Alan Liere: The true value of relics

THURSDAY, AUG. 28, 2014

I can’t wait to show off my most recent summer art purchases – two magnificent prints, one by David Maass and one by Lee Kouba. It seems a lot of wildlife artists these days are painting either eagles or wolves, but Maass and Kouba are still doing ducks, and I believe they are better than ever.

I just bought a print of Maass’s “Pitching into Cypress,” which won him 2013 Artist of the Year from Ducks Unlimited. I also made a trade for an older Kouba print called “Bills in the Blocks.” And as for South Dakota artist Adam Grimm’s oil painting of a pair of canvasbacks, I would happily forfeit any number of body parts to own the original. My sister-in-law says I shouldn’t eliminate the option for the sale of body parts – she’s been a little irritable since I moved her daisy watercolor to the bathroom and replaced it with Ron Van Gilder’s print of a yellow Lab retrieving a bluebill in rough water.

I am also still collecting decoys as art, but I have yet to find a genuine wooden block I can afford. Since I’ve spent so much of my yearly allowance of play money on duck prints, it is even probable I’ll have to quit using creamer in my coffee. Fortunately, I have a big inventory of toothpaste in those little 2-ounce samples you get every time you drop a paycheck getting your teeth cleaned.

For now, I guess I’ll have to be content with old decoys constructed of paper mache’ or waxed canvas. My most recent acquisitions are from a dusty top shelf in an antique store here in town. They say “Carry-Lite” and were manufactured in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1941. The bases and bill appear to be wooden, but the bodies are some kind of pressed paper.

As thrilled as I was to find those relics, it depresses me to be buying “antiques that are only three years older than I am. In my mind’s eye, I’m still running up and down the basketball court at Shadle Park High, and once in a while when the phone rings, I’m sure it will be Phil Jackson wanting to know if I can come over and give the Knicks a little help on the boards. My sister-in-law says as long as I’m fantasizing, I might as well pretend Adam Grimm wants to give me a killer deal on that original. The lady can sure hold a grudge. Maybe I should move her daisy picture back to my office. Maybe.

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