Painting by Flavia Gag unveiled

Staff photo by Gage Cureton George Glotzbach, right, shows fellow Wanda Gag House Association board members an original Flavia Gag painting Glotzbach had opened Tuesday during a board meeting at the Wanda Gag House. The painting, titled “Apartment on 16th Street near Washington Square,” depicts a view from a Manhattan apartment Flavia lived in during the 1950s. The Wanda Gag House Association bought the painting from a California man after he inquired for information about Flavia.

NEW ULM — The anticipation grew as George Glotzbach peeled off several layers of tape and paper off a slim package from southern California.

“You don’t always run into a Flavia Gag,” Wanda Gag House Association board member Diana Lee Schaefer said. “Much less such a beautiful piece.”

Board members of the Wanda Gag House Association unpackaged an original painting by Flavia Gag Tuesday at the Gag House, with Glotzbach given the honor to open the packaged piece of art.

“This is certainly a fine example of Flavia’s work because these colors just jump right out at you,” Glotzbach said. ” It’s just beautiful.”

Flavia was the sister of children’s book author and New Ulm native Wanda Gag. Like much of the Gag family, Flavia was an avid artist who also authored eight children’s books and numerous other works.

The painting, titled “Apartment on 16th Street near Washington Square,” depicts the view from a Manhattan apartment where Flavia had lived during the 1950s.

The painting was purchased from Martin Colasuonna, a resident of West Hills, Calif., who had come across the painting during an estate sale of a deceased television producer.

How Flavia’s painting ended up on the West Coast isn’t known, but Glotzbach said the deceased television producer had written for the American television series “Columbo.”

Schaefer said Colasuonna contacted her after he purchased the painting, asking for information on Flavia. She said Colasuonna had not heard of Flavia before the purchase and was willing to sell it after Glotzbach contacted him.

Glotzbach kept an email correspondence with Colasuonna and provided him with a letter from Cam Dykes, a woman who lived with Flavia in the apartment.

“It was an unusual apartment house with a large courtyard planted with bushes, small trees and a lawn,” Dykes said in the letter. “The three-storied building was covered with ivy. It was not far from Washington Square Park.”

Much of Flavia’s work is rare to Minnesota because of her relocation to New York in 1924. Besides the random find of one of Flavia’s paintings in a St. Peter thriftstore, and the subsequent mystery of how it got there, much of her work is hard to come by.

“When Flavia was here [in New Ulm] she was very little when she moved away,” Schaefer said. “So her artwork really isn’t in this area.”

Three of Flavia’s paintings and other Gag family artistry also reside in the Gag house.

The Wanda Gag House Association purchased the painting from Colasuonna for $500 with funds from Anderson Giving Tree. The funds from Anderson Giving Tree are used for the procurement and restoration of Gag family artwork.

The Journal could not reach Colasuonna for comment.

Gage Cureton can be emailed at gcureton@nujournal.com.