Monday, February 16, 2009


I have three paintings that might -- or then, again, might not -- be valuable. I have no idea what I should do with them. It worries me at night, during those godawful 3 a.m. hours when I don't sleep. I think about these paintings that no one looks at and feel like I should find someone to love them. If they are valuable it would be lovely to garner some reward for having kept them from the Goodwill, though. And if they're just "starving artist" paintings worth $19.99 each, well, then, someone has empty space in their den right now and needs to be cheered by the artistic endevors of these gents who put their souls into their work.

One, a landscape of Pike's Peak, was painted by a distant relative, Frank M. Benedict. The painting, in wonderful shades of blues and grays, was given to my parents as a wedding gift. My mother did not appreciate the painting, though both Dad and I liked it a lot. Of course, we liked Pike's Peak a lot and Mother -- well, I'm not so sure. However, she always talked about Benedict as being a dilettante painter with little to no skill and a man who never made enough money to count in this life. I think Daddy and I liked the painting because it looked like Pike's Peak. Mother never saw beyond the fact that Benedict was a failure in her estimation. I should have used the flash in taking this picture -- but then you could have clearly seen that a plumbing problem made Hubby remove the ceiling (2006) which we never bothered to put back up. The Benedict painting is surrounded by a print of New Orleans, a strange metal engraving of London, and a Caribbean mask -- we're nothing if not eclectic.

The second painting is very 1950's in aspect, and again was passed on to use by my mother -- in point of fact it WAS painted in 1948. It is by a another landscape artist who was also a teacher at the University of Wyoming. My great aunt bought the picture, I think, because she thought that it would one day be valuable, she liked the pink color because she had a an all pink apartment, and she knew the guy (Don Wiest) who painted it, as they taught at the University together. The picture, lots of cream swirls on a blue/green and pink landscape is supposed to be (I think I was told) Vedauvoo National Park in Wyoming -- which I only visited once when I was nine and I remember it had interesting rock formations. My aunt took us to picnic there and I have an old black and white Brownie Kodac pictures of a chubby me on the rocks. Anyway, the painting is quite modern in aspect -- the rocks look like swirls of whipped cream. I brought this picture upstairs and photographed it in the light -- made for a heck of a clearer view.

Here's the real Vedauvoo rocks: they do somewhat resemble this painting, I guess.

The final painting is a wall sized mural and was painted by an African American, Hank Smith, to chronical a rich woman's party. It's supposed to be a painting "of the guests interacting" -- but mostly it's just globs of paint that look like they were thrown at the canvas. We're talking 1970 psychedelic art here. Anyway, Hubby was doing odd jobs for the woman who commissioned the piece and when he admired it, she told him to "take it away, please." And so he did. It hung in his house around the corner for several years but when his mother moved in, she thought the picture had an evil feel to it and asked that he remove it from her living room. Hence, this mural joined the other two in the basement. Again, as you can see, I should have used the flash in the basement.

I suppose it's criminal, really, t0 have all three hanging in the dark in a room no one visits except to pass through to the washing machine. Nobody ever looks at them other than the spiders. They should be sold to someone who would like them. Other than the one of Pike's Peak, I have no heart-felt interest in any of them. And according to the little on-line information that I could gather about any of the artists, only Frank M. Benedict every had much of a reputation (at least his reputation survived my mother's contempt). His painting is in the worst condition -- Mother smoked all the years we owned it and it is quite old (Frank lived from 1840 to 1930 -- probably painted it about the turn of the 20th century which makes it about 109 years old now). Having spent the last 20 years in my basement (since Mother shipped it to me) and not been appreciated by anyone, a good cleaning is clearly needed for it to show well. The Vedauvoo painting would look great in someon'es 1950's retro apartment but doesn't do well with my Victorian era furniture. It just took me 20 minutes to clean off the spider webs clinging to it's canvas. And the wall mural? My lord, it's big! I don't remember how we got it into the basement, but we'd need movers to get it out.

This is our upstairs living room. So just what the heck do I do with these three interesting paintings? Where's the Antique's Road Show when you need 'em?

1 comment:

Chris said...

I was looking for information on Donald Wiest and found this posting. "Mr. Wiest," as I knew him, was my art teacher at University School and University High School in Laramie, WY. My sister now has a painting of his that belonged to my parents. It's much more realistic than most of Wiest's work -- an autumn aspen grove. Wiest was well-known in Wyoming as an artist. I don't believe that he is still living, though his second wife, Betsy Wiest, who taught in the Univ. of Wyoming nursing college, might be contacted through that college. One thing you might do is contact the Univ. of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie. I would expect that they have some of Wiest's works in the museum collection and would be able to help you with figuring out the value. Don't give it to Goodwill until you check with someone at the U of Wyo or in the Laramie area -- the painting would be worth more in Wyoming, I imagine.

Christine Davis Inkster
formerly of Laramie, now living in St. Cloud, MN