Rochester Art Collectors will collaborate with Rochester Brainery on an series of five public presentations aimed at encouraging new collectors of local art. The series will be titled: "Living With Art". Each talk will focus on a different aspect of buying art created by local artists.
The presentations will be scheduled on a bi-monthly basis on Fridays beginning on March 2nd from 6:00 pm until 7:00 pm and coordinated with the Rochester Brainery's First Fridays activities. Future dates will be May 4th, July 6th, September 7th and November 2nd. Rome Celli from Rochester Art Collectors invite a special guest collector/artist to co-present each topic. The $5.00/pp suggested donation for this presentation will be used to support art exhibitions at the Rochester Brainery.
Here's what we know so far about the presentation on March 2nd:
Living With Art: A splash of inspiration at home or at work!
Join us for a fun, informal conversation about adding original art to your living and working spaces. We'll help you learn how to find affordable, handmade local art. We'll even show you a range of affordable examples. Add to your creative collection over time. You'll be inspired!
Co-presenters: Emerging collector & artist, Maria Victoria Savka, and longtime art collector, Rome Celli.
Rome has been collecting local art for over 30 years. He recently launched a new organization to support local collectors and local artists: RochesterArtCollectors.org. He'll help you get a feel for the local venues and opportunities.
Maria loves collecting other local artists' works! She shows her own work in many locations all over Rochester. She'll give you some tips and tricks when you're out looking at art.
A friend of Rochester Art Collectors has agreed to underwrite up to 10 tickets to the first presentation. The first ten people who sign up using the link below or who sign up for the event on eventbrite.com will get in free!
CLICK HERE TO CLAIM A FREE TICKET TO THE PRESENTATION ON MARCH 2, 2018
Every so often we put the spotlight on a local collector. We'll give you a little background about the collector and then talk about one or more topics that may be of interest to other collectors.
Rome Celli grew up in Rochester. He also attended school in Rochester eventually graduating from St. John Fisher College with a BA in political science in 1982. He's married to a former arts reporter for the Democrat & Chronicle, Elizabeth Forbes. They have two sons in college. Rome is a residential real estate broker by profession.
Rome has been collecting local art for over 30 years. He has served on numerous non-profit arts boards including the Pyramid Arts Center and it's successor organization, Rochester Contemporary. He also operated a small commercial art gallery in downtown Rochester for several years in the late 1980s, early 1990s hosting both in gallery shows as well as what we would now call "pop-up" shows all over town during that time. Rome is one of the organizers of Rochester Art Collectors.
Rome it not a fan of art openings since it's so hard to focus on the work at a party. He'd much rather see the work on a quiet day away from the crowds. A studio visit with the artist is by far preferred. One way or the other he very much likes to meet with the artist and talk about the work before he makes a decision to buy. He not only wants to understand the artist's thinking, techniques and approach he also enjoys just getting to know the artist as a person. Ideally, he prefers to meet at the artist's studio but it's not uncommon to meet at a coffee shop, a gallery or somewhere else. Rome met Jappie King Black at an exhibition space and Jane Lichorowic at a coffee shop. Unless the work is already familiar to Rome he rarely buys a piece upon a first exposure. He likes to think about the work and come back to look again and talk about the work with the artist, if possible, before buying.
We asked Rome about a couple of recent acquisitions...
Jane Lichorowic is an emerging artist who graduated with a degree in illustration from RIT and now works as an illustrator at the University of Rochester's Laser Lab. She currently lives in the Southwedge.
Her recent work, like the piece above on the right, features an organ of the human anatomy integrated with botanical elements such as flowers or ferns. She says she rarely begins with a specific image in mind. She may open up an anatomy book, see something that inspires her and begin. The rest comes to her as she moves along. Acrylic and paper are her preferred media. The line work on her paintings is carefully done with ultra fine brushes. Colors, contours and shading are done with a variety of slightly larger brushes. You'll note the work has a strong graphic presence.
Jappie King Black is a retired educator currently living in Brockport, NY; the site of a vibrant creative community centered around SUNY Brockport. Jappie was born in Detroit and studied textile design at Rhode Island School of Design receiving her MFA from Syracuse University in fiber with an emphasis in sculpture. She also studied at the Ateneo Fuente, Universidad de Coahuila; Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. Her work has been shown at many galleries across the United States.
As you you might expect from her degrees and as you can see from the photo on the right she works in three dimensions and is most well know for using grapevine, bark, wood, wire, fibers, wax and occasionally quills to construct her sculptures. Much of the gravevine work is figurative and ranges widely in size from larger than a human figure to a size that would fit comfortably in your hand. She's done indoor and outdoor site-specific installations involving dozens of individual pieces as well as singular pieces. In addition to producing sculptures made of natural materials she also makes bronze castings.
Jappie and Rome met on a chilly afternoon this past Fall at relatively new, non-traditional, appointment-only exhibition space: Lout Cow in Spencerport, NY. Loud Cow is located on the grounds and in the barn of a property owned by artists, Aaron Delehanty & Jane Esther Mahoney.
Jappie's work was installed alongside work by Allen Topolski. Both artists were showing a fairly large amount of work at that venue. Rome & Jappie spent about an hour walking around the show chatting about the work and catching up. In the week or two that followed they exchanged many messages, photos, and ideas. They met again at Loud Cow to talk in more detail before Rome settled on "Winged Dragon Lady" (above right).
Although Jappie has been making similar imagery for some time Rome chose the work because it felt to him like it spoke to the popular culture and politics of the moment around female empowerment. Rome saw a connection with pop culture icons such as the "Mother of Dragons" character Daenerys Targaryen from the most popular TV show in history, Game of Thrones.
As a matter of personal policy Rome says he does not negotiate over price with artists. He believes artists have the right to price their work by whatever method makes sense to them. So, as much as he might like to purchase a work he may not be able to do so. "Everybody has a budget," says Rome. In his mind he can either afford the work or he can't. If the artist is able to sell their work for the price requested, so much the better for the artist! Rome's loss is someone else's gain according to him.
Although the pieces shown in this post are figurative Rome collects a wide range of styles. He's particularly found of portraits of one kind or another. Unconventional portraits are of particular interest. Most of the work in Rome's collection is two dimensional although he does have a number of three dimensional pieces as well. In the end a piece has to have an "edge" - to challenge Rome - in order for him to be drawn to it.
Not all the art in Rome's collection was made by local artists. Rome is an enthusiastic member of the Print Club of Rochester. Each member of the Print Club receives a print chosen by the Club's board every year. Usually the Club will pick an artists outside or the Rochester area. When they pick a local artist that's a bonus from Rome's point of view. Regardless, Rome enjoys interacting with Print Club members many of whom are local artists.
"Collecting artwork by local artists is a joy to me," says Rome. "Every acquisition either begins a new relationship or refreshes an established relationship."
What follows below my introduction here is a brief except from a longer piece posted to ArtBusiness.com which, in turn, is taken from a talk by Alan Bamberger given to the Friends of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina. Honestly, I don't intend to collect art like a "pro" and I'm not sure I want to build a collection in quite the same sense as Mr. Bamberger describes but the art nerd in me found the information very interesting. The principles described apply as much to buying work by local artists as they do to buying internationally renowned artists. Link to Alan Bamberger on facebook.
Click here to see the full posting on ArtBusiness.com
There's a big difference between buying art and collecting art. Buying art is more of a random activity based on likes, preferences or attractions at any given moment, while collecting art is more of a purposeful directed longterm commitment. In both cases, you buy what you like, but if your goal is to collect art and do it right, you have to master two additional skills. The first is being able to effectively research, evaluate and decide whether or not to buy whatever works of art attract you. The second is being able to choose each individual work in such a way as to form a meaningful grouping aka a collection.
If you're like most people, you know how to buy art on a piece-by-piece basis, but may not be all that accomplished at formulating a plan for making multiple acquisitions over time, or in other words, building a collection. You can find art you like just about anywhere you look and in a seemingly endless array of subject matters, mediums and price ranges, but sifting through it all in a systematic manner can be overwhelming and even intimidating. So how do decide where to focus and what direction to go in? How do you relate one purchase to the next? How do you organize or group your art together in ways that make sense? How do you present it? And most importantly, how do you do all these things well? This is what collecting is all about; it's the ultimate case of controlled purposeful buying.
What makes a great collector great is his or her ability to separate out specific works of art from the scrillions of pieces already in existence and assemble them in such a way as to increase or advance our understanding of that art in particular or of the history and evolution of art in general. In any mature collection, the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts, the collector comes to be accepted as a respected authority and in exceptional cases, goes on to set the standards, determine tastes, trends and influence the future of collecting for all.
Regarding the art that does make it into your collection, most novice collectors will tell you they buy what they like. That's definitely the best way to buy, but as you gain experience, the reasons why you buy what you like should become increasingly more conscious, detailed, sophisticated and purposeful. For example, you might hear an advanced collector say something like, "Not only do I love this sculpture, but it's also a prime example of the artist's best subject matter from his most productive time period and it fills a major gap in my collection."
What an experienced collector essentially does is pose a problem and then illustrate the solution to that problem by piecing together a collection. That way, everything fits and it all makes sense according to the master plan. Take this problem for instance:
What is the history of abstract painting in Southern California? The solution is an art collection consisting of abstract paintings by Southern California artists that date from the early days right on up to the present (or from whatever time period the collector is focusing on).
Ask questions like:
* Why do I like the kinds of art I'm buying?
* What about it satisfies me?
* Do I like it for the subject matters, what it represents, what it communicates, its originality, the techniques, the colors, the historical aspects, the regions where it's made, the lives of the artists?
* Does it make me think about things I've never thought about before?
* Does it make me feel a certain way or see things in a different way?
* Do I admire its technical qualities the most?
* Do I like it for the concepts, ideas, themes or philosophies it embodies, communicates or stands for?
* Does it alter or inform my perspective on some aspect of life?
* Does it portray or present things in ways they've never been presented before?
* Is it that it's old, new, local, foreign, big, small, round, square, whatever?
Once you begin to identify the common threads, you can refine your buying to zero in on additional pieces that share those characteristics. It's almost like putting together a mission statement or clearly and specifically defining your goals...
The good news is you can begin documenting at any time and even from a standing stop. Write down everything you can about the art you own, either from memory or by contacting the original sellers. Include information like the following:
* Any stories the sellers tell you specifically relating to the art.
* Details about the purchases including any memorable moments about making them.
* What the art means or what its significance is, either according to the artist or to whomever sold it to you.
* Biographical and career information about the artists.
* How or why or any other information about how the art was made.
* When the art dates from.
* Whether any pieces have ever been exhibited in public, at galleries, written about or featured or discussed in any other way.
Another distinguishing feature of a superior collection is that it's organized. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end-- just like any good museum exhibition. This goes back to posing the problem and then using the collection to map out the solution. Take the previous example of the "history of abstract painting in Southern California." This collection can be organized in many ways including by date, by artist, by style, or by location. Or you can get even more specific. Within a topic as narrow as this, there are all kinds of subtopics:
* Abstract painting in Los Angeles organized by date.
* Abstract painting in Southern California between 1950 and 1970.
* Geometric abstract painting in Southern California.
* Abstract painting in Southern California by immigrant artists.
* Abstract paintings in Southern California that are no larger than 12 by 16 inches.
This increases not only their enjoyment, but it also reinforces your chosen direction and your future buying. Additional benefits to organizing your collection are that you can see where you've been, where you're going, where you have duplication, where you're weak, what you're missing, what no longer makes the grade, and what you have to do to resolve any problems. It's not much different from your kids putting together all the baseball cards of their favorite teams to complete their collections.
The worst possible outcome for a collection occurs when the owner passes away leaving no information about the art, how much it's worth, how to care for it, or how to sell or donate it. Countless works of art have been resold for pennies on the dollar, given away, or even thrown in the trash because the owners kept little or no records and left no instructions on what to do with it.
Header image © Roy Sowers 1999
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