A reader came in with an unusual request earlier this week: she had a piece of art work she bought at an auction in Greenfield nearly a decade ago and wanted to see if we could identify the artist.
Arts and Culture Editor Gina Beavers, herself a local artist, looked at it with me and neither one of us could come up with an answer. It was a mystery.
The black and white piece of line art displayed a person of indistinct gender wearing an elaborate hat and a blank expression. The person had their hands together with fingers interlocked.
The reader, whose name is Shirley Holmes (which I couldn’t help but notice kind of sounds like Sherlock Holmes), said she believed there might be information on the back of the artwork, but was hesitant to rip it from its frame. The major clues were that it was dated 1990, and there were the numbers 5/60.
I’d like to say that we uncovered the artist through expert sleuthing, but what actually happened was I snapped a photo on my phone and we put the picture out on Facebook, where it was shared a number of times. The next day, Shirley Holmes called saying she had exciting news.
She had shared the post on her tag sale Facebook sites, and a person came up with the name Michael Kuch, an artist who splits his time between Northampton and New York with ties to the local R. Michelson Galleries, who is now the prime suspect.
I tried reaching out to Kuch, but haven’t heard back yet. Shirley Holmes said she learned that the number on the side meant that 60 copies were made of the picture and hers is number 5.
I spent a few minutes perusing Kuch’s work, and it’s pretty good! He has a series called “Lemons” where he cuts out Trump’s face and puts it on a lemon and surrounds it with other images in a collage form.
If you’re out there, Michael Kuch, let us know if this is you. For anyone else, let us know if you have a mystery for us. Apparently we’re open for business!
UPDATE: Kuch, through his Facebook account “Michael Kuch’s Hat,” confirmed that the painting was his work.
“It’s an etching called Captain of the Cabbage Guard that I did right after graduating Hampshire College,” he wrote.
Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at email@example.com.