Calling all baby boomers. There’s an art auction coming up you just may want to attend….dear friends from your elementary school days will be there.
Nancy Childress will be selling her father’s artwork at a live online auction on April 30. Her dad was none other than Robert Childress, the man who brought Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, Puff and the rest of the gang to life in the Dick and Jane readers. Also being auctioned are portraits, and offerings from his collection of pastel paintings of college buildings around the country.
“As an artist, there were many illustrators during the time my father was working,” said Nancy Childress. What’s different about my father’s illustrations is that most could either do landscape or people, and he had the uncanny ability to do both equally well.” Nancy said her father, who died in 1983, never took an art class, learning to paint with a set given to him as a gift from an aunt and uncle before he was 10. Childress’ realism will remind the viewer immediately of Norman Rockwell’s illustrations and that’s not a complete coincidence: The two were friends.
A neighbor boy was the inspiration for Dick, daughter Nancy was Sally, her sister Susan became Jane and their mother was also one of Robert Childress’ inspirations. “We loved it,” Nancy said. “My sister and I loved getting into costumes. And he would always include us. He would ask us, ‘What do you think of this? Is it too green? Is it too blue?’ But the opinion that mattered was my mother’s.”
Born in South Carolina, Childress was living in Ithaca, N.Y., when he was commissioned to paint a portrait of H.E. Babcock, a former chairman of the board for Cornell University. Through his connection with Babcock, he met Duncan Hines, the home food entrepreneur whose cakes and other products still stock grocery shelves. Childress painted the portrait of Hines that would adorn his product packaging and Childress launched a career in advertising. Childress painted ads for Coca-Cola, Mobil, Wonder Bread and the Campbell Soup Co., among others. Some of the ads will be included in the auction.
Auctioneer Ronald Pelletier said estimates for the roughly 50 lots of Childress art run from $100 to $2,000.

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