The property that once belonged to Madison folk artist Sid Boyum has gotten a yearlong reprieve from the auction block.
The Dane County Treasurer’s Office said Tuesday it will wait until October 2016 to auction the property at 237 Waubesa St. Dane County seized the property after it accrued over $18,000 in unpaid property taxes and penalties in five years, according to county records.
The decision to delay the auction came partially in response to a vocal group of East Side residents and others who want to try to preserve the large amount of art on the property, said Adam Gallagher, Dane County treasurer.
“The group that has been in discussions and meetings that I attended has been willing to work with me, so I’m willing to work with them,” Gallagher said.
But a lot of work remains for the volunteers, county employees and historians who hope to clean up the property and relocate Boyum’s art. Volunteer Matthew Villand, who lives down the street from the Boyum property, said he and others who worked in the house on Thursday morning had to wear respirators and full-body protective gear as they sorted art and “artifacts” from large amounts of often-moldy junk.
“He was just a pack rat,” Villand said of Boyum, who died in 1991. “I don’t think he cared about cleanliness; he just cared about making stuff.”
Villand said he and seven other people spent roughly four hours in the house on Thursday, collecting photographs, photo negatives and architectural drawings for the Wisconsin Historical Society.
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Because it’s not clear who owns the property, or who inherited it, said Mark Fraire, director of the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, no art was removed.
But Villand said they did remove waterlogged paper, dead birds and “sludge” from the house, which has a hole in the roof and may at one point have sheltered some 30 stray cats adopted by Boyum.
“We got a lot of the really gross stuff out, which will make it easier to access the art,” Villand said.
Since Boyum’s death, more than a dozen sculptures have been recovered from the property’s front, back and side yards. A chair in the shape of a reclining polar bear graces Elmside Circle Park; a smiling mushroom greets users of a bike path near Atwood Avenue.
But Villand said there could be a lot more art to come from inside the house. “It’s amazing in there, what he did,” he said. “Every square inch is covered with decorations and knickknacks.”
There are larger works, as well. Villand said one standout piece inside the house is a huge Buddha, which is built into an interior wall and will be a challenge to preserve.
The property was valued by a private appraiser at $50,000, Gallagher said. Unless the city buys the property, Boyum’s home and lot — and everything else on the property — will go up for auction next fall, he said.
Villand said he thinks the property’s real value comes from the art and artifacts inside and out.
Gesturing to the sculptures scattered throughout the backyard, he said, “In my lifetime, I could never make all this.”