Submitted by April Blogger of the Month, Letty Watt
My husband and I share a fascination for books and museums. Often, there is a museum or bookstore on our travel list. From the greatest to the least, it matters not to us, as we peruse our interests. This winter we spent a week with family in NYC and soaked our souls in visual memories from Battery Park to Central Park and from Tribeca to Brooklyn.
On our last day, we received an invitation to attend an auction at Sotheby’s Auction House. We sat silent and motionless as was watched and listened to “Fine Books and Manuscripts” being auctioned. An original four-panel Peanuts comic strip signed by Schulz sold for $12,500. A handwritten letter from Auguste Rodin sold for $1875. The carbon typescript of the corrected production script with technical notes for the radio story, War of the Worlds by Orson Welles sold for $30,000. I pinched my husband’s arm and smiled. Here we were experiencing a once in a lifetime moment, witnesses to dramatic words of art that we only knew of through newspapers and textbooks. We walked away in awe after watching an intense auction for Tennessee Williams’ working draft of the stage play A Streetcar Named Desire, which sold for $406,000. Little did I know how colorful and exciting the remainder of our day would become, and we won’t mention the Scotch Bars and musicians we enjoyed between 10 and midnight!
Our young curator collected catalogues of the sales for us and encouraged us to tour the rooms of items to be auctioned in the future. Imagine my wonderment when I entered the room decorated for a ‘wild rumpus’—the Maurice Sendak collection. Even though millions of children and adults know Sendak as an author and illustrator, Sendak preferred to be known as an artist. His imaginative use of color, design, and techniques demonstrate that his abilities as an artist come from his heart and mind.
The lure of color, texture, and richness drew us into the next showcase of “Tiffany Dreaming in Glass.” Barely breathing, I walked right up to the “Peacock” table lamp. The note read—circa 1905 with a rare blown glass reticulated base, leaded glass, favrile glass, and patinated bronze shade. I let out my breath then ever so gently I touched the lampshade. To be honest I petted the lampshade like I might a favorite dog. I knew I’d never be that close to a real Tiffany again. For a mere $70-$100,000 we could place bid or just dream.
Sitting on our coffee table are the books we picked up at Sotheby’s. One entry read that Tiffany had a passion for incorporating art into everyday life and objects, by marrying artistic representations of the natural world with technical innovations. The writer’s words in the catalog helped me to appreciate the various patterns, tones, textures, jewels, and glass. It is that marrying of ideas, imagination, and talents that I so deeply admire in artist, whether it’s photography, paintings, sculptures, or written words. Art is exhilarating.
Writing soothes my soul and clears my mind. I began writing my weekly blog, Literally Letty, with the purpose of building a repertoire of stories for telling aloud, and experimenting with style. Now I write because stories, hidden in the recesses of my mind, are begging to be shared.