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Discovered artwork of late SUNY Potsdam professor to be sold at auction on Sunday

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POTSDAM — When Eleanor E. Uffer died in a car accident in 2012 at the age of 74, she left behind a legacy of teaching.

“I’ve taught art for so many years — to everyone from 3-year-olds to 103-year-olds,” the New York City native told the Times in 2009.

Ms. Uffer, a retired SUNY Potsdam art professor, also left behind artwork — and more than most people knew about. After Ms. Uffer’s death, about 100 of her paintings were found in the attic of her 11 State St. home. Many of them will be sold at auction on Sunday.

Timothy A. Dillon, who purchased Ms. Uffer’s home, said relatives of Ms. Uffer cleared out her belongings but left the framed paintings in the attic. A relative even pointed out the paintings to him, he said.

“They were all stacked together,” Mr. Dillon said. “I was kind of shocked.”

Most of the pieces are framed and are about 3 feet wide by 4 feet high, Mr. Dillon said.

“The paintings have a lot of potential,” said Kip E. Blanchard, owner of Blanchard’s Auction Services.

Half of the artwork will be included in an estate auction at 10 a.m. Sunday at Blanchard’s Auction Hall, 1891 Morley Potsdam Road, Potsdam. The other half is scheduled to be auctioned April 24 at the auction hall.

“The only reason we didn’t put them all in one sale is that it’s overwhelming,” Mr. Blanchard said. “There’s too many of them.”

Mr. Blanchard said Ms. Uffer painted most of the discovered oil paintings in the 1950s when she was a student at Pratt Institute in New York City and living at 911 Park Ave. Subjects range from abstract figures dancing and children playing to impressionist nudes.

“The midcentury modern art market is a really hot market,” Mr. Blanchard said. “The only downfall is that there is very little information out there about Eleanor Uffer. She never really sold paintings. She did some private shows and whatnot, but there’s no track record.”

Mr. Blanchard said serious collectors prefer purchasing artwork from established artists.

“Much of the market for this type of art is set by last sales,” he said. “But Eleanor’s artwork has never been out there for sale, even though it’s definitely good investment quality.”

But Mr. Blanchard said there is potential for Ms. Uffer’s works to fetch relatively high prices, especially if purchased by people from out of the area.

“It fits more of a metropolitan area,” he said. “I can see them in a loft in New York City or some kind of an apartment there more so than the north country. Even though they were discovered here, they have more of a New York City feel to them.”

Mr. Blanchard said his company sold approximately 2,000 paintings last year, ranging from $5 to $28,000.

“There’s a wide range of styles that we sell, but I see a lot of potential in her works,” he said.

Mr. Dillon, who owns Chilly Delight frozen yogurt shop at 57 Market St., said he purchased the home a little more than a year ago with the idea of his son living there. But that plan changed and the home is now up for sale again.In addition to being an art professor, Ms. Uffer taught at Potsdam Normal School, loved traveling, taught English to foreign students and volunteered at St. Mary’s School.

the details
WHAT: Auction that includes discovered paintings by Eleanor E. Uffer. The event is advertised as an “art, Adirondack and estate” auction with more than 500 lots.
WHEN/WHERE; 10 a.m. Sunday at Blanchard’s Auction Hall, 1891 Morley Potsdam Road, Potsdam
Previews are from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 to 10 a.m. Sunday
OF NOTE: There are no reserve prices. More Uffer paintings will be sold at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the auction hall. Info: www.blanchardsauctionservice.com
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