More than 80 works of mid-century modern abstract art created by Harold “Jerry” Walter, a well-known syndicated cartoonist from the mid-1940s through the 1960s, will be auctioned off Saturday at the Washington County Fairgrounds on Route 29.
If you go ...
What: Auction of Harold “Jerry” Walter paintings
Preview: 1 to 5 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Saturday
Auction: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Washington County Fairgrounds, Easton
“He was a very successful cartoonist,” said Michael Smith, owner of Cherry Tree Auctions. “He was syndicated in newspapers across the country.”
Walter, who died at 91 in 2007, spent the final years of his life in Queensbury, Warren County. His estate has already donated $2 million to various charities in the Glens Falls-Queensbury area.
The proceeds from Saturday’s art auction will go into the Walter trust and also be donated to local charities.
The colorful artwork has nothing to do with Walter’s cartoon characters. During his lifetime his comic strips included “Susie Q. Smith,” “Jellybean Jones” and “The Lively Ones.”
Smith said Walter started creating his abstract paintings after World War II through the mid-1950s.
“We’ve had a fair amount of interest [in Walter’s paintings],” he said. However, he added, the works are of unknown value because very few of them have been sold since the mid-1950s.
He said Walter had some one-man shows in New York City in the 1950s and sold one of his works to Frank Crownshield, who was one of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.
“This may be really good abstract art,” Smith said, though adding that he doesn’t know enough about abstract art to be a judge of the paintings.
“Jazz, which was the first native expression of so-called modernism, was a strong influence in helping me feel and understand abstract art,” Walter said in a written description of his art.
“The improvising in jazz and abstract art — especially abstract expressionism — adds a special kinship, depth and joy to life,” Walter wrote in the description that Smith said came with the paintings.
Walter graduated from Colgate University in 1937. He was an advertising copywriter and later a cartoonist. He was a navigator in the Ferry Command which later became the Army Transport Command during World War II. He lived in Woodstock until he married his second wife and moved to Queensbury.
Smith, who primarily deals in antiques, said the market for antiques has been very sluggish in recent years except in the mid-century modern period. He said Walter’s abstract, colorful artwork fits perfectly into this time period.