My Latest Artist Obsession

I have been an art lover for a long time. In the early days I would buy framed giclee prints of famous paintings, but later broadened my horizons to include numbered, signed prints, woodcuts and original paintings. While my taste is very eclectic, I have a fondness for mid-century modern pieces and my latest obsession are works by Margaret Layton.

Apparently Layton was a listed artist who lived in New York City and worked predominately in the 1950s/60s. I say “apparently” because I have been googling her for hours trying to find out more information about her life, work and death? with no success. I did find this one photo with this info.

One gal wrote that artist Margaret Layton created kitschy NYC street scenes that she sold in her Etsy store. Ummm…well, no! At least not this Margaret Layton.

Here’s what I know–she loved creating pictures of quirky street scenes and owls.

In fact when I was watching this 1971 episode of “Columbo” (a guilty pleasure of mine), I spotted a Layton owl in the background!! Crazy, right?!

But it’s her NYC street scenes that enchant me. I started by buying this one framed serigraph.

And then I bought this gouache painting that looked like a bit like a Paris apartment to me.

The painting cost $65 but I did pay up to have it reframed. I love how the interior gold trim on the new frame echoes the pattern in the curtains. And that old frame above with worm holes and stained linen matting had real gold leaf and I was able to sell it to help defray the cost of the new frame.

Then came this intriguing dark, almost spooky gouache painting of Hotel Demar. It arrived framed with glass, but I removed the glass. I do need to secure the painting to the frame as it’s very loose.

This is one I may sell.

There is some information on the back, perhaps where she lived and her phone number.

And lastly I purchased these two serigraphs from an Etsy seller for $225. I particularly like one with the moon.

And you may wonder…are these original from the MCM era or reproductions? I always take a good look at the back of the piece and if an online seller doesn’t provide a photo of it, I ask. With the decaying paper and older wire it’s easy to see this has some age. Additionally Cramp’s Framing in East Orange, NJ, is mentioned in 1925 yearbooks, but nothing recent, so I’m guessing they’ve been out of business for some time.

Will I keep them all? Add more to my collection?

As with any type of collection, decor or home furnishing, I see this artwork as fluid. Homes are rarely static. We grow and change. Our tastes evolve. If I get tired of one or lose interest, they are easy enough to sell!

The Good News

If you like Margaret Layton’s work, her pieces are widely available, typically under $300, some under $100.

I’ll close for now wishing you happy hunting and collecting what tickles your fancy!



  1. That is amazing to see one of her works on Columbo! I used to love that show (and the alternating ones too), and probably would still. You did pick a nice frame to bring out those curtains, as you say.
    Thrift store art is my greatest thrift store weakness. It’s amazing what wonderful things you can find. Not just amateur artists either. Nothing to get rich off of, but still artists who sell their work for hundreds. I’ve even found a few in the Goodwill bins! I’ve found wonderful signed and numbered prints, terribly framed, for .50 in the little frame tubs at St. Vincent de Paul. I’ll buy any original signed and numbered print for $1 or less, and work it out at home whether to keep it or not. I’m going on too long here, but a few days ago I found a beautiful print (203/300) of a Victorian house in blues, by Louis Bobbitt in 1977 for 50 cents!
    I’m glad you mention frames. I find framers labels are helpful too. I don’t resell, I just buy what I like!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes…thrift store art can be amazing. (Well done on the Louis Bobbitt print!) I’ve realized there is so much fantastic art out there for fairly low prices. Pieces that are really enchanting! Frames do make the difference. I’ve paid up at times to make a piece pop, but only on art I intend to keep!!
      All the best, Karen


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