Treasure: Streetside find turns out to be a gem
Sometimes the curb produces treasures along with the trash. Mary Ann Flores of Canton was lucky enough to experience the first recently.
“I found this on my neighbors’ curb the night before trash pickup,” she wrote in an email to the column hoping for more information about the artist. “I thought it was very interesting and reminded me of Picasso’s art. Upon further examination I noticed that it was a print, 1/30. Looks like the artist signed it in pencil on the right bottom, and the name of the art on the left bottom. Unfortunately I could not find a date. The artist’s name, it was determined after trying many different spellings, I believe is William Schaaf. The name of the art piece is “Altamira Starback or one of Andy’s many Cherokees.” I did find an artist online and in Facebook with this name. Also, the figure of the horse is an important part of his work.
“I spoke to my neighbor about it and she said that she was collecting things for her daughter’s apartment, that a friend gave it to her. Her daughter did not like the piece, she didn’t care much for it, so she put it on the curb.”
Bob DuMouchelle took a closer look at the item — a black-and-white image of a woman on horseback — at a recent appraisal session held at the downtown auction house and art gallery.
DuMouchelle found a little more information about the artist online, including a website dedicated to his work at williamschaaf.com. A native of Virginia, he later worked in Florida but has had connections to various museums and universities, including Wayne State, according to the site. He has long worked with horse images, which correlates to the one that Flores brought in. According to the information on the site, the horse is a favorite image, one that “serves as an iconic metaphor for power, sensuality, transition and beauty.”
While information on the artist was available, there were not many auction results, which made it a little more of a challenge to appraise, says DuMouchelle. A gouache on paper went for $200 at auction, he said, but it was a more abstract work.
Because of Flores’ image’s quality and the fact that Schaaf is a listed artist, he appraised the piece at $100-$150 — not bad for a curbside treasure, he pointed out. “It’s a great free find, either way,” he told her. She agreed. “I think I’m going to keep it,” Flores decided after the appraisal.” Now that it has been to DuMouchelles it’s even more interesting.”
Do you have an object you would like to know more about? Send a photo and description that includes how you acquired the object to: The Detroit News, Trash or Treasure?, 160 W. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48226. Include your name and daytime telephone number. You may also send your photo and description to firstname.lastname@example.org. If chosen you’ll need to bring the items to an appraisal session. Letters are edited for style and clarity. Photos cannot be returned.
About this item
Item: Black and white print
Owned by: Mary Ann Flores
Appraised by: Bob DuMouchelle
Estimated value: $100-$150 at auction