By Claire Fraser, Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd.
Mary Jo opened Garden Gallery, one of the first fine art galleries in North Carolina, in 1963. Lovingly built and perfectly sited at the Water Garden designed by Dick, a premier landscape architect in the south, the gallery was the perfect venue for showcasing local and national artists. Their keen eyes, intrepid curiosity, and boundless energy served the art community and fellow collectors well for almost forty years.
Over 100 lots from the personal collection of Mary Jo and Dick Bell will be sold on Friday, June 15, beginning at 7:00 P.M. Lots offered in the auction include one of the Bells’ first purchases, a hand-carved bust by Ogden Deal of McLeansville, NC, lot 54, to one of their most recent purchases, an exuberant work by Norbert Irvine of Asheville titled “Carolina Moon over Cake,” lot 99.
In addition to the broad time span covered, numerous medias are also represented in the Bells’ collection. Photographs by Elizabeth Matheson and Nona Short, two preeminent NC photographers, will cross the block on Friday. Finely carved stone sculptures by Horace Farlowe, Dean Leary, and Keith Lambert will be offered as well, alongside exquisitely painted and formed ceramics by MaryLou Higgins and Elaine Reed
While NC artists represent a significant portion of their collection, the Bells championed artists who spoke to their hearts and eyes. One such artist was A. B. Jackson of Norfolk, VA. In 2008 the Bells donated 14 significant works of art by Jackson to the North Carolina Central University Art Museum in Durham – the largest gift in the history of the museum. At the time they kept seven of his works for their personal collection, however, now those seven important works are being offered to the public.
When interviewed regarding the A. B. Jackson donation, Dick said “We’ve been fortunate to be able to collect so much art, now we’re happy to disseminate it.” This same sentiment still holds true today.
Please join us and the Bells for a special wine & hors d’oeuvres reception before the sale to celebrate their collecting passion and joy for an artful life, Friday, June 15, 5:00 – 7:00 P.M.