Scores and Screaming Deals – Tips For Collectors

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All of us who really appreciate the early California desert painters sooner or later come to the realization our taste level has exceeded our pocket book. Here are some tips to keep you in the game without a lot of money.

Ralph Miller painting scored by Allan Seymour

Read all you can about the early California desert painters in art magazines, the Internet, and library books. Become familiar with the individual artists’ styles. Visit art galleries and antique stores. Look online at auctions in San Francisco and the east coast. Attend local art auctions like the John Moran auction in Pasadena. Sometimes, prices depend on who is in the auction room and their particular interests at the time a quality desert painting comes up to bid.

This is what I call, “the moment of truth”. If you have done your homework, bid! There is no worse feeling than watching someone else gets a screaming deal on a painting that you thought you could never afford.

To learn more, become a member of the Palm Springs Art Museum. Here is a great secret. Contribute to the PS Museum purchase fund. Most of us will never be able to own for instance, a Maynard Dixon, but the PS Museum does.

Also, remember, most great deals on art are made when the piece is discovered “out of context”. One of my best desert art scores was in a small gallery in the cowboy town of Lompoc.

I also picked a small desert scene by Ralph Davison Miller (1858-1945) out of the Faded Glory Thrift Store in Laguna Beach, CA around 1988 for $ 35.00

A major painter, Miller exhibited in only the best galleries. Some of his very large paintings hang in the USC Library.

I had no idea who Miller was at the time, but actually bought the painting for the original California gold pie crust frame. The painting was dark yellow from old varnish and decades of cigarette smoke. When the painting was professionally cleaned and varnished the little gem returned to its former lustre.

You never know where you will find a treasure. Estate sales in older sections of towns sometimes can be lucrative. The treasure hunt often times is as good as the treasure.

Contributor bio–Allan Seymour is a winter resident of North Shore at the Salton Sea, and a long-time collector and dealer of early California desert art. He was originally interested only in coastal California impressionist paintings from 1880-1930. Allan researched San Diego artist Alfred Mitchell after seeing his magnificent paintings of the cliffs and ocean at Black’s Beach in La Jolla, and found Mitchell also painted extensively in the Anza-Borrego desert. Following Mitchell’s art journey led Allan to appreciate the desert. The collector was amazed at the hardships the early desert painters endured to capture the subtle changes in light and color caused by the low winter sun.

It was F. Grayson Sayre’s original oil painting titled “The Turquoise Sea” that motivated Seymour to purchase a home on the NE corner of the Salton Sea. Allan Seymour works as an art consultant and broker of early California desert art by appointment. Please contact Allan at Dos Palmas Fine Art, 75501 Desertaire Drive, North Shore, CA 92254 (949) 422-3383.