I’ve got a Google Alert set for “Russell Chatham” so that I’ll be notified when anything comes across the internet with those terms. It’s proven to be very informative.
Since I know Mr. Chatham pretty well, have sold his artwork for years and am a self-proclaimed fish bum, this article by James H. Phillips caught my attention. Hope you enjoy it as well.
Goshen News, Goshen, IN
February 13, 2012
OUTDOOR COLUMN: Replacing the new with the old
By JAMES H. PHILLIPS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — If the statement came from any other angler, I would have instantly dismissed it. But Russell Chatham is no ordinary fisherman. He knows whereof he speaks.
Chatham uttered his blasphemy during a short documentary that I encountered the other day on the internet. It came at the same time my mailbox was filling with fishing catalogs, all of which featured this year’s latest fishing rods. The new rods were described as vastly advanced. New resins, new carbon fibers, new tapers made them incomparably superior to earlier models.
Chatham doesn’t buy the advertising hype or the graphite or boron rods. His choice of fly rod is a fiberglass Fenwick made in the mid-1950s, a rod he buys on the used tackle market for next to nothing and refurbishes.
“They are the best rods for distance casting ever made,” he says. He uses them for steelhead, salmon and striped bass.
Coming from anyone else, the statement would be viewed as idiocy. But Chatham’s history is unique.
Raised in San Francisco in the 1940s, he gravitated as a young teen-ager to the San Francisco Casting Club, a place where elite anglers and fly casters gathered to push the boundaries of fly casting. Chatham possessed a temperament and demeanor that prompted club elders to take him under their wing. A world champion fly caster named Jim Green gave him basic instruction.
Soon, he was accompanying highly skilled anglers to northern California rivers in pursuit of big Chinook salmon and steelhead, and on San Francisco Bay for huge striped bass. He once held the International Game Fish Association fly fishing world record for striped bass.
By his own admission, he was “obsessive and compulsive” about fishing in his youth. He fished so often that in any given year he would wear out two or three sets of guides on his rod. He tied flies of his own design. He built his own rods. He quickly ascended to the top rank of Pacific Coast fly anglers.
Today, when nearly all fly anglers have switched to graphite, Chatham prefers an old fiberglass Fenwick designed by one of his mentors, Jim Green.
He buys old rods on the used tackle market for “twenty-five bucks or so.” He then strips them of everything. He replaces the reel seat and cork handle. He ties the guides down with thread. No contrasting thread color to add visual spice, just a simple binding. No protective epoxy coating.
He finds the factory rod with its colorful threadwork “butt ugly.” He prefers pure form and function.
Chatham, a highly successful landscape artist, possesses a bohemian temperament. He doesn’t seek to persuade other anglers to adopt his preferences for tackle, doesn’t care about others’ strategy to catch fish. He is confident in his ability to cast long distances if necessary, and succeeds in easily catching fish, including difficult Atlantic salmon, when others struggle.
Should those of us who fly fish and/or build our own rods heed his advice and abandon the latest graphite rod blanks? Should we haunt the used tackle stores and yard sales to acquire great rods of yore that can be purchased for a song and refurbished for minimal cost?
The idea is tempting.
I have an Orvis fiberglass fly rod that I purchased in the early ‘70s. It is like new. I haven’t used it in more than 30 years, ever since I made the switch to graphite. Chatham’s comment suggests I should resurrect it.
A few years ago I purchased a specialty, lightweight fiberglass fly rod for work on small, narrow streams. It is a pleasure to use if I stay within its functional boundaries. When I try to push it, the rod collapses. I’ve learned not to ask it to do things it wasn’t designed for.
But Chatham’s statement is compelling. If nothing else, it should cause us to question the advertising copy extolling the latest model rod.
Old isn’t necessarily bad. Old isn’t necessarily less functional. In fact, it might even be better.
If you’ve got an old rod in your closet, or if you encounter one at a yard sale, why not give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
The stage was set. Goliath, a giant of a man whose spear alone weighed 600 shekels of iron, was calling out the youngest son of Jesse. David, a mere sheep herder, didn’t stand a chance against Goliath. At least that’s what everyone thought.
“Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand.” 1 Samuel 17:48-50 NASB
A modern-day version of this historical event just played out in New York state. Michaels Stores Inc. has agreed to enter into a $1.8 million settlement for deceptive advertising practices with regards to their custom framing coupons. As a small, locally owned, independent custom frame shop, we’ve had to combat this “coupon” mentality for years. Now the courts have affirmed exactly what we’ve told our clients…that Michaels not only broke the law by advertising a sale for more than 104 consecutive weeks, but they “duped consumers into thinking they were receiving huge discounts, when in fact, they were simply paying the regular store price,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.
For the countless “Davids” of the world, the small independent, honest, hardworking frame shops, this is BIG news. Michaels (Goliath) has wielded their mighty coupon sword for too long. We didn’t stand a chance of combating the coupon mentality with our limited resources until the New York Attorney General decided to intervene on behalf of the consumer. For the record, we’ve notified the Montana Attorney General and asked if they can also get involved on a local level.
So is Goliath really dead? Not hardly. But we think he’s got a pretty nasty headache. Our hope is that this will cause these mega-box stores to reflect on their moral and ethical standing in the communities in which they exist and start flying right like the rest of us. If it doesn’t, it will confirm that management at Michaels is more than willing to continue to take advantage of their customers through deceptive business practices. We’re not holding our breath.
It’s almost like a death in the family. We knew that it would end someday, but we weren’t really ready for it to happen this soon. We have bad news to report, but thank the good Lord, no one has died.
We were informed over the weekend that Chatham Fine Art in Livingston, Montana will be closing its doors forever on August 13, 2011. As you can imagine, the art market has been very soft for a few years and sales for Russell’s original lithographs were not immune. Our hearts go out to Russ, Lea, Maria and all those who poured their lives into Chatham Fine Art for the past 25 years. All of us at Rimrock Art & Frame wish to express our sincere thanks to Chatham Fine Art for the hard work, dedication and resources they made available to us as an exclusive Russell Chatham dealer.
So where do we go from here? It’s almost inconceivable that effective August 14, 2011, Russ’s amazing original lithographs will no longer be available on the primary market. But wait! We still have time. When the phone starts ringing and clients start asking the question “what should I do?”, my answer will be “BUY THEM!”
If you love Russ’s work like we do, there will never be a better opportunity to buy! Original lithographs that were selling for $5,000 last week are now $2,500! $500 lithographs are now $250! And the artist is still alive! Get the picture? (no pun intended)
If you previously purchased a Russell Chatham at full price, my advice is the same….if you love them, buy another one, two or three (perhaps as gifts?) and dollar cost average down!
Ok, this might sound like a sales pitch, but it’s really just friendly advice. If you’re contemplating a Russell Chatham purchase, don’t wait. This offer is being made to the public, so we expect inventory will go fast. Prints that were previously considered “RARE” will sell out quickly. The lower priced prints in the $400-$1000 price range will also go like poop through a goose!
Yes, my answer will be BUY! Buy them because you love them. Buy them for what they are…“original lithographs”, painstakingly created one color at a time. Buy them as gifts. Buy them and hang them all over your house! Buy a stack of them and put them under your bed. And yes, buy them because they are half-off the retail price and will no longer be available. But please don’t wait. After August 13, you’re out of luck!
To view available works at 50% off, click here.
I am pleased to announce that the new mat cutter is awesome. Last October, we upgraded to the latest model with all of the bells and whistles. In the months since, we have been testing its capabilities and making all the little adjustments necessary to cut the perfect mat.
The new machine gives us all sorts of new possibilities for your art. Openings can be cut at a 45°, 52° or 90° bevel. Mats can be enhanced with French lines, text or a wide variety of decorative shapes in several different colors or debossed in three different weights for a subtle look. And you aren’t limited to just rectangle and oval mats either. You can choose from a wide library of shapes, or we can custom design one for you. We can trace around elements in a photo or even incorporate your company logo.
And just in time for Memorial Day, we have a very unique piece.
This is not a print or a painting. The flag was created entirely by cutting shapes out of three colors of mat board and piecing them together. A second sheet of cream mat board was cut in a more normal, though unusually shaped opening and spaced above the flag mat. You really need to see this piece in person to fully appreciate it. It retails for $225, and at that price, we don’t expect it to be here long.
Stay tuned for more unique matting ideas.
I can’t speak for you, but MY college diploma was very expensive. I won’t tell you where I went to school until the end of this article so that the Griz fans will keep reading. Oh wait……. aww never mind!
Like many of you, I worked pretty hard my first two years at school and really hard the last two years. My education and resulting diploma helped me land my first real job doing exactly what they prepared me to do; construction management. Needless to say, I was pretty proud that my hard-earned sheepskin did it’s job and landed me gainful employment. (Actually if it were really sheepskin we wouldn’t need to have this discussion.)
It dawned on me the other day that the only things I left college with in 1984 were a noggin full of information, a diploma and a bit of a beer belly. As much as I’d like to talk about how to achieve a quality beer belly, I need to stay focused and talk about the diploma. Sorry, we’ll do the beer thing later. The takeaway point here is that my diploma was the only tangible proof of where the money went.
Here’s a shocker: according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of a 4-year college education in the United States for the 2007-2008 school year looked like this: (after any financial aid)
- Public 4-year school: $72,000 ($40,000)
- Private 4-year for-profit: $112,000 ($64,000)
- Private 4-year non-profit: $140,000 ($68,000)
Using skills derived from Math 101 (no calculus or trigonometry required), we can use the above figures to quickly figure that a college diploma now costs an arm and a leg! If you do just a bit more math, you can calculate that an 8 1/2 x 11 diploma from a 4-year public university in 2008 cost the graduate approximately $1,198 per square inch. I’m going out on a limb here and saying that your diploma is probably the most expensive document you own, including the fine art on your walls. So, where is your diploma right now?
I know where mine is…at the time of this writing it’s being professionally framed at Rimrock Art & Frame. I’ve had this on my list of things-to-do for several years. Previously, my diploma lived in a two-bit frame from a craft store. When I got it years ago, I was young and adventurous and willing to live on the edge a little. Heck, we used to drive into Mexico for long weekends without a passport! Whoooaaaa! Why would I worry about the condition of a piece of paper?
Now I’m older, bigger and much wiser! I understand the value of preserving and protecting what’s important to me. On a fairly regular basis, we get to frame old documents that have been discovered in an attic or shoe box. Almost without exception, they are creased, torn, faded and most certainly yellowed. In all fairness, conservation and preservation framing practices are relatively new technologies, so we can’t fault our ancestors for the decisions they made about their important documents. We can, however harass you about it.
Did you know that putting a piece of artwork or document in a craft store frame will actually CAUSE DAMAGE? Most of them come with a cardboard backer and clear glass. The cardboard alone will destroy the document or art due to the acid content. Combine this with the ultraviolet damage from light and you’ve sealed the doom of what was framed. Remember I said my diploma was in a craft store frame? We’ll, it now has a very distinct “burn” line around the outside edges where the paper mat laid against the document as well as signs of accelerated yellowing and ultraviolet fading.
I wonder if the craft store will stand behind their product with a $120,000 document in it?
Unfortunately, most paper today contains a variety of additives, impurities and other less stable plant products which cause acid deterioration of paper. Ever wondered why newspaper yellows so quickly? Because they WANT it to degrade quickly; the quality of the paper fiber is so poor the process begins and ends much sooner. Other culprits which also have a deleterious effect on paper are environmental and atmospheric acids, pollutants and light. In layman’s terms, today’s paper is basically made to self destruct. So what can we do about it?
While not yet scientifically perfect, properly performed custom framing can dramatically extend the life of a document or piece of art. Think of it like dental work. You and your dentist do the very best you can with the technology available and you’ll most certainly increase the useful life of your teeth. When new technology comes along, you embrace it and again delay the need for falsies.
By using truly acid-free or alpha-cellulose framing materials, we can significantly slow the destruction of the covalent bonds holding the paper fibers together. Any time you have a cardboard backer in your frame environment, you’ve exponentially increased the rate of degradation of the framed item. I wonder if the craft store will stand behind their product with a $120,000 document in it?
Ok, so let’s assume that Rimrock Art & Frame did their job and lined the frame to stop acid migration from the wood, and balanced the pH of the environment by using alpha-cellulose and/or buffered framing materials. What about glass? Ah, great question; you must have a college degree? Glass too has come a long way in recent years. We can now block up to 99% of ultraviolet (or “ultraviolent” due to the damage it causes) light while reducing reflected glare! How, you ask? Museum Glass® anti-reflection picture framing glass with Conservation Grade UV Protection is the best glazing option available for art, photographs and other important personal keepsakes like diplomas. Along with its nearly invisible finish, it effectively blocks up to 99% of harmful indoor and outdoor UV light rays so framed pieces remain clearer and brighter for longer. By reducing glare 85% and still allowing 97% light transmission, this glass is the finest the industry has to offer and is now very affordable. Museum Glass® is the perfect application for a valuable document or brightly colored artwork. Our sample in the shop has finger prints all over it from clients poking at it because it looks like there’s no glass at all.
One of the major on-line document framers advertise that they only use “museum quality” mats and yet they only offer clear glass. Why in the world would you spend the money to frame your document with quality matting only to invite ultraviolet damage to both the mats and the document?
Everything we’ve talked about to this point also applies to other documents such as high school diplomas. A great gift idea for your grad is to frame their diploma along with the tassel and a small senior picture. We have every school color available in matting and frames and can incorporate their favorite sport with basketball, golf and football textured mats.
So there you have it. Not only do you have a college education in your field, but you’ve been educated about caring for your valuable documents. Obviously, we highly recommend professionally framing your diploma and would love to be your framer of choice. Please email, call or stop by if we can answer questions or help you design the perfect frame for your diploma. I’m framing mine! Let’s do yours too!
Let’s face it, folks. It’s been a long winter and I’m not just talking about having snow and wind around from October to April long, but mentally and emotionally long. Sure snow is nice for a few weeks as you curl up underneath your favorite blanket your grandma knitted as you watch Humphrey Bogart sweep Ingrid Bergman (and yourself) off her feet. But as we round this final corner of winter and realize that spring is undeniably on its way, pictures of paradise suddenly pop into our heads. And all of these pictures have the same basic premise — a beach, lots of bikinis for you guys, and a handsome cabana boy with a plate of fresh fruit for us women. But the predominating factor in this fantasy is the sun — warm, inviting, and delicious.
The sun — what’s better than the sun? It brightens not only the days, but moods as well. And to top it all off…it’s healthy for you! But while the sun is good for us, it’s definitely not good for your art.
The sun is great, but must be taken in moderation. At my annual checkup, my dermatologist never fails to remind me to not be out in the sun as much as I am. Unfortunately, I don’t have the courage to quip back, “Lady, I get about as much sun as those folks who live underground — six feet underground.” And who can forget mothers’ warnings: “Don’t forget to put on plenty of sunscreen! Well, if you get burned, don’t come crying to me!” As annoying as it is to receive the advice (and for those of you who give it) it is for our own health and benefit.
The same lesson can be applied to your art. But art doesn’t heal from a sunburn.
Last summer, I was at a professional baseball game with my family. Soaking up the sun and the wonderful atmosphere in left field, I decided to only sunscreen my face but not my exposed shoulders thinking I would get a light burn, which would turn into a golden, sexy tan. I repeatedly ignored my mother’s reminders of “You’re going to get burned — put the sunscreen on!” After several failed attempts to get me to apply sunscreen, she gave up and I was able to enjoy the game in peace. Unfortunately, my plan backfired royally. After a night of fitful sleep because of the burn, I realized I had enormous blisters on my shoulders. Naturally, I went crying to my mom. She felt genuinely bad for me, but didn’t pass up the opportunity to remind me, “I told you so.”As I couldn’t tolerate to have any material touch the burn, I had to go the mall in a tank-top, therefore exposing my shoulders. My mom tried to console me saying, “No one is going to notice. You look beautiful as always.” Sadly, that was a lie. Standing in line for the bathroom, I clearly saw and heard a woman glance at my shoulders and whisper to a friend “ouch.” (Also, never, ever go into a Burberry store with a sunburn — the condescending looks I got scared me off nearly as much as the prices did.) Thankfully, after several painful weeks of applying Solar-cane every day, the burn went away. Though I have a whole new field of freckles on my shoulders and the outline of my tank-top is still visible, I’m good as new — with a valuable lesson learned as well. (Who knew mothers gave good advice?) The point of the story is that the sun, while great, can do damage — there is something as too much of a good thing.
The same lesson can be applied to your art. But art doesn’t heal from a sunburn. Working here at Rimrock I’ve seen some sun damaged art and let me tell you it ain’t pretty. We like to think we can work miracles here, but the truth is we can’t. Damaged art is damaged art and nothing can change that. In order to prevent art from getting faded and damaged by the sun, we frame every piece of art that comes through with glass which is certified to block 99% of UV rays. And to top it off, there’s several varieties of this glass! Want to be sleek, chic, and modern? Get Museum Glass! There’s a reason it’s called “museum” — they often use it. You won’t see a reflection and most people can’t even tell there’s glass on the piece. For you more traditionally minded, we’ve got Conservation Reflection Control to cut down on glare, and our old friend, Conservation Clear. So next time you bring something in to be framed, ask us about glass and test our knowledge. Or if you don’t have anything new to be framed, bring in your old art (which probably isn’t framed with conservation in mind) and we’ll fix it up for you in a jiffy!
Take a lesson from me (and your mom) — take preventative measures and put some sunscreen on you and your art!
We’re pleased to report that the newly formed Western Masters Art Show and Sale held in Great Falls last week was a huge success in it’s debut. Pat and Carol Hagan along with Steve and Nancy Cawdry boldly took the reins this year after the Ad Club parted ways with the C.M. Russell Museum in 2010.
On behalf of the entire art community, we wish to thank the Hagans, the Cawdrys and all those involved in saving this very important art venue!
Here’s a great article written by Great Falls Tribune writer Kimball Bennion:
The Western Masters Art Show and Sale kicked off its inaugural auction Saturday evening, filling a void left by the departure of the Ad Club auction last year.The Heritage Inn stayed as the traditional venue for the Ad Club auction, although the new organizers of the show established a few new traditions as well.
Co-organizer Steve Cawdrey said he hoped the show would be a more-accessible, less-formal show. Cawdrey told the nearly full auction crowd that he even considered ditching auction catalogues and letting the artists take their work off the walls and show them off to bidders.
“Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed,” Cawdrey said.
The auction didn’t take that route, but there was a casual feel to the sale, as the artists came up on stage to parade their work. People leaned on the hotel’s balcony railing above the main floor to watch the auction. In another first for the Heritage Inn sale, the auction’s admission was free.
A few patrons even got the chance to see their art made before their eyes during the show’s quick finish portion. People were able to watch over the shoulders of 13 artists as they put finishing touches to their paintings and one sculpture.
People milled around and chatted with the artists while they worked. The pieces were the first to be auctioned off after two-and-a-half hours of preparation.
For Western Masters co-organizer Pat Hagan, the event was a great way to get people in the mood for the auction.
“The excitement grows through the event and culminates with the auction,” Hagan said.
Hagan said he and Cawdrey decided to put the show on because they didn’t want the Ad Club’s departure to leave a hole in Western Art Week.
“When the Ad Club left, my heart sank, and I know many of the artists felt the same way,” Hagan said.
The quick draw had personal meaning to Hagan as well, as 50 percent of the proceeds went to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which donates money to Parkinson’s research. Hagan was diagnosed with the disease two years ago.
The biggest seller of the quick finish auction was from Carol Hagan of Billings, who also is married to Pat Hagan. “Bear of Many Colors,” a vibrant-colored portrait of a grizzly bear sold for $7,000. Carol Hagan and many of the other 13 artists decided to donate their full earnings to the Fox foundation. The total from the quick finish sale was $59,000, with $46,000 going to the foundation.
For the rest of the pieces, 100 percent of the earnings went back to the artists of the pieces. All of the pieces were sold.
Hagan admitted that as he and Cawdrey began organizing the show, they often felt overwhelmed.
“We’d say, ‘What are we getting ourselves into?’” he said.
But as the quick finish was getting under way, Hagan seemed busy as ever, but also satisfied.
“We feel very good about the turnout,” Hagan said. “We’re going to work hard to make this the best show in the country.”
Early top sellers from the auction were “Hot Diggity,” a dye on silk by Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey at $6,500, “Pubelo Storm,” a Manzanita wood sculpture by Bob Boomer and Jerolyn Dirks’ “Do Not Disturb,” oil on board for $5,750.
Reach Tribune Staff Writer Kimball Bennion at 791-1462 or email@example.com.