Print fair a family tradition for father-daughter art dealers

by | Apr 22, 2015

Scott Kerr is president of McCaughen & Burr Fine Arts, where his daughter Sara Kerr, a UMSL art history student, also works full time.
Sara and Scott Kerr

Scott Kerr is president of McCaughen & Burr Fine Arts, where his daughter Sara Kerr, a UMSL art history student, also works full time. The family gallery is a regular at the annual, three-day St. Louis Print Fair that begins May 1. (Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Mercantile Library)

While taking an American art course at the University of Missouri–St. Louis last year, Sara Kerr kept encountering familiar names and paintings.

“I found that many of the artists we studied had come through the gallery,” said Kerr, an art history major at UMSL as well as a dealer at McCaughen & Burr Fine Arts in Webster Groves, Mo. “Then last semester, I was also curating a private collection, and what I was learning at UMSL was incredibly important to the work I was doing.”

Kerr has been involved in the art community for as long as she can remember. Together with her father, McCaughen & Burr president Scott Kerr, she’ll once again be on hand at the ninth annual St. Louis Fine Print, Rare Book and Paper Arts Fair, presented by the St. Louis Mercantile Library at UMSL May 1-3.

“The Midwest has its own regional style of painting, so being able to gather the dealers in the region is incredibly meaningful,” she said, noting that one of McCaughen & Burr’s specialties is Missouri regionalism, particularly artworks from between 1890 and 1960.

The business has been in the family since 1840, making her a fifth-generation dealer with the gallery.

“It is very gratifying to me that Sara has decided to continue in the family business,” Scott Kerr said. “There’s not going to be a break in the lineage of the family gallery, and it’s really great to know that it’s going to be in good hands.”

Their booth is a familiar one at the upcoming print fair, which is drawing dozens of dealers this year from across the country as well as local galleries including McCaughen & Burr. Wares on display during the fair will range from historical paintings to contemporary works and from vintage posters to books, illustrations and more.

“The key to a successful fair is the dealers,” Scott Kerr said, adding that the Mercantile’s annual event is the only indoor art fair St. Louis offers. “Boston, New York, Phoenix, Sante Fe and everywhere in between – Julie [Dunn-Morton] has done a very nice job of making selections so you get a wide variety, [and] I think it shows the influence that the Mercantile Library still wields.”

The father and daughter share an appreciation for the cultural significance and resources of the Mercantile, which mirrors McCaughen & Burr’s longevity in the St. Louis region. Both the library and the gallery were originally located near the riverfront, and both were in existence by the middle of the 19th century.

“All the great American artists passed through St. Louis,” Scott Kerr said. “We were the outlet for all the great Westward Expansion painters.”

In addition to the buying and selling of fine art, McCaughen & Burr does art restoration, appraisals and custom framings. Names such as Thomas Hart Benton, Ed Boccia and Joe Jones loom large among the gallery’s list of artists.

Beginning with a silent auction and preview party the evening of May 1, fair-goers will have the opportunity to explore these and thousands of other works and treasures available to view and purchase throughout the weekend. The event takes place in the J.C. Penney Building/Conference Center and benefits the Mercantile Library’s collection and conservation funds. For tickets and more information, click here.

Media Coverage:
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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