Trash or Treasure: Painter member of prestigious art colonies

The Detroit News
James Avery with his oil painting at the DuMochelle Art Gallery in Detroit.


Provenance is a useful thing when it comes to antiques, and James Avery had more than most about the painting he recently brought in for appraisal.

“The story goes back to my father’s maiden aunt, “ Avery told Mallory Jamett at at a  session held downtown at DuMouchelle Art Gallery and auction house.  “She was one of four who lived in Detroit near Wayne State University. At some point she commissioned this artist to do a painting and she hung it in her apartment for years. She died in the mid-1960s and it went to my father. It hung in our house until 1998 and came to me in 2002. It now hangs in my basement. My wife hates it and refuses to let me bring it upstairs. 

Jamett agreed that the artist is Ken Gore and that his signature could be found in two places, on the front of the canvas and on the back. The title of the work is “Atlantic Avenue,” she said, with the further identification of Rockport, Massachusetts.

Gore was born in Illinois in 1911 and attended school in Detroit, she told Avery, adding that he died in 1990 and was known for being part of the Rockport artist colony, an organization he was president of for a time.

According to the website “Ken (Kenneth Leon) Gore was born in 1911 in Illinois. He studied at the Meinzinger Art School in Detroit. He was an important member of the Rockport/Gloucester art colony in Massachusetts as well as the Brown County art colony in Indiana. He moved to Gloucester in the 1950s and ultimately became the president of the prestigious North Shore Art Association there. He was a teacher and participated in many art workshops in the Cape Ann area. He was also a member of the Rockport Art Association. He was best known for his shore and landscapes scenes done in the Cape Ann area. His unique technique often included a heavy impasto with the paint applied with a palette knife, giving his paintings an almost three-dimensional quality. He died in 1990.” 

Jamett also told Avery that most of Gore’s works are landscapes and that she found evidence of only a few street scenes like his example, which is a picturesque street scene of houses.“Most of his works seem to go somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500, with the most recent selling between $500 and $1,000,” she added.

For this reason she estimated its value at auction between $500 and $700. Avery was happy to have more ammunition and information that might justify him being able to keep the pleasant scene in the family. “My wife thinks I am a hoarder but it’s the only thing I have from my aunt,” he explained. “ I will keep it even if it just hangs over the computer. “ 

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About this item

Item: Oil on masonite board 

Owned by: James Avery 

Appraised by: Mallory Jamett, DuMouchelles 

Estimated value: $500 to $700 at auction