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A Hardware-Store Owner’s Foray Into Fine-Art Authentication – The New Yorker

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A new documentary follows a Brooklyn man trying to determine if a painting from a Moscow flea market is the work of a Russian master.

For Peter Guppy, the owner of Prosperity Hardware, in Brooklyn, the American Dream is an organizing principle. “The American Dream gives you the opportunity to achieve things,” Guppy, who emigrated with his family from Trinidad, in the seventies, declares with unflinching conviction in “Peter’s Painting,” a short documentary from the Brooklyn-based production company Rota6 Films. Nestled between a driving school and a luxury apartment building in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, the hardware store is aptly named for all the things Guppy’s mother imagined that the United States represented: prosperity, wealth, a good life. When his quest for these aims took Guppy down a new avenue of art collecting—which he calls both a hobby and an adventure—he came to be the owner of a painting with a murky provenance, one that he thought could be the work of a Russian master.

About a decade ago, Guppy’s friend Valeri, an immigrant from Russia, was going through a difficult financial period. Guppy wanted to help but was reluctant to offer a handout, so the two struck a deal for Guppy to buy a painting that Valeri had purchased at an open-air flea market in Moscow, in the nineties. With its sharp lines, red and yellow geometric shapes, and Cyrillic lettering roughly translating to “the fifth congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party,” they thought it could be the work of Kazimir Malevich, the Kyiv-born avant-garde artist who was a pioneer of abstract art in the early twentieth century.

The film is shot almost entirely inside Prosperity Hardware. “When I’m in the hardware store, it’s like I’m in Peter’s mind,” Olivier Bernier, the filmmaker, told me. Just as the family’s business represented for Guppy’s mother the perceived good fortune of life in America, the painting represents it for Guppy. “In economics, you buy low and you sell high,” he says. “There’s money to be gained in art collecting.”

Convinced that the painting was “one-hundred-per-cent” real, Guppy sought to have it professionally authenticated, but struggled to be taken seriously as an art collector. It was Bernier and Tiffany Conklin, the founders of Rota6, who first heard about Guppy and his painting from a mutual friend and who set out to help him get the painting analyzed and, hopefully, turn it into the source of prosperity about which he had always dreamed. In the only scene set outside the hardware shop, Guppy delivers the painting to Art Analysis & Research, where Nica Gutman Rieppi, a professional art authenticator, examines it under a microscope, in search of identifying Malevichian details. Malevich’s work is known, for example, for perfectly straight lines, which he achieved by painting against a cardboard aid.

Back at the hardware shop, James Butterwick, a London art dealer specializing in Russian works, completes his own analysis of the painting. Flanked by hammers and foam paint rollers, Butterwick examines the painting through his round-framed glasses and declares that the chances the piece is real are “on a par with winning the lottery.” In his view, the coupling of the painting’s slight imperfections, which deviate from Malevich’s famously precise edges, with its dubious provenance is an undeniable red flag, but he stops short of classifying the work as a counterfeit.

When Bernier first set out to make a film about Guppy and his family’s business, he imagined a project about the effects of gentrification. But, in the process, he discovered an unexpected story, about Guppy’s appreciation for the irrefutable power of art. Guppy’s painting is something to believe in, whether or not it’s real, he told me: “We place value in it, but it’s really what we believe it to be.” For his part, Guppy has no doubt that his painting is the real thing.

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Kootenay Gallery of Art virtual store project well underway – Castlegar News

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The Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar is in the process of creating a new virtual gift store.

Art curator Maggie Shirley said the virtual store is slated to go online in July and will feature up to 300 pottery, jewellery and woodworking items created by West Kootenay artists.

The gallery started the project to help make up for lost revenue since it has been shut down since mid-March due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The new website will have an accessible layout for everyone, according to Shirley.

“We’ve been categorizing each art piece as we put it onto the virtual store,” said Shirley.

“One category will let customers search for different objects on the site while another category will let people search for individual artists.”

The art gallery is setting up a completely new website for the virtual store and will have debit and credit card payment options. Links will also be put on the art gallery’s existing website and social media pages to direct people to the virtual store.

Shirley said the project has been time consuming, especially since it takes staff up to 30 minutes to photograph, weigh, measure and put each object online.

Customers will either be able to pick up their items at the art gallery or have them delivered or shipped to their door.

While the items will be able to be shipped across Canada and the United States, Shirley said the high shipping costs could deter some customers away.

Despite the difficulties, Shirley said now has never been a better time to launch the store.

“This is a really important transition time for us and a lot of local businesses. We really want to survive these difficult times and grow,” said Shirley.

“This is a big risk were taking, especially since we don’t know if we’re going to get enough traffic to the virtual store to make it worthwhile. However, this is the future of how people will buy things and its a perfect time to get on the bandwagon.”

Shirley hopes that the art gallery will be able to open its physical store again in September.

READ MORE: Kootenay Gallery of Art offers hand-made gifts

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@connortrembley
connor.trembley@castlegarnews.com

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Levi Nelson art on display in downtown Pemberton – Pique Newsmagazine

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Hydro boxes in Pemberton just got a lot more exciting.

Pieces by Levi Nelson, a Lil’wat Nation artist in his last year at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, are now installed on hydro boxes along Portage Road and on the utility box at the Downtown Community Barn.

“We are incredibly grateful and honoured that Levi shared his artwork with us,” the Village of Pemberton said on a Facebook post on Friday, June 5.

Nelson’s work has been exhibited at the Talking Stick Festival, the Museum of Anthropology, North Vancouver City Art Scape, and the Emily Carr University of Art & Design Aboriginal Student Art Show. He also recently became the first Lil’wat Nation artist to have a piece in the Audain Art Museum’s permanent collection.

The recent hydro box wraps were made possible thanks to a contribution from BC Hydro’s beautification fund.

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Applications being accepted for public art funding – paNOW

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Macleod Campbell explained they are also happy to support public art projects as they help to improve the overall quality of life for people in the city.

“It’s nice to have public art for viewing at this time as well as of course supporting the artist,” she said.

Eligible groups can include a range of organizations from local art groups to private businesses. In order to be eligible, the group has to be working with a professional artist and the piece must be displayed publicly.

There is not a hard deadline for people to apply for funding. Macleod Campbell said applications are subject to approval from the art working committee and city council.

Macleod Campbell explained the city is also working to make people aware of the art which is on display in public spaces around the city, as they have created a public art tour brochure. The document is currently available on the city website and they are looking to get physical copies out into the public.

“That’ll be something as well,” said Macleod Campbell.

MichaelJoel.Hansen@jpbg.ca

On Twitter: @mjhskcdn

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