My fascination with American Folk Art began in early 1959 when I saw an exhibition at the Willard Gallery in Manhattan organized by Adele Earnest of the Stony Point Folk Art Gallery. I was immediately attracted to the exquisite sculptural forms and remarkable spiritual quality of the weathervanes and decoys that were on display. I met Marian Willard through the artists, Morris Graves and Mark Tobey, both of whom exhibited at her gallery and whose work I collected. Not only was Marian long term friends with Adele Earnest but both of them were founding members of the Museum of Early American Folk Art, now known as the American Folk Art Museum. After moving to New York in 1964, I had the opportunity to visit the Stony Point Folk Art Gallery on the Hudson River, north of New York, on a magnificent property that included Adele Earnest's house, an early 19th Century barn that served as the Stony Point Folk Art Gallery exhibition space, and smaller outbuildings. I was so enchanted that I decided to rent one of these houses over several summers as a weekend retreat. This gave me the opportunity to view the ever-changing exhibits and needless to say I got hooked! I couldn't wait to visit on the weekends to see what new pieces of Folk Art had come in. I soon met other collectors who had been buying from the Stony Point Folk Art Gallery for many years, including Alastair Martin, Stewart Gregory and Jean Lipman. In addition to the wonderful pieces in the Gallery that were for sale, Adele maintained her own private collection of remarkable decoys which were on display in her house. The Susquehanna Goose, one of her most favorite decoys, became available just before she passed away.
Company at Stony Point was always lively and included other tenants such as Jasper Johns, Merce Cunningham and John Cage. Adele and I became dear friends. We often had lunch or dinner together where she continuously enlightened me by sharing her vision and wealth of knowledge to help refine my own taste. She enhanced my life enormously by opening up the world of American Folk Art to me. The opportunity to be exposed to some of the sculptural masterpieces of American Folk Art certainly fine-tuned and enhanced my interest and knowledge.
I have been tremendously enriched by the many friends and collectors that Adele Earnest introduced me to. I remain especially indebted to Marian Willard, one of the great American art dealers, who encouraged me to combine Folk Art with contemporary and Asian Art in a harmonious manner. I have had the pleasure of living with these wonderful works of art for a long time and, rather than donate them to a museum, I feel that putting my American Folk Art collection up at auction will afford the opportunity for other collectors to acquire objects that will enrich their lives. I sincerely hope that these pieces will bring their new owners as much pleasure as they have given me over these many years.
This collection of American Folk Art will be sold to benefit the Alvin E. Friedman-Kien Foundation whose mission is devoted to supporting the visual and performing arts, medical research and environmental causes.
SENECA LAKE MODEL, MASON DECOY FACTORY, DETROIT, MICHIGAN, (1896-1924)