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    A Unique Art Auction & 1960s-themed Exhibit

    If you want to learn something about Chester County art—and even have a chance to start your own collection—head over to the Chester County Art Association (at 100 N. Bradford Ave.) On Saturday evening (October 28) at 5 pm, the center will be hosting a live auction of rare and original works of art by some of the painters who defined the art movement known as the Brandywine Tradition of Art.


    Also on display at the art center, in a amazing double feature, is an exhibition of 1960s art, much of it representing classic concert &  protest/social justice posters—the kind of homemade and silkscreened works-on-paper that were typically stapled to that ancient artifact known as a telephone pole—as well film posters and album covers.


    The exhibit, titled “Art As Change: 1960’s Revolutionary Images,” and months in the making, which I am sorry to say ends Sunday, was culled from a collection of about 200 posters owned by Richard Chalfant, a West Chester native and well-known landscape painter.


    “I was just a teenager,” Chalfant said of the early days of his collecting habit, “I was just struck by the art and thought it was an important part of the community, so to speak.”


    The exhibit is rounded out by 1960s sculpture, period modern furniture, and paintings, many of them on loan from Sunset Hill Fine Art Gallery’s collection of works by Harry Dunn, a beloved West Chester artist whose work was once described as being like potato chips—you couldn’t collect just one. Dunn also had his own unique take on the 1960s counterculture, though he was best known for his quirky images inspired by local landmarks, borough neighborhoods, and traditions such as annual parades.


    Still, Chalfant’s poster collection reveals his talent for having the foresight to collect artists who went onto become quite famous (his son, Owen, has continued in his footsteps and also has pieces he has collected in the exhibit). These visual pioneers include the  photographer Richard Avedon (b.1923) and Wes Wilson (b. 1937) who developed European-inspired lettering style that brought, according to one caption, “a landmark change in poster scene.”


    Of course, the exhibit is also fun to see; in fact, the art work displayed in the two gallery spaces brings to mind that old Monty Python routine called “And now, for something completely different.”


    When I first saw the entire room-full of art, with garish “pop” colors and psychedelic concert imagery, it seemed a bit too much.  Then I settled down into studying each piece  as its own art genre and began to notice the artistic themes, the typical 1960s radical swiping or “stealing” from past art movements such as Art Nouveau and Art Déco. I had forgotten about the Native American tributes, the developments in photo silkscreen, and the time-on-your-hands art work that included intricate pen & inks designed to look like 19th-century calling cards.


    But to return to the auction, it is a rare occurrence for the non-profit art center. It came about because a local family decided to sell  their art collection and give part of auction proceeds to the art center. So it’s a significant fund-raising event for the Chester County Art Association. All the art to be sold is from an important art collection by the late John L. Hall, Sr., his late wife, Marion, and the estate of his daughter, Bonnie L.Hall. The daughter, who tragically died in a house fire several years ago, had continued to add to her parents’ art collection. According to the art center’s publicity, the auction pieces (examples are shown here in a photo collage) represent “a select group of Chester County artists who have all achieved national and global recognition.”


    The highlights of the collection include signed Andrew Wyeth limited-edition prints, watercolors by contemporary artists Peter Sculthorpe and Philip Jamison and original works by 19th-century painters Christopher Shearer and George Cope. All of these  artists offer a mini history lesson in the way artists of different eras interpret the Pennsylvania landscape.


    In sort of a neat twist, Jamison spoke on a recent night about his friendship with John L. Hall, both as an artist whose work was collected by Hall and as fellow collector. Jamison recalled “going down to Birmingham” as he called the township south of West Chester to attend an auction in the late 1950s. It was a simpler time, he said, when he and Hall could easily acquire work by Horace Pippin and Barclay Rubincam, whom they both knew.

    LEFT: Art as Change exhibit. RIGHT: Peek at the poster exhibit. 

    The live auction featuring original art and some prints from the Hall family collection begins Saturday, Oct 28th at 5 p.m.


    To purchase your online tickets or to find more about the auction, visit