A Brief Year in Review: 2016-2017

Water Stop by Martin Grelle
It’s snow and shorter days here in North Idaho (lots of snow).  It’s our wake-up call to put one year to bed and welcome the optimism of a new year.  One of my goals with this blog, and a staple to my approach in selling Western art is education.  I want the people I come into contact with to be as informed as I am.  With the research tools of the Internet and the transparency in today's art market, the more a collector knows, the easier my job is because I have nothing to hide.  When a collector understands how to value paintings, what collection factors are, who to keep an eye on, and trusts the people they work with, then everyone benefits.  As we welcome 2017, you will want to stay tuned for what I'm bringing to the table this year.  From essays on historical artists, updates on current events, strengths and weaknesses in the Western Art market, major auction previews and reviews, tips for managing your collection, and hopefully something enjoyable to add to your morning cup of coffee.

Julius Seyler - Buffalo Hunt 

Let's begin with a brief review of the overall market for Western art.  The Western art market seems to have stumbled along like most of the major commodity and stock markets.  For the year, oil has been virtually unchanged, the stock market up slightly and interest rates have remained quiet.  That is until Nov. 8th.  We’ve noticed an increase in activity after the election that coincides with the stock market's rise to all time highs.  We can’t say for certain, but it appears that the attitude change is due to the prospect of lower regulations for many businesses resulting in a better environment for profits, or maybe we were just all sick of the election process.  Whatever the reason, we like it and optimism seems higher than it's been in years.

Tim Shinabarger - Clash of Thunder 

When trying to stay on top of the Western art auction world, it’s important to take the data and peel it back to analyze the details.  For example, the Russell auction in Great Falls reported sales of $7.6 milllion at their 2016 auction.  When you look at the overall sale, it was 14 lots or 5% of the lots that generated 80% of the sale.  Scottsdale Art Auction sold nearly $9 million at their 2016 sale compared to $14 million the year before.  This was in direct correlation to the quality of works that they offered up.  The CDA Art Auction isn’t immune to the competition for quality works as they didn’t have the usual multimillion dollar items; however, Stuart, Mike and Pete did a masterful job of keeping the estimates realistic and posted an industry leading $18.3 million.  The Jackson Hole Auction presented a strong group of wildlife paintings and were rewarded with $8.4 million in sales.  Whether it’s the increased competition, the increase in auction fees, or a more educated collector, we’re seeing a trend towards private treaty sales.  If you’re selling a piece through auction make sure your reserves are reasonable, because studies show an average of a 30% decrease in value if your painting passes at auction.  Consider a private sale before you commit to an auction house and as always choose your auction house wisely.

Mark Maggiori - On The Edge 

During a recent trip to Santa Fe we are happy to report a very vibrant Western art market in one of America's great art cities.  The galleries were reporting good sales and saying that the market is attracted to the younger artists that are trying to separate themselves from the more traditional artists.  The market for the great historic artists seemed very good as it was nice to see some great fresh to the market works by the Taos School artists.  We came home with a few gems that we are excited to offer for sale.

Andy Thomas - 3 Shots At Midnight 
There seems to be a pocket of weakness in the market for older more established artists.  Their price-points tend to be higher, and the re-sales that are coming out at auction and on consignment are growing fast.  The trend can be contributed to the length of their careers and the aging of their collector base.  Some artists are having a hard time competing with themselves.  If they are not active with a gallery, it only seems to intensify the discrepancy in price. 

It’s great to see some of the contemporary artists that are pushing the envelope find so much success.  There’s a demand for styles that are unique and collectors are finding good value in some of these emerging artists.  In the historic market, there seems to be strength in our favorite Northwest market.  Names like Paxson, Seltzer, and Fery have strong collector bases, and works by William Standing and Blackfeet works by Julius Seyler have been selling as fast as we can acquire them.  Of course, there's always a demand for C.M. Russell works.

Stay tuned as I'm currently working on a new project that I think is going to be educational, beneficial and a bunch of fun for our clients.  Have you ever been to the incredible Quinn's Hot Springs in Paradise, MT?

2016 marked my gallery's 30th anniversary, so if you need help liquidating any of the pieces in your collection, give our proven track record a shot.  That will make room for you to pick up one of the great new works we just got into the gallery…

Michael Cassidy - Apsaalooke 
William Standing - The Challenge 
Colt Idol - Fresh Light 


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