Niagara Gazette

Communities

July 14, 2014

Mystery art found in Carnegie Center basement

CARNEGIE ART CENTER: Series of portraits discovered in facility's basement.

Niagara Gazette — Sue Jenson went down into the basement of the Carnegie Art Center planning to clean up a bit in preparation for upcoming renovations, but instead of a bunch of junk, she discovered dozens of pastel and charcoal portraits.

One of the things that makes some of the portraits interesting was the fact that the artist, who signed his or her work as “D. Watt” or what appears to be “Doris Watt” was unknown to both Jenson and Carnegie Executive Director Mary Simpson. 

“I’m envious of the talent,” Jenson said of the portraits, which depict a variety of different types of people. “Doing faces is not easy. Based on the level of skill, I wonder if she was an instructor here.”

The earliest painting dates back to 1959 and others were dated in the 1980s. At this time, the staff at the Carnegie are looking for leads to follow that might help them learn where the artist lives, how to contact her or, in the event that she has passed away, if her family might like the portraits.

“We’ll contact the Buffalo Society of Artists, we’ll try the Burchfield Penney, if we can return (the drawings) we will,” Simpson said, adding that if anyone knows anything about the artist, she encourages them to call the art center at 694-4400 and leave a message, or email carnegieartcenter@outlook.com. 

Works by other artists were also found in the basement, including pieces by Virginia Sentz, who worked as a City of Tonawanda art teacher for more than 30 years and passed away in 1991. The Sentz family came to the Carnegie Art Center to pick up her drawings Friday morning. 

“We have a lot of her work in our possession,” said Virginia Chatelle of Amherst, who was named for her aunt. She identified two portraits of her done in her childhood. “When I first walked in, it was like, there I am. We haven’t seen these pictures since 1992.”

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