Friday, October 19, 2012

Arty Farty Friday~ Black Magic Woman shows up in Matilda

This is the third post on what I call my Black Magic Woman. A re-airing so soon after the previous one in July is occasioned by a new comment, received this month, on my 2008 post, "Black Stuff".

The original post published in 2008 has collected several comments overtime from others who have a similar decor piece and are, like me, curious to know more about it. It's obviously a mass-produced piece from the 1970s, probably produced in Austin Texas, possibly not in enormous quantities I'd guess, due to its size and heavy weight.

A comment from TED on 6 October 2012 brought some information:

Copy of comment and my response:

TED said on 6 October...
I also have the one armed black lady with morfy on the top right side of the base. I was told it was made by a artist in Pittsburg pa. It was in the movie Madeline with Danny DiVeto when he is saying "I buy you all these beautiful things". The black lady is on a table in the back.

Twilight: TED ~~ Thanks so much for letting us know this. Interesting! Now I have to find a DVD or VHS tape of the movie :-)
Later ~~~~I've looked around Amazon's DVDs for Madeline, but Danny DeVito isn't in that one, he is in Matilda though - some DVDs have the 2 films packaged together.
I'll try a used copy of Matilda, will report back in due course. ;-)

So, DVD acquired.....around two-thirds of the way through a viewing of the movie Matilda (1996) I spotted Black Magic Woman! It's not in a scene as described by TED though, perhaps it appears elsewhere too, but I didn't spot it. This screen capture is the clearest we could manage:

There are probably still quite a few more of these pieces around in the US - they're big and heavy, not easily broken. If anyone else has one, knows of one, sees one, or finds one in an attic or garage sale, do let us know.

UPDATE ~~~ See comment from "mike" below, and my response. There are one or two sculptures like this one shown on various sites (some may relate to long gone sales). I don't think there was ever a huge number of these around, and they likely will increase in value. We can hope! The production company no longer exists. "Morfy" remains a mystery, and doesn't seem to appear on any other design but this, or if it does it's not mentioned.


James Higham said...

I was listening to the Santana version the other day and it reminded me of your series.

Wisewebwoman said...

I love these types of mystery stories and I've always loved your BMW (he-he - Beemer?!)

And your updates...

PS how was the movie?

Twilight said...

James Higham ~~ That's one of my favourite tracks. :-)

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ The movie: Matilda isn't a movie I'd have chosen to watch without the motivation I had. It's an adaptation of a Roald Dahl story. Good v evil served up for adoloescent and early teenagers mainly. All is exaggerated to the nth degree - horrible uncaring parents, horrendous school head-teacher (bravely played by Pam Ferris) and overly sweet class teacher. The heroine is a young girl who learns to stand up to bullies of all kinds and develops a magical telekinesis ability.

I think the tale would have been much better told as an animated movie or even in an old-style cartoon format, because of the need for such ultra-exaggeration. Maybe its target audience would get the message though - it was a good message : stand up to bullies of all kinds. But without telekinesis that'll never be as easy for a child as the story makes out!

But, for me, the film served its purpose - I saw BMW. ;-)

mike said...

Hello, Twilight! I did some looking around the internet regarding your piece. I never found your piece, but lots of other Austin statues. You may have one of the rarer pieces, because of the scarcity. Here is a link that carries the most Austin:

Their website is a little confusing, but play around and you'll find they have a vast assortment of pieces. I would send them a photo and have them tell you. Look at the "Portrait of" looks to me that your piece is part of this series.

In all of my searching, I came across several business listings that all state the same:

Austin Productions, Inc. engages in the import and manufacture of sculpture and home furnishing decor products. Its products include candleholders, candles, clocks, decorative accessories, furniture, pedestals and seats, garden accessories, garden sculptures, mirrors, sculptures, wall accessories, and wall sculptures. The company sells its products in North and South America, Europe, Australia, the Far East, and the Middle East. Austin Productions, Inc. was founded in 1953 and is based in Ronkonkoma, New York.

835 Marconi Avenue

Unit A

Ronkonkoma, NY 11779

United States

Founded in 1953





The Austin website apparently is defunct. I found several references that would indicate Austin went out of business around 2009. There are several names of directors and telephone numbers on the site, so maybe you can call and see if the phones are connected.

There were several mentions of the Ronkonkoma library, so you may want to contact them, if nothing else pans-out. Good luck...

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Oh my! Thank you for this - and for taking the trouble to search. I must have given up trying long ago, but you've got me back on track again!

Yes, the "Portrait of" series you mention looks to me like the modernistic descendants, or interpretations of my sculpture's more simple style, from 1972.

Thanks for the addresses etc. too.

After looking around the site you suggested I went on a quick scramble through E-bay and Google Image using just "Austin Prod Inc 1972" (or sometimes without the date) and found some examples of my exact sculpture on sale.

I could be wrong, but I suspect there might be a "knock-off" version of it, there's one version at a Goodwill advert shown on Google Image with very different, coarser, facial features. Or perhaps it was that several different artists produced the same model, and that one wasn't by "Morfy".

Prices for some similar sculptures vary wildly from under $30 to over $300.

I'll put a brief update in the post above so's anyone interested can do the same search - whether now or sometime later when they stumble on the post.

I doubt my sculpture is worth a lot, but the fact that it's from 1972 makes it eligible to be called "vintage", and maybe one day it'll become a real antique. :-)

Anyway, on our trips around Texas antique stores in future I'll keep an eye open for any other Austin Prod Inc items, now that I'm aware of the extent of the output of the defunct company. There are at least two other pieces I'd be interested in (at a certain price though!)

mike said...

Well, Twilight, I think Morfy is Morfy Gikas:
She studied ceramics at Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, NY). Ronkonkoma, NY, is just south of Stony Brook.

I'll leave it to you to contact Morfy Gikas to confirm:

Twilight said...

mike ~~ I looked at her website yesterday. After typing just "morfy" into the Google search box and finding a few such names there I realised it is a first name rather than a surname as I'd assumed.

From there I found her website and looked at pics of her current work. I thought - no - I don't see this sculptor putting out something like my Black Magic Woman. So I discounted the idea, enticing as it was.

But I didn't realise, then, the connection you've pointed out, mike : Morfy Gikas, Ronkonkoma, and Austin Productions Inc. That does make a link between Morfy Giklas and BMW more likely.

She was born in 1946 according to the website, so she'd have been 26 at the time BMW was produced. Her own artistic style, as well as styles of the times have altered greatly since then.

I'll send an e-mail to the contact address, and report back on any response.

Thank you, once again, mike for your interest and research, pointing out a very possible link. :-)

Twilight said...

mike ~~ UPDATE: I've just now sent an e-mail to Morfy Gikas.

Anonymous said...

Let’s play an associative game. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Tantra’? If you aren’t a practitioner or scholar or one who has delved into Tantra, chances are you will think black magic ‘human sacrifice’, ‘skulls and bones’. You will also probably experience an adrenaline rush that screams, “Danger ahead. Run!”

Twilight said...

avashikaran ~

" first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Tantra’?"

erm....Sting - he used to go on about it a lot. ;-)

Unknown said...

I have one of these and im intrested in learning more about her mine is like a cream color . Please contact me with any info on her thanks

Twilight said...

Diana M.~ Hi there! I don't know any more than is mentioned here, in the post and comments.
I e-mailed a person we thought might be the "Morfy" named on our black version as sculptor (mentioned in comments) but haven't received any response. I will try again soon.

Yours is the first indication that there are other non-black-colored but similar pieces.

If I find out more in future I'll post again, and link the information to this post also.

Unknown said...

I have what you have referred to as the "Black Magic Woman" as well.


Twilight said...

Jorv Gavic ~ Thank you for letting me know! :-) Do you have any information about it's origins?

Unknown said...

How much is she worth? I purchased one today!

Twilight said...

J Cooks ~ Hi there! I don't know, and suspect there'll be a range of prices depending on detail. When I researched for information I came across several variations of this piece. It could be that these were produced by a "team" of young artists or students back in the 1970s and later.

I think I paid around $40 for mine, some 8 or more years ago, I've seen them on E-bay for more, and for less than that. Other vintage items from the company who produced these, Austin Productions, can often be found in antique/vintage stores around Texas, Oklahoma and elsewhere. Some of those can attract much higher prices.