passers-by found themselves invited to share in the swing-time exhibition of Willardson cutting a rug with his sweetheart, to rousing Route 66 and other birthday tunes provided by the onboard acapella singers. A birthday cake, compliments of the ship and complete with a strange but appreciated pink Donald Duck, also made the rounds of any and all interested parties.

Like the dizzying, but delightful effect of spinning teacups, the party continued for the duration of the cruise.

XOXO by David WillardsonA front row guest at auctions, David Willardson took the stage whenever one of his artworks appeared for purchase to shed light on insider origins, meanings and techniques. In particular, families embraced this enriching array of paintings and original creations in serigraphy, lithography and other media. Upon purchase, the most common dedication request dictated that the new family heirloom be earmarked “For Posterity.”

An international art star, David Willardson’s patience never wavered. The artist even went so far as to pop works out of frames and add additional hand-painted embellishments to graphic works. He invited handshakes and long conversations. He offered advice to burgeoning artists and extended a drawing class to all the children aboard the ship.

Not to be outdone, heartfelt applause also surrounded the steps of Willardson’s right hand gal, musician Michelle Shocked. Together for 6 years and very obviously in love, David and Michelle are a tag team of art and entertainment. Shocked was awarded a Grammy for her amazing song, aptly named: Anchorage. Already impressed by their luck in sailing with the likes of Willardson, Infinity cruisers must have made good on the power of wishing stars, as Ms. Shocked graciously agreed to a double-feature, matinee performance – she would sing and he would paint. And it proved to be the concert event of all cruises anywhere.

Fabulous, fascinating, multifaceted, the Celebrity cruise hosting David Willardson provided a unique experience across the board. Brought together by a common love of art or animation or even just idle curiosity alone, guests found enrichment, entertainment and opportunity in abundance. Converted to a collector or not, those who ventured to the Willardson events appreciated their encounter. Willardson too, it seemed, enjoyed his stay.

A future cruise may be in the works, but more important, Park West shows no signs of flagging in its amazing purpose to clear the air of the art market, expose common stogy myths and in general demystify for the common man the joyful process of collecting fine art. In following this mantra for 40 years, it’s little wonder that the gallery stands today at the head table of this art world banquet, and how lucky for clients or cruising vacationers who reap the benefits of the resulting (cruise favorite) feast.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Real Art of Collecting

Study for a Ring by ErteBy Johnathon,
Cruise Ship Art Auctioneer

A friend of mine who is a Park West Collector phoned me one afternoon and asked me to help her with a new adventure on which she was about to embark.

This client, nicknamed Molly, said that she wanted to start collecting diamonds and she wanted me to help her find someone to be her diamond dealer in the way that Park West is her art dealer. My friend Kim is a diamond expert and I thought she would be a good resource for Molly to use. I was right. We decided the best way to proceed was for Molly and Kim to meet and discuss diamonds at length. I wanted to make sure that Molly was well taken care of, so I went along for the ride.

The ride, as it turned out, ended up being aboard a cruise ship.

We shopped in every port, and spent evenings in the wine bar chatting about all the information required to make a "good" diamond collecting decision.

In the final port of call, I asked Molly if she was planning to collect any diamonds this time, or if this was just a fact finding trip. She said she was looking for something she hadn't found yet. Molly tried on dozens of rings that day, while Kim told her about cut, clarity, karat weight, and all of the other important items to consider when shopping for diamonds. The "maybe" group shrunk slowly to about 10 rings. Molly tried them on in every way imaginable; over red material, blue material, glass surfaces, in the sun light, florescent light, and incandescent light. Finally, she asked Kim to give her some time alone with the pieces, so she could decide what she "had to have."

In the end, she picked one ring. Just one. She handed it to the clerk, and said, "I'll take this one." It was at this point that I thought Kim was going to faint. She said, "Molly, you brought me all the way to the Caribbean, we have shopped for six days straight, and in the end you aren't taking my recommendation at all. This diamond doesn't possess all the qualities I recommended nor the score on the scale I suggested. Is this the only ring that SPOKE to you all cruise long?"

Molly responded with uncommon wisdom.

"All of the rings I tried on today SPOKE to me, the last few at the end were screaming at me, but the one I am taking home today, even though it isn't the highest on any of your scales, is the only one that SINGS to me."

Molly could have afforded any number of the diamonds in that store, but in the end she collected what she loved, with complete disregard for anyone else's opinion. It strikes me that as an art dealer that lesson is the best recommendation I can give. People have many reasons for collecting art, but the best one is always that you LOVE it, that it SPEAKS to you, that it SINGS to you! If you collect art that sings to you, you will never regret it. You will pass it each day as it adorns the walls of your home and remember fondly the moment you decided that you "had to have it."

People always ask me how it is possible that a gallery that started out in the strip mall in a Detroit suburb became the World's Largest Art Dealer?

Park West has built it's client base to 1.2 million satisfied customers by selling people the art that SINGS to them.

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