By Susan Nolan
For the past 30 years, Debbie Wood has been soliciting donations for the Chesapeake Children’s Museum in Annapolis. As the organization’s founder and director, she is always looking for supplies she and her team can use in the many hands-on educational programs they coordinate throughout the year.
When Nordstrom, a Seattle-based department store chain, announced the closing of its Westfield Annapolis Mall location in 2020, Wood heard they had items to give away. “I wanted tables and ribbons and that sort of thing,” she says.
What she got was so much more.
CEO Erik B. Nordstrom gave her the original Larry Yung painting commissioned especially for the Annapolis location. Yung is a Chinese-American artist with a worldwide following. His work can be found in the Alternative Museum in New York City, The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Berkeley Art Center, and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, as well as private collections, including Bill Gates’ Microsoft Collection.
“I knew I couldn’t hang it in the museum, so I asked if I could sell it, and they said yes,” recalls Wood.
Wood reached out to Ruby Singleton Blakeney, owner of D’Art Gallery, for help. Blakeney has been housing the painting and is now coordinating its sale via auction. While the painting has not been appraised, Blakeney, a professional art buyer and consultant calls it “an impressive piece that has all the qualities that make it a good investment.”
Proceeds from the sale of the painting will go towards replacing the Chesapeake Children’s Museum parking lot. “We have a $40,000 grant from the state, but we need matching funds,” says Wood. The new parking lot will be eco-friendly and pedestrian friendly and construction could begin as early as September.
Blakeney describes the untitled 66” X 90” work as mixed media. The value of the painting has been placed at more than $25,000 based on what Nordstrom paid for the 1994 commission. Bidding opened on July 5 and will continue through July 28 at 6:30 p.m. The opening bid is $4,000 with $500 minimum bids. The easiest way to place a bid is to text “BID” along with your name to 443-336-1043.
On July 27, the painting will be on display at Westin Annapolis Hotel before bidding closes. Potential bidders who wish to see the painting before then are asked to Blakeney directly.
Blakeney urges those not interested in buying the painting to still consider a donation to Chesapeake Children’s Museum. “I have so much respect for what Dr. Wood is doing. Her creative, hands-on approach is exactly what our children need.”