The 44th Collectors Show and Sale at the Arkansas Arts Center is not, alas, for all who would buy art. The prices are more than what most of us can pay. It is, however, a fine place to look at what's available on the market and what fine art from New York galleries costs, and to wonder, who will buy this Gaston Lachaise drawing for $9,000 and leave it to the Arts Center in his or her will?
This year's show is jam-packed into the Strauss Gallery, hung in the manner of the French salon, without much wall showing. (Think of Man Ray's famous photograph of Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas in their art-jammed salon. I'm not sure why I do, but I do.)
If I had all the money in the world, the Lachaise would be mine: It's an elegant, modern line drawing of a nude, the body's volume created from flat space with a few curving strokes.
In the olden days, there were small lithographs, such as book illustrations, things for the hoi polloi to acquire, but today you'll need 12,000 clams to pick up that Thomas Sully figure study; the Pere Santilare Perarnau hyperrealistic still life 21st century-style (the grapes and figs are in a plastic container) is (reasonable, really) $16,000.
You could go for a pair of early 19th century landscapes in gouache by Louis-Albert-Ghislain Bacler D'albe, who, you might have suspected, was a French artist (I can't resist noting the price: $90,000 the pair). Or you could buy something created this year by New York artist Michael Waugh: a 42-by-82 inch ink on mylar drawing of crickets in high grass ("The American Jobs Act, part 2," $23,350). The work was exhibited in the "11th National Drawing Invitational" in September at the Arts Center.
But put aside the price tags for a bit and just enjoy the show. Don't overlook the three-dimensional pieces, particularly William Hunter's "Paisley Flutes," a cocobolo wood bowl with spiraling notches; and Nishihata Tadashi's tando clay vessel, thickly walled, diagonally carved and covered in a thick ash glaze. There's also a lovely John Marin watercolor. And more, of course.
The show and sale runs through Sunday, Dec. 30.