Artworks by prominent African-American artists will headline Gray's October 10th auction in Cleveland

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  • October 02, 2018

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Oil on canvas painting by Michelangelo Lovelace, Sr. (Am., b. 1960), titled Stand Up and Be Counted, 48 inches by 45 inches, signed and dated “10/2008” lower right, signed verso (est. $3,000-$5,000).
Gray's Auctioneers

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A collection of fine art by prominent and important African-American artists will be a featured part of Gray’s Auctioneers’ upcoming Fine Art, Furniture, Jewelry & Decorative Art Auction planned for Wednesday, October 10th, online and in the firm’s gallery at 10717 Detroit Avenue in Cleveland, starting at 11 am Eastern time. Asian artworks and decorative pieces will also be offered.


For those unable to attend in person, online bidding will be available through, and at and Telephone and absentee bids will also be accepted. Gray’s will be open for in-person previews October 4th-10th, Monday-Friday, from 10-5; and Saturday, Oct. 6, from 12 noon-4pm. The fully illustrated color catalog is online now, at


“One unfortunate legacy of our country’s struggles with its historic racism has been the neglect of black artists by critics and collectors until recent times,” said Serena Harragin, CEO of Gray’s Auctioneers.


Lot 1 in the auction is Michelangelo Lovelace, Sr.’s painting Stand and be Counted.  Born in 1960 in Cleveland’s brutal inner city, Lovelace was enamored with drawing from a young age and was able to escape the cycle of poverty through his art, which depicts the harsh circumstances of inner-city life in a unique folk-art inspired style that lends whimsy and innocence to his work’s often harsh subject matter. 


Stand and Be Counted is a large acrylic on canvas depicting in intricate detail a crowd of hundreds led by then-candidate Barack Obama. It’s a delightful yet sobering reminder in our current political era, of the optimism and excitement that accompanied the election of the first African-American president.

Untitled 2 by Robbie Best (Am., 20th century), mixed media artwork measuring 9 7/8 inches square in the frame, artist signed on verso (est. $80-$120).
Gray's Auctioneers

Lovelace has gone on to earn many successes, including numerous exhibitions, awards and fellowships.


Up next are several works by the renowned artist and scholar David Clyde Driskell (b. 1931), professor emeritus at the University of Maryland and perhaps one of the people most responsible for bringing attention to African-American artwork in the late 20th century. The son of a Baptist minister and the grandson of a slave, Driskell’s work showed a sense of family, community and roots from an early age. 


Four of Driskell’s works are up for auction, including Lot 3 Mythic Door; Lot 4 Magic Temple; Lot 5 Sweet Treat; and Lot 6 Untitled. He has published several books and essays and made a documentary film for the BBC in 1990 called Hidden Heritage: The Roots of Black American Painting.  In 2000, Driskell was honored by Pres. Bill Clinton as one of 12 recipients of the National Humanities Medal. 


Evangeline (EJ) Montgomery (b. 1933) is another seminal figure in the development of African-American art. Born in New York City, she initially came to prominence as a metalworker, known for her worked ancestral boxes she said were “meant to hold something precious.” After being afflicted with Parkinson’s disease late in her career, Montgomery gradually turned her attention to printmaking.


The nine pieces by Montgomery up for auction at Gray’s, all from this later period, include Lot 12 Caribbean Dream; Lot 13 Highland Flowers; Lot 14 Highland Pinecones; Lot 15 Celebration II; Lot 16 Soul Flowers; Lot 17 Butterflies 2; Lot 18 Celestial Moments; Lot 19 Serenity I; and a set of three monoprint etchings that comprise Lot 20, to include Leaf 2009, Wall Design 2009 and Woman 1968.

Ink, oil and pastel on paper by Shirley Woodson Reid (Am., 20th century), from the artist’s Earth Angel Series, artist signed, in the frame 18 inches by 15 ¼ inches (est. $400-$600).
Gray's Auctioneers


Shirley Woodson Reid (b. 1936) is still another influential artist, educator and scholar, based in Detroit. Reid’s paintings of African American life are a part of 22 collections housed by the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Studio Museum of Harlem, the Museum of the National Center for Afro American Artists (Boston), Detroit Edison, the Toledo Art Commission, Florida A&M University and Seagram’s Corp.


A series of four of Reid’s paintings entitled the Earth Angels Series is available for auction in Lot 7. With a deft use of contrast and texture, the series consists of four blindfolded portraits of various figures, each otherworldly, and resolute and yet suggesting vulnerability. Since the ‘70s, Reid has been one of Detroit’s most prominent art historians, serving on the boards of numerous arts associations.


Also up for bid is a series of three vibrant abstract works by Detroit artist Robbie Best (Lot 9 Untitled 2, Lot 10 Untitled 3, and Lot 11 Untitled 6); and a splendid watercolor portrait in Lot 8 titled Janis with Flowers by Illinois-based artist Mary Reed Daniel (b. 1946).  In addition to these remarkable pieces by noted African-American artists, the auction will also contain nearly 200 additional pieces of fine art.


These will include auction include Lot 22, a bold and surreal Self-Portrait by Cleveland painter Scott Miller (1955-2008); Lot 21, a 1961 pencil sketch Woman Baby Boots by Inuit artist Sharni Pootougook (1922-2003); and Lot 178, an exquisite bronze Standing Female Nude by the German sculptor Marg Moll (1884-1977). Also sold will be contemporary fine art prints from the K-Mart corporate collection.


The auction also includes 76 lots of Asian artworks and decorative pieces, including a lovely Chinese carved black opal snuff bottle in Lot 248 that catches the light with a dazzling turquoise gradient; and Lot 249, a Chinese Export silver figure of Shouxing, god of human longevity and one of the Sanxing or Three Stars of Chinese folklore along with Fuxing, the god of prosperity, and Luxing, the god of status. 


The extensive fine jewelry category includes Lot 210, a platinum, diamond, and emerald ring set with one round brilliant cut, fancy yellow diamond weighing approx. 5.18cts, with a VVS2 clarity and natural fancy yellow even color, and set with ten full-cut diamonds weighing 1.20ctw, with a VS clarity and G-H color; two emerald cut diamonds weighing approx. 0.80ctw, with a SI-1 clarity and H-I color; and two emerald cut natural green emeralds weighing approx. 1.00ctw with a fine color and clarity.


Lot 211 is a 14 kt. yellow gold, platinum, and diamond ring set with one brilliant round cut diamond weighing approx. 1.36cts, with a SI-2 clarity and D-E color, and also set with ten princess cut natural diamond melee, total approx. weight 0.65ct, all SI clarity and near colorless; Lot 202: a 14kt. white gold and diamond drop pendant necklace; and Lot 204: a 14kt. white gold, diamond and ruby bracelet. 


All of the above described jewelry items include GIA reports.  In addition to these stunning pieces, there is a variety of beautiful necklaces, earrings, rings, pendants, pins, and brooches up for auction.


Other auction highlights include Lot 331: a set of four German rococo style .800 silver and gilt pepper shakers and salt cellars, circa 1900; Lot 398: a deep blue Mashad wool rug; Lot 465:  a mother of pearl Yamaha Apx-20 electro-acoustic guitar; Lot 466: a miscellaneous collection of Country Music Stars Fan Club autographs and photographs; and Lot 467: a Gibson Mastertone RB-250 five-string banjo.


Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To inquire about selling a single piece, an estate or a collection, you may call them at (216) 226-3300; or, you can send an e-mail to their appraisals department at


To learn more about Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers and the live and internet auction planned for Wednesday, October 10th, at 11 am, visit Updates are posted often.


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Serena Harragin
Gray's Auctioneers
(216) 226-3300

Gray's Auctioneers, LLC
10717 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio
(216) 226-3300
About Gray's Auctioneers, LLC

Gray’s Auctioneers are northern Ohio’s leading licensed auctioneers and appraisers of fine art, antiques, decorative arts, rare books, fine jewelry and antique rugs. The boutique auction house has over two decades of experience in the art business. Experts at Gray’s offer traditional real estate services and specialists there have worked with museums, educational institutions, corporations and private collectors to achieve the full value of collections at auction. Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To inquire about selling a single piece, an estate or a collection, you may call them at (216) 226-3300; or, you can e-mail their appraisals department at To learn more about Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers, visit Updates are posted often.

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