Laguna's own "Antiques Road Show" rolled into town last week, and I wanted to get in on the action. Bonhams and Butterfields held its second art appraisal clinic at Laguna Art Museum, and for $5, professional appraisers mulled over everything from ceramics and statuary to oils.
I was dying to know more about a rather unusual ceramic vase that my partner, Sharon, had inherited from her grandmother. It's not pretty; in fact, it's pretty ugly. The 8-inch-tall black vase has horror-type masks, scowling faces and strange cigar-type figures randomly floating on it.
But I knew it was an "antique." It had stood on her grandmother's knick-knack table in her Santa Monica apartment since the mid-1950s. The fact that it was stamped "Made in Japan" did not dissuade me from thinking this might be a rare gem. I became more convinced that it could be valuable after a trip to the Getty Villa, where I saw Roman theatrical masks on black pots that were quite similar. Surely some artistry had gone into the making of this vase. I was convinced.