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Monday, Sept. 28, 2009

Treasure in the Attic?

Appraising and Restoring Your Art

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The popularity of “Antiques Roadshow” has become a social phenomenon, persuading millions of people that the everyday objects in the background of their lives might be rare, historical or valuable—and that forgotten corners of attics, garages and basements might conceal forgotten treasures.

Since 2006, Landmarks Gallery (231 N. 76th St.), one of Milwaukee’s oldest galleries, has offered appraisal and restoration clinics for art, antiques and other artifacts. The next one, Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m., features free “Antiques Roadshow” style consultation from the following experts.

Mark Moran

 Editor of Warman’s Antiques & Collectables Price Guide, and author of several books on collectables.

Huetta Manion and Mary Manion

 Credentialed art appraisers and members of the New England Appraisers Society.

Monica Mull

 Fine arts restorer

Christine Doughty

 Photo restorer

 “Usually, people aren’t terribly surprised when they learn that their piece isn’t of much value, but there’s always a fragment of hope that it might be valuable,” says Mary Manion.

And sometimes hope is fulfilled. At recent Landmarks appraisal clinics, a married couple brought in a pair of carved wooden bowls worth $5,000 a piece and a woman came with letters found at the bottom of a dresser drawer signed by Scott Joplin.

While it’s unlikely that the paining in your basement is an original Monet, Landmarks has seen a fair number of modestly valuable 19th century German landscape paintings as well as interesting work by Midwest regional artists. “There are a lot of wonderful, unknown 20th century Wisconsin artists,” Manion says. “A lot of it is nice work, even if it will never be worth a lot of money.”

If anything, the restoration end of the clinic offers greater odds for starting results. Torn photographs, paintings covered with a century of grime and etchings pockmarked with holes have been restored to their original luster by the gallery’s restoration team.

Call Landmarks Gallery at (414) 453-1620 for more information.