December 10, 2007

An "Oops" in the Mark Coplan Collection

Some time after Mark Coplan passed away, I was contacted by the woman charged with cataloguing his massive collection so I could help identify and value my work in this collection. It wasn't easy to idenity all the work by someone describing it to me over the telephone but I did my best. Fortunately the figurative work was self explanatory: "The Woman With the Cats," "The Woman with the Puppets," A back view of a nude woman staring out an apartment window I recognized as "Remembering New York." Then came the problematic identifications. Mark had purchased a mosaic mask. I had made about a hundred masks and couldn't figure out which one it was. Then there was a non-objective work. I asked for a description. " is abstract," she told me. That wasn't giving me very much to go on so I asked for some details. "Well, it has blue and green in it," She said for further clarification. That didn't exactly help ring a bell either. "Could you perhaps tell me about what size it is?" I asked. "About eight inches by twelve inches." An image of a long lost painting popped into my head. A nice abstract composition in blue and green. I had always wondered what happened to that piece and was happy that it had somehow found its way into Mark Coplan's collection. So I told the woman on the phone that it must be "Composition in BLue and Green," and the mystery was settled.

Shortly before the current exhibition of a portion of the Mark Coplan collection opened at the South Carolina State Museum, My husband and I were invited for a preview of the work. To my surprise(and a tincture of horror) the painting slated for the exhibition was not the sophisticated, painterly work that I had longed for and was eager to regain. No, it was a silly little acrylic painting I made in college before I started serious art training. "Microbial Hallucination," as I dubbed the piece, was a strange overlay of cartoon and science from the imagination of a young student enrolled in a pre-med program but with leanings towards art. I cudgelled my brain for some explanation as to how Mark had procured "Microbial Hallucination" for his collection. Then I recalled a fleeting memory of Mark rummaging this thing from out of a box at my yard sale shortly after I had just arrived in South Carolina back in 1991. I had either given it to him or sold it for a very nominal fee. It is now one of those curiousities of the exhibition like Mike Williams' discarded palette - also a salvaged item I am guessing.
I never did find out what happened to "Composition in Blue and Green."

No comments: