The Valdosta Daily Times
Jack Wooten was a private man with public interests.
He worked for the State Department for decades. He spent 29 years living in Japan. He collected Asian art, furniture, antiques. From Lakeland, he traveled the world to Russia, India, throughout Asia, Europe, before returning home to South Georgia.
He was quiet, almost shy; yet, he could share a story behind each one of the works in his collection.
He was a dancer. He went to New York to dance then years later, he taught ballroom dancing.
He befriended actors, but he avoided the spotlight.
He was a designer who put the emphasis on the work as he settled into the shadows.
He was uncomfortable in crowds especially if he thought attention might rest upon him.
He was a private collector but believed the public should see great pieces of art. He had the concept that led several years ago to the Valdosta Collects exhibitions.
He believed art should be displayed, whether in public or at home. The art should be seen even if the exhibitor remains in the background.
Jack Wooten passed away in the fall of 2012. He was 80 years old and wished to retain his privacy even in death.
As per his wishes, there was no funeral service or even an obituary marking his passing.
So, Jack Wooten is gone but his art, furniture, porcelain pieces, and more are on virtual display for an online auction starting noon Monday, March 31, through 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, and physically for two open houses next weekend.
The auction includes more than 500 lots. Items include pieces such as Tansus, Imari, Hibachis, screens, Arita ware, Kutani, Netsukes, furniture, along with more than 150 artworks including wood block, prints and oils, Tiffany and Waterford crystal, according to Professional Auctioneers, the Valdosta firm handling the auction.
Norma Cloud of Professional Auctioneers knows many of the stories behind Wooten’s pieces. Most of the works are from the 19th century, Cloud says.
“Jack’s collection is extensive,” says Julian Cloud of Professional Auctioneers, explaining the online auction. “The Asian art, antiques and collectibles are far beyond the scope of the local market.”
Daniel Hanifan, a South Georgia-based artist and Wooten’s friend, says that every piece has a story behind it.
“Jack would want people to love the pieces as much as he did,” Hanifan says.
The auction open houses will give people a chance to not only inspect the works but to share these stories as well as remember Wooten.
Hanifan believes Wooten would have loved the idea of the open houses to view his collection.
“He would be honored to know that people would come and see this collection of his things.”
Though a private man, Jack Wooten’s spirit will likely fill the North Ashley Street open houses.
“Jack always told people goodbye by saying, ‘Love you, man,’” Hanifan says. “He said it to everybody. From all of us to you, Jack, love you, man.”