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Flea market find was 'just a hoot'
Rare sketches donated to college
Flea Mkt Pictures 4 es
Late Missouri-born artist Charles Morgenthaler was known for realistic portrayals of Midwestern life. The sketches that turned up at a Cumming flea market reflect a Biblical theme, an artistic side experts say was rarely seen of Morganthaler. - photo by Emily Saunders

While browsing a flea market in Cumming several years ago, Brendan Mazur spotted several pencil sketches that caught his eye.

"I knew there was something about them," said Mazur, who lives in Alpharetta. "They were very good."

Mazur paid $8 for the drawings and left the flea market with plans to frame and hand them out to family members as presents.

When he took them to a framing shop later that day, he noticed a signature on each. Turned out, it belonged to a late Missouri-born artist, Charles Morgenthaler, known for realistic portrayals of Midwestern life.

After his discovery, Mazur contacted the University of Missouri Museum of Art, which had several pieces by the artist on display. Representatives of the museum were interested in the sketches.

But it wasn't until last week that Mazur got to visit the museum in Columbia, Mo., where he met a staff member he'd been in touch with since finding the sketches.

After speaking with associate curator Mary Pixley, he decided to donate two of the Morganthaler pieces to the museum. He's planning to ship the sketches this weekend.

Pixley was excited at the prospect of having these new additions to the museum. She said the sketches reflect a Biblical theme, an artistic side rarely seen of Morganthaler.

"This gift from Brendan will be a marvelous addition to the works we have here, in that it represents as aspect of the artist we don't have," Pixley said.

Mazur said the sketches, three of which he gave to his family, were sequential and all came out of the same notebook. The works date back to the first half of the 20th century.

The find has left Mazur with a certain philosophy regarding used items for sale: "You never leave a stone unturned."

The flea market, which was in a shopping center on Hwy. 9, is no longer there. Still, Mazur continues to keep his eyes open for hidden treasures.

The experience has prompted him to "spend a little more time when I pass by [used items]. I'll dwell a little longer, looking at everything."

"To find this of all places in Cumming, Georgia," Mazur said. "It's just a hoot."

He added that finding the art was only half the fun.

"It's been a pleasure to donate these," he said. "I've met a lot of great people with the museum and historical societies there ... any time you can find works like this, something that has historical significance, and reunite the works with the people who appreciate them most, it's really neat.

"It drives my interest. I've had a great time with this."

Pixley said finding an item of such artistic and historical significance at a flea market "doesn't seem like it would happen that often."

"The most terrific thing about Mr. Mazur was the fact that he let his eye guide him," she said.

"He saw these were remarkable works of art, and so often people look at things and look for the artist's name first. Instead, he saw that these were excellent sketches, then later noticed the signature."