Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

de Servin, de Groot and Dunn art at bargain prices June 8, 2012

I’M NO ART EXPERT. I buy art simply because I like it, not because of its value.

Yet, I’ve managed through the years to purchase several pieces of art, which unbeknown to me, were created by notable artists and therefore possess more than your average value.

I didn’t find these in some upscale, trendy metro art gallery. Rather, I’ve discovered my art treasures at rummage sales and at recycled art sales right here in Faribault.

Yes, I shop on the cheap because, frankly, as much as I wish I could, I cannot afford an original work of art sold at retail price. That is the truth and I apologize to all the starving artists out there who are trying to make a living via their art. Remember, I am a writer. I understand.

That said, let me show you the trio of recycled art pieces which I consider my most valuable art discoveries, although I certainly did not realize this at the time of purchase.

My bargain Jose Maria de Servin painting.

I was shopping at the Paradise Center for the Arts annual Recycled Art Sale several years ago when I came across this interesting painting of a young girl on burlap. The bold colors, the subject and the uniqueness of the art—unlike any I’d ever seen—drew me to her. For $7, this art piece was mine.

Later my second daughter, who at the time was studying Spanish in college, researched the artist, Jose de Maria Servin, and shared that he’s a rather well-known Mexican artist. Seems his original oils fetch anywhere from several hundred to well over $1,000.

To make this even more interesting, I bought Servin’s oil painting on the third day of the recycled art sale and the husband didn’t much like it. He likes it now, or at least its value.

Theodore de Groot LathArt by Austin Productions, patent number 4,061,514

The second notable piece of art also came from that recycled art sale at the Paradise. It’s LathArt, a type of folk art by the Dutch artist Theodore de Groot. LathArt, according to information I found online, was produced by Austin Productions in the 1970s using a patent to die cut the pieces.

Again, I bought the de Groot LathArt owl for $10 because I liked the rustic design and the uniqueness of the art, not because I knew anything about the art or artist.

My print of Harvey Dunn’s “The Prairie is my Garden.”

Ditto for a print of South Dakota artist Harvey Dunn’s painting, “The Prairie is my Garden.” When I spotted the framed print at a yard sale, it reminded me of my native southwestern Minnesota prairie and I just had to have it along with a dozen wine glasses and a “Felix the Cat” video, all for $20.

Months later I grew curious about the artist and learned Dunn was a well-established illustrator for magazines like The Saturday Evening Post among other accomplishments.

So there you go. I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire art of value without even knowing its value. I bought the art solely because I liked it. And isn’t that the best reason for purchasing a work of art?

A sidewalk sign outside the Paradise Center for the Arts advertising the fifth annual Recycled Art Sale.

FYI: The annual Recycled Art Sale at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, Faribault, began at noon Thursday and continues from noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Proceeds benefit the Paradise and the Faribault Mural Society.

Old film reels from the former Paradise Theatre are among items being sold at this years Recycled Art Sale. The smaller reels hold movie trailers such as “Rambo” and “Brewster.” Gallery walls and tables are covered in art donated for the fundraiser.

The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad,” opens Friday evening at the Paradise.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling