Art League auction of paintings beats expectations

$20,000 will fund repairs, scholarships, virtual classes

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By Michelle Dybal

Contributing Reporter

Paintings from the Oak Park Art League's (OPAL) permanent collection were auctioned last month, resulting in just over $20,000 for the nonprofit – more than anticipated. Storing and maintaining the works were not part of OPAL's mission, Jill Kramer Goldstein, executive director, said at the time. 

"We're more about offering opportunities for artists -- professionals and students -- to learn and grow in the arts," she said.

The 17 works, chosen from a larger group of 40 to 50 by Toomey & Co fine art experts, sold for a total of $29,397. That sum includes buyer premiums, 25 or 30 percent added to the gavel price to offset Toomey's costs of running the business. Several works sold well above auction estimates.

For Kramer Goldstein, an online auction was new to her. She followed from home since an in-person auction could not be held at Toomey's Oak Park auction house and showroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As I watched the bids continue to rise on the first items, the pair of Carl Krafft landscape paintings, I was shaking my head, thinking there must be a glitch or something wrong with my computer," Kramer Goldstein said. "When I saw the winning bid amount, I started yelling and called to my family, 'You are not going to believe this!'"

Carl Krafft was a founder of the Oak Park Art League. His oil on panel "Through the Woods," estimated at $1,000 to $2,000 sold for $6,500. Another landscape by him with the same pre-auction estimate sold for nearly $3,000. John Thomas Nolf's oil "Girl in the Woods" also far exceeded its preauction estimate and sold for nearly $6,000. 

"OPAL can now seriously address some of the programming, scholarship and maintenance issues that have been put off for a while," Kramer Goldstein said of their plans to use the funds. "Minor upgrades to the gallery and studio lighting will be addressed as well as establishing a sound scholarship fund for youth."  

"With the recent disruption to in-person classes and workshops due to the pandemic," she said, "we will be using some of the funds to establish new online programming so that our teachers, students and staff can remain connected and engaged."

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