As much as it excites me to find second hand designer purses, finding original art is what truly thrills. When a piece strikes me from the dusty shelf of a thrift store, the feeling is not unlike love at first sight.

Yesterday, I found an original signed silk screen print from 1967 by Barclay Sheaks called “Skywatcher II.” The woman in pink looking up at the sky, the yellowing paper, the chipped frame, the signature in pencil… all these details open a world for me. They’re like caffeine for the imagination. What stories do things hold? Where did this hang before it found my mantel? Where are the other twenty-four prints? How about “Skywatcher I”? What was she looking at? Who was this woman to the artist?

Barclay Sheaks was a nationally known painter and founder of the art department of Virginia Wesleyan College. He was 81 years old when he died in April 2010. He mostly painted landscapes. I love the possibility that “Skywatcher II” might have been a departure from how he normally worked, his crack at cool and groovy, perhaps an attempt to follow the Warhol trend of the 60’s.

Pond 1988.

Deserted Farm 1965.

Skywatcher II 1967.

Skywatcher II above my mantel.

Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. the thing is, I could have seen Skywalker II at the thrift store–someone could even have put it in my hand–and I wouldn’t have purchased it. Even though I love art and that is a wonderful piece. And now, I will just have to be thrilled–and perhaps envious–to see it in your house. Damnit.


    • For $22, you too would have grabbed it.

  2. and another thing. I love this blog. I wish more of my friends did this–these great, easily consumable snapshots into life.

    I like you more now.
    And I liked you a lot before.


    • Get a blog of your own and I may say the same about you. ; )

    • Steve, please subscribe on the site or accept my fb invite. The more followers the more legit I look. Thank you.

  3. I’m with Steve. Patti, you always FIND stuff, but are you some kind of a genius? When I go to thrift stores I always think of you. What would Patti do? Did I just touch something worth millions and didn’t know it?

    • Thrifting has given me a way to put all my useless knowledge of brand names to some fun practical use. Thanks for wondering if I’m a genius.

  4. So, did you know he was a famous artist before you purchased it or did you purchase it for the art and then look him up at home ? I buy hand embroidered pieces at the thrift store for similar reasons. I wouldn’t say it’s love at first sight, but I do feel compelled to buy it because surely someone didn’t embroider it to have it sit in a thrift store, right ? I like wondering if it was a young woman or an old woman, was it after she was married or while she was still single ? Did she have long stretches to work on it because she was “child-free” or did she have to embroider in bits and pieces while children were napping. I like to think that she would be happy that someone appreciates it.

  5. I had no idea who the artist was, but the signature and the one of twenty-five written out with date and title clued me in. And the print itself was extraordinary.

    I’ve actually picked up a couple of embroidered tea towels. It’s such intricate, time consuming work, and especially if it’s well done, and it’s $.95, you gotta give it a home.

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