How I Started Collecting:
Soon after I was born, my parents purchased a painting of a young girl at the Washington Square art show. They felt that art was a celebration of life. Some of their friends were artists so we were privileged to receive gifts, including Ruth Orkins photograph of Einstein laughing, which came from her husband, Morris Engel. I love to imagine what stories she had about that encounter! As an artist, my own collection began really as a natural form of exchange, or generous gifts from artists whose work and presence I revere. I could easily rhapsodize about how each one has affected my life.
My First Acquisition:
I never imagined that I could afford to buy art. Then I found myself flipping through Michael J. Leus prints in Grand Central Station during Christmas week. Transfixed by a tiny etching of a horse-drawn carriage against a wild sky, which was strangely reminiscent of a Hans Andersen tale that I adored as a child, I could not walk away from it. The etching, which was about $25, still sits on the windowsill next to my bed, so I see it every morning and evening.
A Favorite Story About My Collection:
In 2005 I met art dealer Cheryl McGinnis, whose vision about art and collecting was pure in a way that I had never experienced. My life was transformed! She represents me as an artist; but in addition, working with her and learning from her as an assistant at her Madison Avenue gallery has been the most joyous experience of my life. At the holidays one year, she offered me a bonus that meant more than any amount of money. “You are my rock,” she said, and bought me Kristin Flynns Champlain Rock, which was hanging in the gallery. The painting captures the spirit in the striations of the rock; its very formation affects the atmosphere around it. Though I’m not a morning person, I look at that painting as I wake up and can push through most anything to get up and out into the world.
My Most Recent Acquisition:
It was visiting April Vollmers studio in 2002, and seeing her vibrant approach to life as a printmaker and teaching artist, that inspired me to leave my corporate secretarial job and focus on my art full-time. This year I had work included in an exhibition with April and four other artists at Cheryl’s gallery. I celebrated by purchasing April’s Rococo Puff, a mandala-like moku hanga woodcut that I had been dreaming about. It was also my first purchase from a gallery.
Advice for New Collectors:
You don’t have to be wealthy to collect art. If artists can afford to collect, anyone can. Pay the amount off in increments if necessary, or if something you love is out of your range, ask if the dealer has smaller or less expensive work by that artist. As you collect you will discover things about yourself through what you are drawn to, and it’s exciting to see how a new piece interacts with the other work in your collection.