Bill Traylor folk art brings $42,550 at May 5 Slotin sale A painting on original found cardboard of a blue cat by the Alabama freed slave folk artist Bill Traylor (1856-1947) sold for $42,550 at a folk art sale held May 5 by Slotin Auction in Buford, Georgia
masterpieces, which comprised the bulk of the sale, a signed and dated oil-on-canvas by Mattie Lou O'Kelley (a Slotin Auction favorite) went to an in-house buyer for $27,600. The framed work, titled “Hog Killing,” was completed around January 1983 and was in mint condition. Also, a housepaint on rusted tin work by Sam Doyle, titled “Stepping Out,” fetched $11,500.
A record price was made for a work by Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980), when “Jesus is My Airplane” sold to a New York phone bidder for $20,700 (high estimate: $8,000). The ink and paint on cardboard painting displayed rich, vivid colors. It had been kept in a drawer for three decades, nearly forgotten. Another Morgan work, “Self-Portrait With Sabbath Day Poem,” achieved $13,800.
Not all the top lots were paintings. A carved and painted wood piece titled “Roadrunner and Rattlesnake” (circa 1984), by Felipe Archuletta, impressive at 34” long and 21” tall, garnered $11,212. Another carved and painted work by Archuletta, titled “Mother Pig and Two Piglets,” hammered for $8,050. “Those were crazy, unbelievably strong prices for works by the artist,” Ms. Slotin remarked.
An intriguing bottlecap construction on wood figure by Clarence Woolsey, titled “Blue Face Bunny,” wowed the crowd before gaveling for $9,775 (“also an incredibly strong price,” Ms. Slotin said). Another crowd pleaser was the completely painted cabinet door by Ronald and Jessie Cooper, titled “Cabinet of Good and Evil.” Painted on three sides and the interior, it rose to $7,187.
Returning to paintings, a thick oil-on-board work with heavy brush strokes by the artist Earl Cunningham, titled “Night Harbor,” went to a New York phone bidder for $9,775; a WPA-era paint-on-board mural study by Hollis Holbrook (1909-1984), done in the 1930s and spanning three panels, made $9,200; and Thornton Dial's mixed media and paint work, “Lady and Tigers,” went for $8,625.
An acrylic work with pencil outline on cardboard, measuring 11” x 14” and attributed to Clementine Hunter (circa 1940s), titled “Couple With Chaperone,” went to a Louisiana phone bidder for $8,050; and a mixed media painting, majestic at 77.5” tall x 36” wide, by Purvis Young and titled “Tall Painted Construction,” was a prize for the absentee bidder who claimed it for $8,050.
A nicely framed oil and watercolor on paper by Nick Quijano, titled “Botanico Sagra” (circa 1960s), went to a Florida phone bidder for $7,475; an Atlanta collector, also bidding by phone, claimed a mixed media on paper work by Nellie Mae Rowe, titled “Black Cat” (circa 1978), for $5,750; and Antoinette Schwab's oil-on-canvas work “Return of the Three Back Horses” made $4,025.
Rounding out the top lots, a 24” x 24” painting by J.B. Lemming, depicting an American flag on one side and a target on the other (signed and dated, 1988), realized $3,680; Mose Tolliver's enamel-on-plywood rendering of Martin Luther King (circa 1983), hammered for a very strong $3,565; and Jimmy Lee Sudduth's thick mud and paint on paneling, “Toto and the Snake,” garnered $3,450.