Discovering New Artists, Park West Galleries Does It Again! Autumn DeForest 
TAKING A CRUISE
WE WERE ENJOYING THE LIBATIONS at the cocktail party hosted by Park West Galleries aboard the Norwegian Epic, on January 9, 2013; talking amongst ourselves while looking at a dozen or so covered paintings of all sorts of sizes. This was to be a surprise appearance of one of the artists Park West was presenting. The lead auctioneer got our attention, “our” being a group of about 35 couples they invited to cruise with them, gratis, for a week hoping we would buy enough art to cover their costs of bringing us while making a profit as well; he began to speak of this new sensation they had recently signed to their gallery.
ART PRESENTED BY PARK WEST FOR AUCTION
HE MADE COMPARISONS with such artists as Albrecht Dürer, Picasso, and Victoria Montesinos when speaking of the potential of this new artist. The master of ceremonies was full of hyperbole saying America has its next own artist that will rank up there with likes of the American icons Norman Rockwell and Grant Forest, who painted the American Gothic, you know, Ma and Pa Kettle standing next to each other in front of a farmhouse with Pa holding a pitchfork, both looking very sad.
On and on he went, trying to build up the suspense and audience anticipation; uncovering each painting and expounding on its virtues. He even uncovered one called the American Graphic, an impressionist’s view of the classic I just described. The auctioneer, Jordon, was right! The art did deserve very high compliments, as you can hopefully see from my inadequate photos. They were definitely on the caliber of the artists already presented the previous two days, Simon Bull and Tim Yankee, and in some cases better. The audience, including yours truly, was impressed!
IT WAS NOW TIME TO PRESENT his surprise, so with the proper fanfare, Jordon introduced the artist he was gushing about; and out walked this beautiful young girl; tall, thin and graceful. I was perplexed a bit initially, because I was waiting for somebody to walk out but didn’t see anybody … until I shifted my gaze down to focus on this very pretty, confident looking, girl of eleven years walking towards me! The audience audibly gasped during their applause.
Her name is Autumn de Forest and at eleven is already an accomplished artist having appeared on the Today Show, the Discovery Channel, and several other similar shows; Disney was about to do a piece on her. By the way, in her American Classic, instead of holding a pitchfork, Pa Kettle was holding a Crayon (Crayola commissioned Autumn to paint several works for them). She has had several gallery exhibitions and auctions across the country in the six years she has been painting; each painting has her age above her signature. But, with Park West’s sponsorship, her exposure will explode as her work is copied and then spread though 66 cruise ships plus the Land and VIP auctions such as I was attending.
MORE WORKS FROM AUTUMN
AUTUMN DE FOREST
AUTUMN LIVES IN NW LAS VEGAS in one of the large acreage housing developments Las Vegas was famous for … before the economic crash. She currently does not have a boyfriend, my wife checked as our ten year old grandson is currently unattached as well, and is home schooled by parents who are artists in their own right. Her father, Douglas de Forest, is a very accomplished composer, producing works you have probably heard on many TV shows. Her mother, Katherine, is an actress, among other things, appearing on such shows as Days of our Lives. If fact, Autumn is the fourth generation of exceptional talent in her family tree.
Autumn can also speak; I have rarely heard such an articulate youngster. Granted, she has had quite a bit of practice the last few years, but her confidence, composure, projection, and style is well beyond her age. So is her knowledge of art, art history, and art personalities. When commenting on one of her pictures she got stuck on the artist who inspired her, it was an impressionist-style work. Trying to be helpful, Jordon suggested Renoir. Autumn quickly said “no, I know who that is”, but it was enough to give her a clue; it was Renoir’s son of whom she was thinking. When describing another piece, she began by saying, “I did this one when I was in my 5s.”; that, of course, brought a round of laughter from our group of amazed listeners.
As Autumn let us in on her talent, we were amazed at her diversity. Some artists are impressionist painters, while others create abstract works. Autumn, on the other hand, has no style as a painter; instead she paints using all styles, whatever strikes her fancy at the moment. She expresses her feelings, hopes, and dreams in the style of a particular artist that inspires her at that moment. She had paintings that looked like something Picasso might have done or, as I have mentioned, the American artist Grant Wood; maybe this time it is cubism or pop art á la Peter Max, the list goes on; her talent is simply incredible.at evening ended too soon for it was dinner time. At dinner, where I had the pleasure of sitting with her and her parents, the late hours started taking its toll and you started seeing signs of the eleven year-old girl she really is. After answering several more questions, the conversation turned more toward her parents, who were closer to the other dinner guests and the focus left Autumn; something I think she appreciated. When left alone, she could let down her professional mask and relaxed into her young girl mode; turning and fidgeting in her seat, getting bored, etc. But, when someone did break into her thoughts, Autumn put her mask back on, brightened up, and became a near adult again.
UPDATE - I AM HAPPY TO REPORT that on another cruise, this time on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, coming up in late August 2014, my wife and I will have a chance to meet Autumn DeForest for a second time and view her latest work.
SOME AUTUMN DE FOREST WORKS WHICH SOLD AT AUCTION
THE NEXT DAY WAS THE AUCTION; Park West put on a special auction to sell her works.As it turned out, they had not planned on this event for the decision to bring Autumn to us occurred only nine days before the cruise. Once again, she put on a show for us, mingling with the buyers, taking pictures, looking cute. But, when it was time for the auction itself, her father ushered Autumn out for he thinks it is too early for her to see that side of the art business as people bid, or didn’t bid on her work. She was used to getting much more for her paintings, upwards of $25,000 for some of them at other auctions.Park West’s business plan, however, is to make art of new artists available to the public at affordable prices. The idea is this method will maximize their exposure in the shortest amount of time.Jordan commented that she would have plenty of time, when she gets to her 20s, to start raking in the big bucks after demand has hopefully sky rocketed.
There somewhere around 30 works if Autumn’s art, maybe more, scattered around the auction room, one of the main dining rooms on-board the Epic. The bidding was interesting to watch.It works this way. While you look at art, various sales people wander around ready to give you the price; if you like it, you can ask them to put the piece up for auction where you get the opening bid at the price you were quoted. At that point, others may up the bid although in the majority of cases, no one did.For about 10 pieces, there was spirited bidding; fortunately not for the piece I wanted, the Golden Skull, a bull skull, common in the Nevada desert, on gold and silver leaf, sort of opposite of what you will see in the photo I took. When the dust settled, all but about six pieces had sold; the prices varied from about $1,500 to almost $9,000 (one of the ones that remained went for nearly $10,000 in the last of four auctions Park West held on our seven day cruise.
GOLDEN SKULL by AUTUMN de FOREST
You will need to use your imagination a little bit due to my poor photographic talent. The leaf and paint around the skull is actually gold in color, sort of like that in the lower left corner, and not silver which the rest of it looks to me.
OUR LAST MEETING the child prodigy was at a cocktail party on Thursday. This is where we were able to take pictures of Autumn with the works that were purchased. Once again, she worked the room like a pro, just exuding confidence and poise, unbelievable. My wife and I had our picture taken with her and another artist, known simply as Duaiv, a French transplant who recently received his American citizenship (he gave up his career as a solo cellist of quite a bit of fame, Yo-Yo Ma sponsored him to America, to become a painter; his wife gave up her career as a professional ballerina). With that, our experience with this unique and gifted American girl ended.
It doesn't end there. It doesn’t end there.Autumn is a philanthropist, doing charitable work is ingrained in her soul, and a lecturer at such venues as college campuses, corporate events, and was featured at the National Art Education Association’s annual convention in New York City. I hope you enjoy my attempts to capture her artistry; unfortunately, my photographic talent is as poor as Autumn’s talent is great.
© 2013 Scott Belford