Clark Cierlak of Clark Cierlak Fine Arts got started in 1976, when an acquaintance asked Cierlak to help out at an auction. Now he specializes in finding and selling fine art for less than $20,000, though his greatest discovery was a $350,000 Zao Wou-Ki, whose unaware owner had it stuffed in a closet. At a Saturday consignment auction, held about every six weeks in an industrial strip of Van Nuys, the earnest crowd nibbles at finger sandwiches, watchful eyes front and center, as the dry-witted Cierlak dashes through 200 to 350 paintings, lithographs, ceramics and sculptures, which can include Picasso, Chagall, Mary Corse, Vasarely, Louis Valtat and many other famed and not so famed. The thrill is that anything can happen, as Cierlak's people huddle on phones with unseen bidders. Still, a fine California plein air painting goes for just $425 and a Sam Francis limited litho can sell for around $450. A Sylvia Ji original for $1,600? C'mon! 14931 Califa St., Van Nuys, 91411. (818) 783-3052, —Norm Jenssen

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