It is rare that I have the chance to spend time with someone who has purchased my work. I do meet collectors on occasion. Typically my work is sold by one of the galleries that represents me. Sometimes I will meet a collector at an opening, which is what occurred in this instance. This collector had been showing interest in my work for a while and came to the opening of my solo show at Rosenbaum Contemporary, in Boca Raton, Fla., in December 2011. I was very excited to meet her, not only to discuss my work, but also to hear about all the other works she has collected over the years. Sometimes at an opening, the swell of the crowd makes it near impossible to have an intimate conversation with a collector. I was delighted when she extended me an invitation to see her home and collection.
As I entered her home, the first painting I encountered was a stunning large scale Milton Resnick right by the front door that stopped me in my tracks! It was enormous, probably taller than 7 feet and absolutely breathtaking. The director who placed the work mentioned that she had been collecting for over 30 years and had acquired many important pieces. His words could not have prepared me for the experience of actually seeing a gathering like this. Upon continuing through her home, she pointed out paintings by Joan Mitchell, Larry Poons, Hans Hoffman, Frank Stella, Jules Olitski, Cleve Gray and so many others. It was possible to observe them closely, because we were not in a museum, where one might normally find such works. I gasped when I saw my work in the dining room in the middle of all these acknowledged master works. I felt such joy to see that it fit in well with the other paintings. In fact, I never really thought about having such an opportunity, it was a bit surreal. Was I in a dream I had yet to dream?
She proceeded to show me on her iPad many works from her other home where one of my paintings was shipped. I was amazed by the magnitude of her collection. She was very gracious to take so much time with me and explain her collection. Her stories about the paintings and experiences with the artists who made them were fascinating. I was astonished by her eye for abstract expressionism and excited by her enthusiasm for the works. It seemed she bought what she loved, not necessarily what she thought would hold value. We later went to lunch and talked about when she met Joan and Helen (Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler). It was so interesting to hear her perspective of them. She mentioned that they seemed quite unhappy. I thought to myself why would they be unhappy? I feel so blessed to be able to pursue my passion. So I naively asked her why they were they so unhappy. She proceeded to explain to me that the climate of the art world was one with much criticism and that could really affect one’s career. These women faced many challenges.
I found an image of Joan Mitchell’s paintings in a book many years ago. I felt I knew her in some strange way, and now I had the opportunity to hear a little about her from someone who met her, an odd yet serendipitous set of circumstances and an opportunity to reflect on how grateful I was for my own life. Having a family first and then pursuing my professional career in art. This helps to bring balance and perspective not easily attainable in the solitary studio life. This was one adventure I certainly had not anticipated. As an emerging artist, I feel so fortunate to have had all of the opportunities I have had over recent years. Each day I wake up and think, what new adventure will I have today! I am excited to share this journey with the readers of this blog!