Gallerist and auctioneer Jim Cox is hosting a totally online auction in the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s, on Monday December 30 starting at 1 p.m. He feels the time is right for such a move, and as always is full of stories that reveal his thinking about the move.
“We tried this a few years ago, all online, but not at the level of quality we’ll have this time,” Cox said of his latest Collectors Exchange Fine Art Auction, which has pulled together a catalog of over 200 pieces from a wide variety of estates and collections. “That first time was in 2016 and it worked out beautifully as we all sat here in our Willow gallery, watched computer monitors and drank wine.”
This time around, Cox added, online art auctions have become much more common…in fact, he adds, most of the auctions he’s visited in the past year or so have had more staff on hand than collectors.
Cox tells a story about going to one such auction a while back, where he had bid, and bought, a few pieces he’d sold to a law firm decades earlier, when he was running the legendary Grand Central Galleries in New York City. When he and his wife decided to pop through the auctioneer’s space to pick up their pieces, another sale was on and the two watched as the auctioneers would place a piece of sculpture on a turntable and stream an image of it spinning for those watching online.
“They even had a ‘gavel cam,’” Cox continued, noting that most of the operation came down to “a few people on couches.” After they got visitors, the auctioneers announced a 15 minute break and everyone shared some pizza, some wine. They hung out before returning to the online bidders. “Unfortunately, when they went to put a new sculpture on the turntable they found a slice of pizza spinning for the camera.”
Cox said that, despite the fact that online auctions have their own problems, he’s confident that the time is right for his return to the market. Especially with the “higher tier of material” he’ll be offering on December 30.
Among the 200 plus pieces that will be up for online auction, and viewable in person at the James Cox Gallery in Willow now through the sale, are ones from artists estates the gallery represents, including Elaine Wesley, Joseph Garlock, Konrad Cramer, Margery Ryerson and Ed Baynard, as well as the art and collection of the late teacher and gallerist Ben Wigfall.
Cox said this week he was particularly pleased to be offering a number of never-seen works by a former Woodstock resident, now 102 and living in Florida, who’s donated works to the Woodstock Fire Department, as well as a large number of California landscapes by Robert Van Vorst Sewell donated to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore in Kingston.
“It feels good to be able to give back to the community,” Cox said, noting the high percentages of “hammer prices” the non-profits will be getting for the works they’ve put into the sale, as well as the ways he’s worked with other institutions around Woodstock over the years.
He also noted other highlights: The previously little-seen fine art work of a former Push Pin Studios illustrator, Jason McWhorter; such artists of the town’s early art colony days as John F. Carlson, Carl Walters and Marion Greenwood; a Joan Snyder and a rare Will Cotton landscape, as well as a striking Louise Nevelson etching and prints by the likes of David Sequeiros, Gunter Grass, Raoul Dufy and Maurice de Vlamick, as well as photographs by Juliet Margaret Cameron, and a group of historic photos of Thomas Edison.
In addition to Live Auctioneers and Invaluable, Cox said that the auction will be carried on a new platform powered by Auction Mobility, which offers live video streaming. Bidders can access this service by visiting the “Auctions” section of the James Cox Gallery website and clicking on the Auction Mobility logo or through the Apple App Store.
“Companies hosting online auctions are strong,” Cox explained. “They are extremely successful with millions of followers.”
He added that he wouldn’t be wearing a tux for the event, but would be “doing all I can to keep the dog from barking.”
“You know you have to keep trying things,” he said. “Everything changes.”
The public preview of the lots going up for auction will be on view weekdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. weekends. The full catalog is also on view at the gallery website, jamescoxgallery.com. For more information, including appointments on actual holiday days, contact the gallery at 845-679-7608 or firstname.lastname@example.org