All images copyright Michele Kisly 2019
For the first time in memory a large group of commercial gallery owners and non-profit arts organization directors/curators met in one place to discuss the Rochester regional art market. The meeting was convened by Rochester Art Collectors and took place on Thursday, February 7th at RIT's newly opened City Art Space in downtown Rochester. A similar (albeit smaller and more exclusive group consisting only of commercial gallerists) was convened by Rochester Art Collectors and held at Axom Gallery and Exhibition Space in April, 2018. The goal of these meetings is to help foster a spirit of cooperation in support of growing the art market and enhancing the art scene in our area.
Leaders from the following organizations participated on February 7th: 1975 Gallery, Artshow.org, Axom Gallery & Exhibition Space, Bausch + Lomb Corporate Gallery, Ceramics Gallery at Flower City Arts Center, Chase The Art, Colleen Buzzard Studio Gallery, Create Art 4 Good, Flower City Arts Center, Gallery Q, Geisel Gallery, Genesee Valley Council On The Arts, Joel Sapienza, Kristen Campo Fine Arts, Lumiere Gallery, Makers Gallery and Studio, Memorial Art Gallery Gallery Shop, Michael Deming Antiques, Oxford Gallery, Phillips Fine Art & Frame Gallery, RIT City Arts Space, RIT Events Office, RIT Shop One, Rochester Contemporary Arts Center, Print Club of Rochester, Patricia O'Keefe Gallery at St. John Fisher College, Roslyn Goldman, UUU Art Collective, University Gallery at RIT, Whitman Works, and The Yards Collective.
It should be noted that all the organizations represented at the meeting offer art for sale at their locations. Some of the venues represented operate on a for profit basis while others are legally recognized as not-for-profit organizations. The discussion centered on ways to work together. The agenda for the meeting was generated by the participants prior to the meeting and then approved by the entire group on the night of the meeting.
Roz Goldman spoke to the group at the outset of the meeting about her experiences as a gallerist and leader of the Rochester Area Art Dealers (RAAD) group from years past. Unfortunately, Roz had to make another appointment and left after her presentation. Following Roz's presentation we did introductions around the room the group engaged in a general conversation about the regional art market followed by a deep dive into areas of common interest and ways the participants might work together. There was a brief conversation about the potential for programs with a regional reach. Time ran out before the group could consider ideas about developing a series of awards recognizing individual artistic achievement on a yearly basis and before an update on recent actions to secure more public funding for the arts in Rochester. The meeting ended with a summary of action items moving forward.*
The following is an executive summary of the conversation and, in some case, next steps:
For it's part, Rochester Art Collectors supports local galleries and non-profit arts venues collaborating on as many levels as they feel comfortable. The group also supports the development of a large scale, high visibility, high quality art fair in our area. Rochester Art Collectors continues to believe in the value of regional cooperation and will continue to support efforts in that direction as well.
Even though Rochester Art Collectors has only been in existence for nine months our group has offered twenty-one programs with the help of seventeen partner organizations. All but two of the programs were free to attendees. "Lure Of The Local," a panel discussion developed in collaboration with the Memorial Art Gallery, and "Think globally. Create, experience and collect locally," done in partnership with Rochester Contemporary, both required an admission fee to those who were not already members of those institutions.
We don't have an exact count but we believe our programs exposed attendees to several hundred artists' works for sale over the course of 2018. Generally speaking we try to hold our events inside of galleries during group exhibitions so attendees can both see and purchase works of art as well as pick up a little education. Event attendees were informed on a wide array of topics at our events including understanding and collecting glass, ceramics, and photography to printmaking, and more. All but five of our programs were open to the public.
Our five member-only programs in 2018 fell into two categories: "Collectors Circles" and "Collectors Previews". Members participating in a "Collector Circle" event may bring a piece of art from their collection created by someone other than themselves to talk about with the group. In addition, we have a guest speaker present information of interest to collectors. Usually we hold "Collectors Circle" events in a gallery during a group show. Members were also invited to three "Collectors Preview" events. Every so often we are able to gain access to exhibitions BEFORE the show is open to the public thereby providing members an opportunity to see and purchase works of art before the general public.
Here's the list of program events held in 2018. The most recent events are shown at the top.
by Jeanne Beck
Reprinted with permission from Owl Light News | Copyright 2018
There is a growing interest in collecting original art works by regional artists. Rochester Art Collectors started in 2017; its mission is to encourage more individuals to recognize the joys of collecting and help them become more knowledgeable and informed about regional art and artists.
Spurring the development of this new organization are its co-founders Sarah Webb and Rome Celli, both dedicated collectors.
Rome Celli, a local realtor, has been collecting art since he ran an urban art gallery in the 1980’s. He has long known what a wealth of artistic talent there is in Rochester and the 60-70 mile radius around it.
As an avid collector, Rome became keenly aware of the need to expand the love of collecting. “I wanted to do something to support visual arts in the region,” he explains. “We certainly don’t lack for excellent and diverse artists in our area. What we do need are more collectors . That’s where Rochester Art Collectors comes in. We’re the gardeners who are sowing the seeds and providing the encouragement, education and exposure to help grow a host of strong new collectors who will love and appreciate what our regional artists have to offer.”
Co-founder Sarah Webb is a long-time collector, exhibiting artist and author, university instructor and community arts volunteer. Sarah has known Rome since they first worked together on the former Pyramid Center Board in the 1990’s. “When we ran into each other again in 2017 and I learned he was starting this organization, I knew I wanted to get involved.“
The two are building Rochester Art Collectors’ programs and events to help redefine both what a collector is and how to become one. Rome frequently speaks to groups about collecting ; when he does, he asks people how many original works of art they have in their homes. According to Rome, “If you own two pieces of original art, you are a collector!” He and Sarah are excited about creating opportunities for people of all ages and interests to learn to trust their instincts and buy what they love.
Sarah says she likes to ask people, “What does it mean to live with art? “ She also offers advice to beginning collectors. “Notice what you are drawn to. Is it a specific subject matter or medium, for example? What makes you want to look, and look again?
“Once you take your first art work home, pay attention to what happens next. How does the new work commingle in your home? What happens when you pair it with something you already have; perhaps another formal piece of art or perhaps a piece of driftwood that you picked up along the shores of Lake Ontario? How does that scraggly line in the artwork perhaps mimic the line of the horizon you see through your window? “
What is Rochester Art Collectors?
Rochester Art Collectors is a privately funded, independent, non-commercial group created to promote collecting all types and styles of art. This all-volunteer group is currently comprised of about 300 members who have a shared interest in building a strong, vibrant arts scene in the region.
Rochester Art Collectors does not provide information on the investment aspects of collecting; there are ample other resources for that.
Members of Rochester Art Collectors do get opportunities to meet other art enthusiasts, visit galleries, interact with and support artists, and learn more about collecting, types of collections and ways to get started.
Rochester Art Collectors does not represent artists and does not sell art. It does not endorse or recommend any particular venues for purchasing art. It does list venues where you can purchase art on its website and invites website visitors to suggest other venues that may not be listed.
The works you will see shared on the website are not for sale; they are owned by collectors and are there to give visitors to the website an idea of the range of types of art others are collecting in this area.
Members are occasionally invited to a tour of private collections. These tours tend to be very limited in size and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
In a recent event at Main Street Arts in Clifton Springs, gallery director and curator Bradley Butler led a discussion on curating. The event was called “Curating Your Collection” and paralleled the curating process at Main Street Arts to the curating that happens in your own personal art collection. “Bringing several different styles or types of art together on the walls of your home—perhaps around a single theme—can spark a meaningful dialogue and the whole is often greater than the sum of its parts. That is something I enjoy doing in group shows at Main Street Arts because it can make people see things differently.” Butler said. The group saw examples of past exhibitions that were high points for Main Street Arts as well as images of Butler’s own art collection
What are the benefits of joining Rochester Art Collectors?
• Participate in building a strong, vibrant arts scene.
• Broaden your exposure to artists and artwork.
• Meet other art enthusiasts and collectors.
• Build your art collection. • Interact with and support artists.
• Access to member-only information, services and content on this site.
• Access to member-only events and activities: Private tours, art exhibition previews
• Conversations about art with other collectors
• Participate in important decisions about the group.
Membership is FREE
If you would like to learn more about Rochester Art Collectors upcoming events, about buying and collecting art and if you’d like to meet others who share your interests, just go to: www.RochesterArtCollectors.org. Click on the “Join Rochester Art Collectors” button to get involved. It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s free!
Jeanne Beck is a mixed media artist and owner of Jeanne Beck Art Gallery & Studio, 154 Mill St., Canandaigua, NY. The gallery features periodic regional guest artists, classes and workshops as well as original works. Open Wed 12-4:30, Thurs-Sat., 10-4:30. 585-704-6419.
When RochesterArtCollectors.org launched its website unofficially in December, 2017 we set goals around what we wanted to accomplish and then took a shot in the dark designing the site.
Before the organization's launch on April 1, 2018 we tweaked the website layout and much of the content adding pages describing the organization's mission and vision; plugging in a reservation system for our programs and adding a members only section.
Over the past couple of months we have evaluated our results, considered feedback from members (as well as non-member users) and started to edit and update the site to better match our goals and the expressed needs/interests. This process will be ongoing.
Here are some of the most recent updates:
We are still working on revisions and upgrades in our "members only" section. More on this in a future post.
On Tuesday, October 23rd at 6:30 pm we held our second "Collectors Circle" program. This one was held at Oxford Gallery. It was just as successful at the first one, held earlier in the year at Makers Gallery.
The Collectors Circle program is open only to members and seating is limited to just 30 people. We like to gather in an exhibition space during a current show. Typically a special guest speaker is invited to present on a topic of interest to member-participants.
The first 30 minutes of the program are are social . Members take some time to look at the work on exhibit; grab a bite and a sip while chatting with one another. Before too long we gather in a large circle. Each collector presents an original work of art from their collection to the group. Usually we hear a little background about the work and how the collector came to own it. Sometimes we hear why it's important to the owner's collection or why it's important to the collector or both.
This time around we heard stories about works of art saved by relatives who were refugees fleeing Nazi's during the World War II era and later given to the collector. At one point the lights were dimmed so that we could all experience the luminescence of an Op-Art piece from the 80s. An early 20th century landscape was presented along with details about the painter and it's importance to the collector. We even saw a bronze casting of a disposable cup lid from a show in 2016; As you can tell there was a wide range of work!
After the collectors presented their works of art we turned the floor over to Oxford Gallery owner, Jim Hall. He talked about the long history of Oxford Gallery. Established in the 1960s Oxford is the longest continuously running commercial gallery in Rochester. Jim and his wife, Ginny, have owned the gallery for 25 years. Oxford represents over 40 artist and exhibits their works on consignment - usually organized around exhibition themes - throughout the year. In addition, Jim is an active art dealer specializing in 19th century works. He closed his talk with a traditional definition of art collecting that prompted a lively discussion. The group broke up around 8:30 pm.
The next Collectors Circle will be held early in 2019. Details will be announced sometime after January 1, 2019.
We are very pleased to announce Mark Harrington has become the 300th member of Rochester Art Collectors!
It seems Mark was destined to appreciate and collect art. At the age of eight, without his parents knowledge, he rode his bike ten blocks to a local grocery store and bought a small oil painting of ducks in flight with his allowance. He gave that painting to his Mom. She kept it on her desk until she passed. It now hangs in his study in Pittsford. That was just the beginning..
During his early school years Mark's interest in art intensified and his activities expanded to include collecting. In high school Mark became friends with the daughter of the curator at the McNay Art Institute. While attending a exhibition at the McNay Mark was introduced to Lita Albuquerque, whose work is in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. Lita and her work made a lasting impression on Mark. Their friendship blossomed. While attending college in Austin Mark began collecting art with some regularity. He made a practice of visiting student art exhibitions, purchasing work that spoke to him along the way.
After business school while living in New York City in 1979 Mark became acquainted with Dorothy and Herb Vogel through Tom Armstrong, then curator of the Whitney Museum. The Vogels were two of the most remarkable people Mark had the pleasure of knowing. They were a fixture on the NYC art scene. The Vogels introduced Mark to important art dealers and taught him the ropes. Thanks to the Vogels he met Gracie Mansion at the opening of the first gallery exhibit of “graffiti art” created by Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat.
During their lifetimes the Dorothy and Herb Vogel amassed over 4,000 minimalist and conceptual works along with a fair number of abstract expressionist works. They built their massive collection on modest civil servants’ salaries. Herb worked in the Post Office and Dorothy worked as a librarian. They lived in a small two-bedroom walkup on 86th Street in Manhattan. Ultimately their collection was bequeathed to 50 different museums: 50 works to each of 50 museums in 50 states.
Harrington says, "The Vogels taught me the importance of getting to know the artist and seeing their work progress over time. Most importantly, they stressed that if a work moved me, and it was the first thing I saw in my mind when I woke up, go buy it on the spot." As with the Vogels, I never have and never will sell any piece I buy. Investment value is unimportant to me. What matters is how my heart and soul respond. Herb said he never wanted to build a collection, it just happened. He taught me to think of each piece as a friend that lived with me.
"I joined Rochester Art Collectors to participate in a vibrant community of art lovers, to support artists and to purchase beautiful works of art."
Header image © Roy Sowers 1999
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