Discerning Eye Blog Dr. Leslie Hammond

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09/06/13 - Winterthur Institute Announcement


September 6, 2013

Leslie Hammond, Ph.D., ASA, has been awarded a scholarship to attend the “Winterthur Institute” program in late September. Hammond is President of Artistic Eye Fine Art Services and an Accredited Senior Appraiser of Fine Arts with the American Society of Appraisers.

Only twenty candidates are accepted to the Winterthur Institute annually.

“The honor of being accepted into this elite program will allow me the opportunity to build upon and hone my skills as I continue to expand my business into the field of antiques and decorative arts,” Hammond said. 

The intensive two week educational curriculum focuses on American Antiques & Decorative Arts at the Winterthur Museum, Gardens & Library in Delaware, just northwest of Wilmington and nestled within the Brandywine River Valley.

Artistic Eye Fine Art Services, LLC. assists clients properly identify and value their art, antiques and collectables and she confidentially advises them through the maze of buying and selling. In order to learn more about these services contact 352-867-1863 or see http://www.artisticeye-fas.com/.

About Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Almost 60 years ago, collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont
(1880–1969) opened his childhood home, Winterthur, to the public. Today, Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the premier museum of American decorative arts, with an unparalleled collection of nearly 90,000 objects made or used in America between about 1640 and 1860. The collection is displayed in the magnificent 175-room house, much as it was when the du Pont family lived here, as well as in permanent and changing exhibition galleries.
Winterthur is set amidst a 1,000-acre preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands. Designed by du Pont, its 60-acre naturalistic garden is among America’s best, with magnificent specimen plantings and massed displays of color. Graduate programs and a preeminent research library make Winterthur an important center for the study of American art and culture.
For more information about Winterthur and its programs see http://www.winterthur.org/ or call 800-448-3883.

03/29/13 - Colorful Spring

Last week I had the most delightful time reconnecting with the wonderful artist Irene Neal and her husband Paul in Merritt Island, Florida. We first met when I was the Chief Curator at the Appleton Museum of Art and were introduced through another artist, Graham Peacock, who contacted me about donating his work to the museum. Graham, Irene and others formed a group that began in the late 1970s that is called the “New New Painters” because they made use of the “new” acrylic gel paints (iridescent, glitter, fluorescent) developed by the paint chemists Sam Golden. The New New Painters were championed by Dr. Kenworth Moffitt, the former Curator of 20th century art at the MFA, Boston and Director of the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art and they continue to exhibit collectively and individually throughout the world.

Irene and Paul are wonderfully kind people with a down to earth sensibility that make you simply enjoy spending time with them and listening to their stories of traveling and living on various continents. Undoubtedly these experiences and sensibilities influence Irene’s work, but not always in an obvious way. Irene’s creations are organic, a free-flowing process culminating in mostly nonobjective paintings but often with descriptive titles that allow you to see through her eyes.

Irene is a petite lady and seeing her massive works tower beside her puts it all into perspective. Unfortunately images to not justly replicate the experience one has being in direct view of one of her works. These are three dimensional paintings with physical depth and texture that makes a Van Gogh painting look flat. The oozing, undulating surfaces invite your participation while the intense color palette cannot help but make you smile.


Previously Irene used wooden panels on which to create her paintings but now she is experimenting with lighter surfaces like watercolor canvas, paper and a polycarbonate resin called Lexan. What has not changed however is the flow of her creative spirit and process which is in perfect balance with the vibrant colors and materials she uses. While each makes a statement in its own right, the communion with one another sings in perfect harmony.


01/30/13 - 72 Hours - Road Trip Houston

During part of this past MLK weekend, I completed a seriously condensed round trip, road trip from Ocala, Florida to Houston, Texas; thank you wingman McCall. The New York Times has a travel series call “36 hours in…” in which a city is explored during a weekend. Houston was also recently featured in the New York Times as one of the top 46 destinations for 2013. A requisite business trip results in my “Artistic Eye-View” of literally 36 hours in Houston.

Interstate 75 North at 6:30am (EST) and arrival in Houston about 11 pm (CST) necessitated only two significant stops: lunch at Felix’s Fish Camp Grill on Mobile Bay in AL and dinner at Blue Dog Café in Lafayette, LA. The Blue Dog Café was unwittingly discovery by my wingman via his smart phone while I was driving. When we arrived and I saw the sign, a light bulb illuminated; this was THE Blue Dog artist of New Orleans, George Rodrigue. Coincidentally, a work by this artist was the subject of an assignment earlier in 2012.

Having one business day to explore Houston, I had to my prioritized my goals: The Menil Collection and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. I have known about The Menil Collection since the early 1990s when a traveling exhibit I was working on borrowed some ancient art from their collection. In addition to the stellar examples of ancient Mediterranean and African art, I was also anxious to experience the Rothko Chapel. My only previous enveloping Rothko experience was in the Rothko Room at the Phillip Collection in Washington D.C. Clearly that made an impression, but the Chapel, being a complete structure and experience unto itself brought serenity to the senses.

At the MFA-Houston many collections I hoped to see were closed for reinstallation including the American and 20th Century collections as well as the Arts of the Islamic World. However, there were plenty other stunning artworks to fill my afternoon including their featured special exhibit “Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado.” A few of the permanent collection highlights included Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Tiger on the Watch (detail), an ancient Egyptian life-size gilded-wood and bronze sculpture of an Ibis, and a mid-18th Century Fly Whisk from India carved from a single elephant tusk. The latter seemingly defies physics with its whisper thin slivers of ivory comprising the hairs of the whisk.

Friday concluded with a glass of wine at The Tasting Room-Uptown Park with colleagues followed by dinner at the recommended Indian restaurant Pondicheri which exceeded expectations. Saturday morning the subject property was collected and safely packed for the long return drive. Despite the virtually non-stop trip, all arrived safely about 3:45am Sunday; thus ending the 72 hour, 1900 plus mile adventure.

12/06/12 - The Giving Time of Year

While many of my friends and colleagues are currently indulging their artistic and hedonistic side at Art Basel Miami Beach; I am crunching time with end of the year requests for donation appraisals. This year end crunch is not uncommon, but this year it is especially critical as donors are scurrying to beat the “fiscal cliff” clock.

As of this writing, there are no specific proposals from democrats or republicans targeting charitable deductions. Nevertheless, as the days pass and talks continue to stalemate it is not unlikely that these deductions will not be ignored as an option for addressing the impending spending cuts and tax increases. Nonprofit organizations are not taking any chances either. Many continue to lobby congress to retain the status quo.

Countless nonprofits rely on monetary as well as personal property donations for subsistence, building resources, not to mention collections development. Some donors do give for heartfelt reasons but others only make charitable contributions because they will receive some level of tax deduction.

If you are considering making any contribution to a nonprofit institution and your intent is to gain tax deductions as a result, please contact your financial advisor regarding your specific case; details matter.

If you are planning to specifically donate personal property you are not required to have an appraisal completed by December 31st but the item(s) is required to physically be located at the intended institution. That being said, an appraisal for donation purposes does have a shelf life. In other words, an appraisal must be completed within a specific window of time relative to the actual donation for it to be valid.

So if you are concerned about potentially losing your option to take advantage of the current tax deductions for charitable contributions,


09/11/12 - The Arts in Door County, Wisconsin

Back in full swing in the states and body clock adjusted; this past week I was in Door County, Wisconsin; a peninsula flanked by Green Bay and Lake Michigan. As in Florida, I love being surrounded by bodies of water.

The mission of the trip was to inventory a large collection of Native American Plateau Cornhusk bags. These bags were typically used as a type of saddle bag to carry foodstuffs and smaller ones were designed as pouches and handbags.

Certainly the focus of my trip was work but I was still excited to experience a bit of Door County which is known as an enclave of cultural offerings in the visual and performing arts.  Although brief, exposure to the sights, sounds, and tastes of the area certainly whetted my appetite for a return to explore further.

A few highlights included the Fine Line Designs Gallery and Sculpture Garden in North Ephraim and in Fish Creek I took in visits to the Peninsula School of Art, the Edgewood Orchard Galleries, and a tour of the Peninsula Players Theater in a Garden.

The most memorable impressions included the installation “Primordial Shift” by Michael Meilahn at the Peninsula School of Art. Meilahn’s work consists of 32 giant, hand-blown glass and bronze ears of corn. With a video projected behind, these ears of corn seem to gently sway in the fields.

Another bright spot in an otherwise rainy day was exploring in and around the Edgewood Orchard Galleries. Not only were the gallery spaces eclectically displayed with a variety of media and styles for a diversity of personal tastes; the owners were warmly welcoming and the sculpture walk was inviting despite the weather. I especially loved the encouragement to participate within the sculpture walk environment were local stones were set out for impromptu sculpture construction. 

No trip to Wisconsin would be complete without dairy farms dotting the rolling landscape. While Marion County, FL has its horse farms, Wisconsin’s fields are filled with the black and whites that supply us with that tasty treat that makes one smile and just say “CHEESE.”

Previous entries are available in the archive.