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How A Hardware-Store Owner’s Foray Into Fine-Art Authentication

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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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Windsor Public Library wants to show you local art while you ride your bike – CBC.ca

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Windsor Public Library wants to showcase the city’s downtown art. It plans to have two cycling tours to show it off.

Becky Mayer, a librarian at the Windsor Public Library organized the tours. She said the main reason she wanted to do this is because people think there’s nothing to do or see in Windsor.

“I often ride my bike around and I see a lot of cool and weird stuff,” said Mayer. “So, I just thought that maybe a few people would want to join me on a weird stuff tour.”

Mayer said she’ll be bringing Betty the Bookmobile along for the journey. She said the ride will be pretty casual and if someone has a story to tell she’s happy to give them space to share.

“I’m fine with talking as well. If you want to have a silent tour, that’s also cool. Like, it’s very, very casual. Go with the flow. We’ll see what happens,” Mayer said.

The first tour starts at 6 p.m. August 16, the second tour is on August 20 starting at 10 a.m. The tours last about an hour and starts at the library’s Central Branch at the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Pitt Street.

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Youth get creative at summer art camp – Lakeland TODAY

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ST. PAUL – A variety of mediums were used to create unique works of art during a week-long Youth Art Camp held at the St. Paul Visual Arts Centre, last week.

Pam Bohn, the art instructor for the art camp, said the camp gives youth the chance to not only do art but form friendships.  

“We also go outside to play and go to the park, and so it is also a day where they can make friends.”

The art camp included acrylic painting, watercolour painting, mixed media projects, and much more.

“While I facilitate the classes, [the children] are free to create as they please,” she said. “That allows those who like to do art that freedom to have different art mediums and try things that they may be unable to do at home.”

Bohn said the participating youths have enjoyed the art camps, adding, “They all get excited when they come and take their [art] home to show their parents.”

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The Hive celebrates three new exhibitions at Art Gallery of Burlington | inHalton – insauga.com

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Published August 15, 2022 at 2:41 pm

A special event celebrating three new exhibits is being hosted by the Art Gallery of Burlington.

The Hive is happening Saturday, Aug. 27, from 1 to 4 p.m. This free, all-ages event incorporates the organization, cooperation and energy of a beehive into an afternoon of art, activity, learning and fun.

The Hive will feature a special workshop led by Toronto’s Clay and Paper Theatre, live arts and crafts demonstrations, a screen-printing presentation, live performance, food and drink.

The event is being held in celebration of the AGB’s three new fall exhibitions:

  • The Future of Work, an exploration into how the pandemic has affected labour markets and our quality of life
  • ਨਜਰ ਨਾ ਲੱਗੇ/Nazar na lage/Knock on wood, a vibrant and meaningful interpretation on the art of rangoli by artist Noni Kaur
  • Know your Place, an exhibit of cartoon-like clay sculpture that reveal the raw emotional experiences of the artist Sami Tsang

Known for work inspired by oral traditions, folk songs, poems and fables, Clay and Paper Theatre will charm participants and audiences with their original multi-disciplinary performance-based production. Guests who wish to participate with Clay and Paper Theatre should arrive early and be ready to create.

Visitors are invited to an interactive, screen-printing demonstration led by artist Jesse Purcell and are encouraged to bring any used clothing to be transformed into a bunting display to be hung in the gallery by the artist collective Works-in-Progress.

Arts Burlington will be opening its doors to guests with arts demonstrations and the Burlington Handweavers and Spinners Guild will guide guests through a natural plant-based dying demonstration, teaching attendees what they need to know to create from home.

The AGB parking lot will be free for the day. For more information, visit the AGB website.


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