Comstock's magazine 0519 - May 2019 - Page 43

find widespread attention — and the buyers willing to pay high prices for it — until long after his death. “Some artists work their tails off and go their whole careers without get- ting ‘discovered’ and others are successful right out of the gate because they meet the right person.” Art that’s created with nontraditional materials by art- ists outside the mainstream is often difficult to appraise. Brian Witherell, COO and consignment director of With- erell’s Auction House in Sacramento and an expert on PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow,” explains that most of the items he handles are accompanied by letters of authenticity and grades applied by independent, third-party companies to assign a value that will be recognized and supported by the market. “Art is harder to value, whether the piece is by an aca- demically trained artist or outsider artist,” Witherell says. “Because the works vary, valuation is challenging and we often have to call in art experts to weigh in on specific genres. ... Art is definitely the most interesting way to col- lect, but not the safest in terms of investment.” For Neath, pricing outsider art has more to do with the materials used than what the market will bear. She says when artists don’t use archival materials — though she points out SCN uses high-quality materials and is provid- ed frames by her shop — it can negatively affect the price because the materials won’t stand the test of time. But, ultimately, Neath says from a gallerist’s point of view the valuation of outsider art has very little to do even with ma- terials and much more to do with how people feel standing face to face with the artwork, whether at the Short Center or in the pages of a Sotheby’s catalogue. “Outsider art is about the experience the artist put into it as they created it,” Neath says. “It’s not about what you see on the wall. It has intrinsic value — it’s the artist’s ex- pression of themselves, of their need to make art. And you either like it or you don’t.” n Jessica Laskey is a freelance writer and professional actress based in Sacramento. She is the founding copublisher of In- domita Press, an independent local publishing company she runs with her husband. Find out more at We plan and design your high-performance electrical environment M. NEILS ENGINEERING, INC. Electrical Engineers I Lighting Designers I 916-923-4400 May 2019 | 43