Former renter in Greenwich Village, waiting out the turnaround in Manhattan's midtown. Working on a blog-to-book project about my NYC/NJ ancestors. Everyday I'm amazed by what I find with Ancestry and in old newspapers.

February 27, 2020

Lost artwork: a search to recover my mother's missing paintings

50th Street snow scene, 1986
by Barbara Boyd Carter
Here is a watercolor of a 50th Street snow scene my mother painted from her apartment window on Beekman Place. It's part of her series "Midtown Merchants" which is featured in this week's East Midtown Partnership newsletter. Here is a link to the Midtown Merchant Series on Flickr; a movie appears below.

While this blog began with a search for an apartment in Greenwich Village after I made the mistake of moving away, the need to fix this has evolved into other subplots about what's missing in my life. An even deeper desire to find a permanent home for my mother's artwork has led to a search for missing paintings that were lost in moves. In the mid 80s my father sold their house in Lloyd Harbor, Long Island during real estate boom to buy a company in Palmer, Massachusetts, because he was tired of working for other people. Ten years later they moved again to retire in NYC. My parents thought the city's art museums and restaurants would make New York the perfect place to retire, but a noisy apartment drove them out and they moved back to the tranquility of Lloyd Harbor, Long Island, where my dad could indulge his hobby of caring for a lawn and my mother could paint and garden.

Pictures change in 15-second intervals
"Midtown Merchants" series, 1986-87

My mother's lost artwork has been on my mind. Movers will tell you that the truck is empty and drive off, and when you realize there are pieces missing, it can be too late. The reasonable thing is to brush myself and move on, but I'm holding out hope that these paintings can be recovered. 

My mother said that all the paintings in the series were wrapped in the large flat package she kept stored under her bed when she was living at Cedar Crest Village in Pompton Plains, NJ. I wanted to include one or two in the art shows they were having but she refused to allow it, saying the pictures would cost too much to frame, that I wasted money, but I could do whatever I wanted with them after she was dead. An overreaction to criticism, really. So the package went unopened until I was at an art studio to have them scanned and discovered it was missing. This is very upsetting. My mother never mentioned that it had been sold or given away. Could a decorator who sold lithos of her pen & inks at the time have sold it to a company? Or was it lost in a move?

Here is a photo of a painting of diners at The Golden Dolphin, a restaurant on Route 25A in Huntington, Long Island, the town's Main Street. She lived in Huntington on two occasions, between 1977-87, and again from 1996-2008.

Dolphin Diners, Huntington, Long Island, 1983
by Barbara Boyd Carter

I remember my mother saying that this painting was lost. In between moves from NYC to Brimfield, Massachusetts and back to NYC, all my parents' belongings were put in storage. It's a painting with merit, and I would be surprised if someone threw it out.

I haven't called storage facilities in Massachusetts or NYC, or the apartment building in NYC where they had a storage bin, so those are options. Maybe her pictures will turn up in an antiques store.

Artist Barbara Boyd Carter graduated from Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon, in 1954 with a BFA in Pictorial Design from the College of Art. She studied with Andy Warhol's teachers.

Contact: Debbie Carter, VillagerExpat@aol.com, (212) 925-3721

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