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My Ten Dollar Treasure

by judithmcconnell

Oh, you may say, it’s only a picture. True. But wait.

If you read my previous post, Design Decision, you are aware that my taste is traditional and believe rooms ought be ‘collected’ as opposed to ‘decorated.’ At the time I purchase from an estate sale a Hollywood Recency style (the substantial brass oriental drawer pulls are probably worth what I pay for the entire four drawer chest) for $100 which I later learn is worth nearer $1200. Whatever, I love the way it looks and its utility seems endless.

At the same sale (online) I notice this picture and think about it for awhile. Do I need it? Not really, but I’ve a place for it and do love English gardens and their likenesses. So, maybe. Careful with money and always with what I acquire for my home, however and from wherever – I’m really taken with it, it’s only ten dollars so I go for it.

A friend picks these up and delivers them. The picture arrives with two small white notes taped to the glass. One reads, ‘signed by artist Jim Gray,’ and the other ‘limited edition lithograph.’ Interesting. I walk past my new treasure for weeks before determining I should tape this information to the back of the frame. Framed in Oklahoma, I buy it in Illinois?

Prior to achieving the switch I look up the artist. He is apparently very well known and appreciated in the area of Gaitlinburg, Tennessee where he has a gallery. Herein I learn there are 1500 copies of my (number 1204) lithograph, named ‘Summertime,’ and sells for $300 plus $20 shipping (prior to framing). Jim Gray sells more than 2,000 paintings and 125,000 prints to collectors in the United States and abroad during his career. Does that make me an art collector? How fun. How surprising. This isn’t the especially exciting part though.

The artist has an interesting biography, two pages printed which I also attach to the back of the frame. In 1968 a writer from National Geographic visits the area to write about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and happens to stop by Jim’s gallery asking about his artwork and where he paints. Jim’s enthusiasm inspires the writer to include Jim in his article which leads to national coverage in other magazines. A more historical event will emerge from this chance meeting.

World famous astronomer Carl Sagan, in charge during the early 1970’s of NASA’s project of recording the sights and sounds of earth includes into each of two gold coated recording disks affixed to the sides of space probes, Voyager I and II contain 118 photographs of our planet, our civilization and ourselves; one in each is of Jim painting in his home/studio. These probes are now in deep space far beyond our solar system and will continue to fly, perhaps forever.

So, to my mind, truly a treasure. Even if it isn’t exactly an English garden.

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