The day before yesterday I was digging around in the basement looking for something when I came across this painting that I have had for many years. I picked it up remembering how much I liked it and the thought occurred to me that in this day and age of the internet I could possibly find out something about the artist.
In the summer of 1980 between semesters in college, I worked at a small art gallery on the Milwaukee/Wauwatosa border. One day a guy came into the gallery with a bunch of paintings on canvas that he was selling. My impression was that he was going door to door along the street, but now that I think about it, maybe he was just going to art galleries. He laid out his paintings and this one caught my eye. I was a big fan of Norman Rockwell at the time and this reminded me of his work. I don't recall if my door-to-door salesman explained how the painting was created, but in his sales pitch he did say that Vincent Price was also a collector of this artist: H. Hargrove. I bought it for $50 or $60 and it has hung around the house ever since and I have never known anything more about it or the artist.
Isn't the internet amazing? I've often told my kids, "Ya just don't have to wonder about anything anymore." Every question can be answered in an instant. So, armed with that optimism, I sat down with my curiosity at my trusty computer and googled, "H. Hargrove." Was this a man? Was this a woman? I wondered if I would learn anything at all. I was surprised to find 134,000 results for H. Hargrove. Turns out he is now considered one of America's most famous living artists and was named the official artist of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. His real name is Nicolo Sturiano and he's done well for himself since I was a college student in 1980. I was beginning to realize that this painting might have appreciated in value, but after three hours of clicking around, I was still wondering if it had a name or what its actual worth might be - not even a ballpark guess. There wasn't one google image of my painting. I did learn that it is a "serigraph" which Nicolo Sturiano created by layering up to 30 colors on the canvas not knowing exactly what the finished painting would look like. He is said to "paint with silkscreening." The reason I can't find out much about this painting is because it is a very early example of his work even before he started producing numbered, limited editions. Gallery listings only go back to 1982 and I know I purchased this two years before that. So I sent an email to his website. I found out there is a service offered to identify information about the painting if I send them a picture and $15. So that's what I'm going to do because honestly... I can't tell if it's worth $25 or $6,000. I'll let you know.