A Dealer's Perspective

Schlepping for Ansel Adams

The following is an awful occurrence which, nevertheless, can provoke a smile. Back in 1973, I had a major Ansel Adams show here at the gallery. Quite a few prints were sold (at $250.00!), and his business manager, Bill Turnage, appointed me as the official Texas representative for Ansel Adams.

I immediately began schlepping prints around, and I should have caught on to potential problems when I went to the Dallas Museum of Art to make my first call. I had several 16 x 20 inch prints unframed and one 20 x 24 Moonrise framed. For some reason I was thinking it would be worth while to see a print framed to give it more "importance". (Remember, they weren't worth much in those days.) As I was carrying it by the wire across the parking lot, the wire broke, and one corner of the frame hit the concrete. Fortunately, it just created a small "thumbnail" break in the glass at that corner. I wasn't deterred.

I think the Dallas Museum bought a print or two from me, and I next headed for the Witte Museum in San Antonio. I felt confident with my now usual arrangement of unframed prints with one framed one (which now featured a much stronger wire). As I strode confidently into the building, I failed to notice the "slick when wet" sign on the floor and darned if both feet didn't slip right out from under me. The framed Adams hit the floor flat and face up, and down I came, sitting hard right in the middle of it with the wrenching sound of crunching glass!

At least they bought around 10 prints...... That Moonrise, which I had bought for myself before the damage, hangs today above my mantle. The surface mars, none of which broke the emulsion, are barely visible, thanks to a thin covering of clear lacquer. At that time, the print retailed for $350.00; if it were in good shape, one could probably get $25,000.00 for it now (or $75.000.00 to $80,000.00 as of 1/03)! At any rate, the lessons here are to use strong wire, walk carefully when carrying art work, utilize acrylic instead of glass and don't schlep framed pieces if at all possible! (July 3, 1996)