An Idaho-born landscape painter who traveled the world on the strength of his sales, had one-man shows in New York, and commissioned a studio by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright is mostly forgotten now. Except by a southern Idaho historical society that owns 600 of Archie Teater's oil-on-canvas paintings and is working to revive interest in his art. Paintings by Teater, who died in 1978, once sold for thousands of dollars each. "They've lost their value because not a lot of people have heard of him," says Mike Owsley, president of the Hagerman Valley Historical Society. The society is raising money to replace its 1,200-square-foot museum in the tiny town of Hagerman with a building more than three times that size. It held an event earlier this summer at a nearby artist's studio designed for Teater by Wright, the AP reports.
Paintings by dead artists typically increase in value due to limited supply, but the prolific Teater created at least 4,000 works, with some estimates adding thousands more. Teater donated about 1,200 of his paintings to a fund for disabled children. The Idaho Community Foundation acquired 1,600 of his paintings in the mid-1990s, planning to sell them for charity. In 2003, the foundation started putting large quantities of the paintings on the market and prices plummeted. Teater is known for his impressionistic Western landscapes, particularly those involving the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. Generally, experts say, a move toward modernism and abstractionism along with Teater's failure to make more of an effort to market his work outside Jackson Hole, where he had a gallery, account for his forgotten status. (Read more Idaho stories.)