Friend watercolors, prints up for bid

WARREN – Fans of artist James Friend will have the rare opportunity this week to take home some of his original pieces during a silent auction.

Friend, formerly of Warren, died Dec. 14, 2012, at his home in Fairmont, W.Va. He was 74.

The auction is being held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the cafetorium at Warren G. Harding High School, 860 Elm Road N.E.

Tribune Chronicle community events coordinator Sue Shafer said she owns several prints of the arist’s work and displays them at home and in her office.

“After he drew the pieces, he would make prints of all of them. They’re each signed and numbered,” she said. “This auction is to sell the pieces all those prints are made from.”

Shafer said this will be the first time Friend’s one-of-a-kind watercolors are being sold, adding that the the bulk of his work will be available.

“This is a limited opportunity. Jim’s work is so well-received and sought after. We think there’s going to be a lot of interest,” she said. “I’ve already received absentee bids and a lot of calls, so I think the auction will be well-attended by the community.”

A preview of most of the 86 pieces up for auction is available on the Tribune Chronicle’s website.

Friend’s wife, Jonnie, said because her husband spent his entire working career in Warren, a lot of his inspiration came from the area and its history.

The collection up for bid includes a selection of Amish scenes, views from old Warren and several local high schools, churches and bridges.

Shafer said the most compelling part of the sale will be his historic pictures, especially those of Idora Park, Warren City Hospital, the old Warren G. Harding High School, Turner Junior High School, Niles McKinley High School and the John Stark Edwards House.

She said exhibits of Friend’s pieces have been displayed in places such as the Cleveland and Butler art museums, but this is probably the most extensive collection in the area.

“This will be the first and largest gallery showing of his original work,” Shafer said. “He inspired a lot of young artists and this is a tribute to Jim and his work.”

Friend was a former Harding High School art teacher and administrator.

A portion of the proceeds from the auction will benefit the Tribune Chronicle’s Newspaper In Education program that Friend contributed to for five years after his retirement.

Interested buyers can call Shafer to place absentee bids. The newspaper also is holding a two-day sale of framed and unframed Friend prints only. No original watercolors will be available. The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 2 and 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 3 at the paper, 240 Franklin St. S.E., Warren.

For more information on the auction and sale, contact Shafer at 330-841-1696 or at