Kay Hively: Hometown hero on ‘Antiques Roadshow’
I was watching "The Antiques Roadshow" this past week and was delighted to see a drawing done by our hometown hero, Thomas Hart Benton.
The drawing of a small black girl spent many years hidden behind something else in the frame. Benton used it on a mural in Indiana.
The expert who discussed the drawing said that in the 1930s, Benton had been hired to do a mural on the history of the state. He wanted one panel of the mural to depict the era of the Klu Klux Klan. That, as you can imagine, was very controversial, and the powers that be in Indiana argued over this idea. Eventually, Benton was given permission to include the panel as he wanted it.
In her discussion of the drawing, which had that unforgettable Benton signature, the expert had wonderful things to say about the drawing and about Benton. She estimated the value of the drawing between $12,000 and $18,000.
It's always fun to see something you are familiar with being talked about on television. And when the subject has hometown roots, it is really special.
Of course, as the program continued, a man showed up with a letter jacket that had belonged to the great Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas. I believe it was a "championship jacket" from 1958. The expert appraiser was crazy about the jacket and estimated its value at between $40,000 and $60,000.
I don't know what to make of the values given both these pieces. Does the higher value mean that we place more importance on sports items than on artistic or historic items?
As I watched and thought about these two items, I was taken with both of them. Of course, the Colts are no longer in Baltimore — having run out of town in the middle of the night a few years ago to become the Indianapolis Colts. And the team in Baltimore now are the Ravens.
While I am not particularly fond of any of the above mentioned teams, I do have great respect for Johnny Unitas and I would appreciate having something as close to him as a jacket.
And, of course, it was be fine to own an original piece of Benton work as well.
Speaking of paintings, I was really taken with a piece of artwork I saw this past week when I was up at the Audubon Center at Redings Mill. I had gone there to do an interview, and while I waited for my subject, I was given a seat in a conference room. On the wall in that room was a really nice, large painting of Redings Mill.
Actually, the painting was behind me as I sat waiting, and I didn't notice it until I got up to go to the office where the interview was to be. Because of that, I didn't get a really good look at the work, but I will go back and study it longer. I believe it was dated 1929.
It was a very dark piece, but quite dramatic.
The lady I was there to interview said the painting had been donated by a local resident after the Audubon Center opened. How lucky for the center.
If you like art, I suggest you ask to see the painting if you get up to the center. I think you'll like it as well. It is a wonderful piece of artwork and a fine historical record of the old mill that is now gone. I'm glad someone painted it and that it's on display.
Neosho Daily News