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Collector Scoop: Carl Bedell

Collector Scoop is a blog series of interviews and features on emerging and established art collectors. Today, we are excited to have a little chat with our very own board member Carl Bedell!

Carl has worked with various private museums and art institutions to develop young professional membership groups, including the Corcoran Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection. In 2015, Carl Co-Founded ACCADEMIA DC, a pending 501c3, that aims to build a new generation of benefactors for the arts by connecting emerging collectors with artists.

Can you share your background with us and how you got into collecting art? Do you remember the first piece of art that you bought?

My introduction to art came in 1992 when my family moved to Germany for a military assignment.  If my weekends were not spent playing sports or in school activities, my parents had my brothers and I in the car traveling to see the wonders of Europe - often times that meant world-class museums. With that background, my appreciation for art developed and continued until I began collecting.

 In 2008, my mother and I traveled to Philadelphia to visit the Barnes Foundation (just prior to its relocation). That weekend happened to be Philadelphia's First Friday when the commercial art galleries were open late and the trompe l’oiel painter Adam Vinson had a solo show that I stumbled across. Adam’s show was the first time I saw artwork in a commercial setting that immediately spoke to me.  I stayed in touch with Adam sporadically for the next five years until I decided to jump into collecting. His Card Sharks was the first piece of fine art that I acquired and remains one of my favorites.

The first photograph in my collection is by Binh Danh. Binh has several pieces in the National Gallery of Art’s permanent collection and was included in their 2015 exhibition The Memory of Time. This exhibition was especially interesting to me because it was entirely of contemporary photographers - many of whom were relatively young. I visited the exhibition and left with a list of artists’ names that I took home to research. Binh was in that list and after several emails (he may tell you it was many more than several) we met during his visit to DC and shortly thereafter I committed to purchasing his Bridalveil Falls daguerreotype.

What are your favorite resources for discovering new artists?

Discovering new artists is one of the most exciting aspects of collecting. Art shows, gallery visits and museums are obvious ways to identify new artists and I certainly have discovered many artists in that way – for example Adam Vinson and Binh Danh. But I also spend a significant amount of time researching artists online. Much of art in my collection is by artists that I have discovered in more proactive searches and then reached out to directly.

Facebook, Instagram and other online social media provides an incredible resource for identifying new artists.  Most artists now have some sort of online presence and the algorithms that the social media uses to “suggest” new content is pretty successful in identifying your preferences and suggesting new artists. I have discovered many artists this way, many of whom I have come to know personally and in some cases, acquired their works.  Heather Rooney is one such artist.  In 2013, Heather was producing photo-realistic portraits of World Cup stars and posting them online with a time-lapse video of the drawing. Her skill level is incredible – especially as a 22 year old self-taught artist. The video of Heather drawing the Winston Churchill portrait I purchased is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-dke8QaiJo.       

 Whenever I travel, I normally research and contact local artists and try to make a point to fit in at least one studio visit (in addition to the local museums and galleries). This adds a special memory to the trip and allows me to meet artists that are outside of the DC area. The first piece that came into my collection this way was a ceramic trompe l’oeil piece by Cathy Moberg, Good Fortune. Cathy works in Nashville and she allowed me to stop by her studio and see her works-in-progress. 

 Studio visits are important to me as a collector because it allows me to get to know the person and see the process that goes into creating the art. I normally come away from studio visits with a deeper understanding of what the artist was trying to convey and a greater appreciation for what the artist created. Some of my favorite studio visits have been to see the Baltimore based sculptor, Sebastian Martorana, the Washington DC based painter Trevor Young, and the New York based painter Tigran Tsitoghdzyan.

Do you have any advice for emerging or aspiring art collectors?

My advice to emerging or aspiring collectors is to jump in, collect what speaks to you and make it personal. For me, my collecting began with an appreciation for artistic craftsmanship. Adam Vinson’s trompe l’oeil works were so incredible to me that after five years, the memories of his first works I saw still stuck with me and led me to begin collecting.

My biggest regret in terms of collecting is that I did not start sooner. Before I began collecting, I believed that in order to acquire “good” art, I would have to spend a small fortune. The reality is that there is a lot of great art available at every price point.  Some of my favorite works in my collection were the least expensive.

My appreciation for the art in my collection is largely based on the stories behind the works. Nearly every piece of art in my collection has a personal story for me – a story about the art or about the artist. That personal connection makes the art more than an aesthetic addition to my home. It makes the collection a record of the stories and people in my life.

Artists Referenced:

Are you an emerging or established art collector and interested in being featured? Email Rachael at rachael@crusadeforart.org

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Collector Scoop: Jessi Bowman

Collector Scoop is a blog series of interviews and features on emerging and established art collectors. Today, we are happy to share a conversation with Jessi Bowman of Houston Center for Photography about how her collection got started.

Can you share your background with us and how you got into collecting art? Do you remember the first piece of art that you bought?

My grandma is a mixed media artist and my aunt is a poet, so my family has always been very involved in the arts. My love for photography started out very early. When I was a kid I was constantly taking pictures. I had this Barbie toy camera, then I upgraded to disposables, then to a 35mm and finally to a DSLR. I eventually got my degree in Art History from the University of Houston and minored in photography.

I don’t ever remember consciously starting to collect, nor do I remember the first work that I bought, but I’ve always been a bit of a pack rat. I guess I started with McDonald’s Happy Meal toys and refined my taste from there!

The only thing I really remember was the excitement of supporting my friends or my family. To this day my grandma’s work still covers my walls. I do however remember the first “big girl” piece I collected, Untamed by Lori Vrba from Catherine Couturier gallery here in Houston… I am still paying it off.    

   Lori Vrba  ,  Untamed , from  The Moth Wing Diaries

Lori Vrba, Untamed, from The Moth Wing Diaries

How do you think that collecting contributes to the artistic community?

Being a patron of someone’s work is almost more important than being an artist yourself. It’s kind of a tricky thing for artists to acknowledge sometimes. Obviously if you have the drive to create art you should do it no matter what and I think it’s crucial not to think about whether or not your art will sell while you’re making it, but I think people really underestimate how important it is for someone to buy your work. You can go on and on about art being for art’s sake, and that’s true, but art is a conversation between the person making it and the person experiencing it. If an artist doesn’t get anything in return, how are they supposed to keep making more? I don’t set a goal for myself, but I like to buy as often as I can. I have a list of artists that I would like to collect from and I’m kind of trying to go down that right now.

Has your affiliation with the Houston Center for Photography lead you to discover new artists that you have (or have considered) collecting from?

Oh all the time! There are tons of people whose work I’ve wanted nothing more than to put on my walls. I have been lucky enough to collect from a couple of people this last year, one of whom (Kristin Diemer) I purchased after sitting in on a review of her work.  

 Tita Bowman (Jessi Bowman's grandmother),  Untitled .

Tita Bowman (Jessi Bowman's grandmother), Untitled.

What are your favorite resources for discovering new artists?

Funny enough, Instagram is one of my favorites. We get a lot of submissions to HCP which has brought many artists to my attention, but nothing beats falling down the rabbit hole of Instagram. I have collected at least four works from people I have found on Instagram.

  From personal collection of Jessi Bowman

From personal collection of Jessi Bowman

Do you have any advice for emerging or aspiring art collectors?

I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason: collect what you like. Why spend the money on it if you aren’t going to hang it on your walls? Even if you’re buying for the monetary value, it’s hard to sell work to someone if you don’t like it yourself.

Also, don’t get discouraged and think you have to be rich to collect. There are so many talented artists in all different styles at all points in their careers whose work is affordable. I have never made much money. As an artist myself, I’ve worked out many trades and payment plans for my own work as well as for the purchase of other people’s. You don’t need as much money as you would think to collect.

Are you an emerging or established art collector and interested in being featured? Email Rachael at rachael@crusadeforart.org

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Collector Scoop: Colony Little

Collector Scoop is a blog series of interviews and features on emerging and established art collectors. Today, we are happy to share a conversation with Colony Little of Culture Shock Art about how her collection got started.

Can you share your background with us and how you got into collecting art? Do you remember the first piece of art that you bought?

I created Culture Shock Art in 2010 as a passion project and a creative outlet from my career as an underwriter for an insurance company.  At the time I was drawn to street art I’d discover during my commute to downtown Los Angeles and I came across this incredible JR mural from his Wrinkles of the City series.  I had no idea who created the piece, so my quest to learn more about the artist/photographer led me to his TED Talk and I ended up writing about him on the blog.  JR’s career trajectory and the work he’s created to visually capture the stories of thousands of people around the world was fascinating to witness.  I ended up buying one of his early lithographs in 2011.  Since then I’ve collected art that is best described as eclectic.  My husband and I collect illustrations, graphic art, vinyl records (I love Blue Note covers), photography and low brow art. We have three pieces of art floating around here inspired by the show Arrested Development. I love them simply because they make me laugh!  

 Image from personal collection of Colony Little (Left to Right) Graham Erwin,  I am a Monster!  2012 ; Ralph Ziman,  Mbara Bara , 2014

Image from personal collection of Colony Little
(Left to Right) Graham Erwin, I am a Monster! 2012 ; Ralph Ziman, Mbara Bara, 2014

How do you think that collecting contributes to the artistic community?

Patrons are the fuel that keep artistic communities running.  I’m inspired by creative collectives of artists, writers, designers, musicians and collectors that build synergies to support one another. During the past 5 years, L.A. has seen an artistic evolution taking place among creatives that drove the growth of the Arts District.  This in turn has resulted in a huge uptick in gallery openings there.  In my early years of writing and collecting I found the gallery system exclusive and limiting, but now those barriers to access are slowly disappearing as technology and media encourage galleries to create more open and (somewhat) democratic spaces for building communities.  Additionally, artist-run spaces are cultivating stronger bonds among artists, the community and future collectors. For example, I love what’s happening in Leimert Park--the Hammer Museum has partnered with artist Mark Bradford at Art + Practice and I’m also inspired by Michelle Papillion’s groundbreaking work at Papillion.   

Your career as an arts writer has allowed you the opportunity to discover many established and emerging artists. Has there been a situation where your career lead you to collecting art from a new artist or a similar experience?

When I worked in the insurance industry roughly 1/3 of the business my company produced came from high net worth individuals, and many of them were collectors of fine art.  This afforded me opportunities to interact with collectors, artists and galleries at fairs.  In the early years of Culture Shock Art I would use the blog to research and write about artists that I collected or wanted to collect.  Now that I’m writing exclusively, my wish list of art to collect has grown but my bank account hasn’t!  With that said, there is fantastic art that can be had at any price point. I’m amazed at the growth rate of art purchased on-line in the past few years.  Also, events like L.A.’s Incognito at the old Santa Monica Museum of Art (now known as the ICA and is moving downtown) are a good example of leveling the playing field between emerging and established collectors. 

Incognito was a fundraising event disguised as a fun artistic experiment--hundreds of works of art donated by emerging and well known artists were placed on display, each piece priced the same.  The catch was that the identity of the artist was hidden, so you could potentially walk away with an Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari or Catherine Opie if you were lucky.  At the end of the day there was no wrong choice because you were ideally basing your decision on instinct and love for the piece.  That’s how we came to own a work by Rena Small.  It is one of my favorite photographs because my husband chose it and he was not familiar with her work at all.  Years later we were at the Norton Simon museum and he came across one of her photos of Basquiatthat was part of her “Artists Hands” series in 1985.  Moments of serendipity lead us to beautiful discoveries!

 Rena Small,  Untitled , 2012

Rena Small, Untitled, 2012

What are your favorite resources for discovering new artists?

Hands down Instagram! You can find me @cultureshockart

It has been an amazing platform to virtually interact with artists while getting a behind the scenes look into their lives and their process.  Many of the relationships I’ve cultivated through Instagram have turned into friendships and great collaborations.  Years later I'm still obsessed with Instagram because it is a convergence of all the things I love (art, coffee, handbags, records, photography and dogs). To satisfy my wanderlust, I’ll follow someone like photographer Rick Poon and for creative inspiration I love fashion designers like Duro Olowu and Reuben Reul.  Kim Drew @museummammy curates amazing work by black artists on her blog Black Contemporary Art.  My queen of kawai is Hana Kim @supahcute who introduced me to some amazing work by Martin Hsu (@martinhsuart) and for a shot of pure colorful joy, I love the photography of Kimberly Genevieve (@kimgenevieve).  Another great resource for collectors is One Art Nation.  They have a very informative video series on topics ranging from the art market to protecting your collection.  

 Yoichi Kawamura,  Untitled , 2012

Yoichi Kawamura, Untitled, 2012

Do you have any advice for emerging or aspiring art collectors?

Collectors are largely driven by status, investment or love for the art.  Always stick with love and your instincts! One of the goals of my blog is to make art accessible for my readers because many close friends and family struggle with contemporary art and feel that it is intimidating.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Whether I’m in a museum, gallery, art fair or a studio I don’t try to make sense of everything I see.  I simply trust my gut and ask questions.  What are you drawn to?  What does the piece remind you of?  Does the work make you happy, sad, angry, confused? Allow yourself to go with those simple questions and keep asking why.  If I find myself thinking about a piece days after I’ve seen it, I know I am onto an artist or work that I want to learn about and explore more deeply.   

Learn more about Colony Little and Culture Shock Art
Are you an emerging or established art collector and interested in being featured? Email Rachael at rachael@crusadeforart.org

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Collector Scoop: Joshua Farr

Collector Scoop is a series of interviews and features on emerging and established art collectors. Today, we had a conversation with Vermont Center for Photography gallery director Joshua Farr about how he got into collecting art.

Can you share your background with us and how you got into collecting art? Do you remember the first piece of art that you bought?

I feel almost as though I've sort of stumbled into collecting photographs. You could say it's a side-effect of my job!

Backing up a little bit... I attended the NH Institute of Art for my BFA in Photography, graduating in 2011. My time there certainly helped build a foundation of understanding of both the technical aspects of photography as well as my exposure to many historic and contemporary artists. Since 2011, I have been working as the Gallery Director at the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro, VT. The last 5 years of working at VCP has really exposed me to a whole new world of arts management and curatorial endeavors. The process of jurying exhibitions and seeking new work for our gallery walls each month inevitably exposes me to a diverse array of work.

I can't recall which was the first piece I actually bought, but perhaps the one piece which most inspired me to start actively collecting work is a large portrait given to me by photographer Siri Kaur of a young female wrestler titled "Kristie". (*Photo attached*) This piece holds both a stunning glow of color, creating such a technically beautiful print, as well as a beautiful capture of her subject. The combination of the color, the subjects stark expression, and the simplicity of composition triggered an emotional response in me.

 

  Siri Kaur ,  Kristie , 2007

Siri Kaur, Kristie, 2007

How do you think that collecting contributes to the artistic community?

Collecting artwork seems to me to be a win-win scenario on many levels. When an individual walks into a gallery and decides to purchase a piece they want to take home with them, they are not only supporting the artist financially, they are also supporting the gallery or institution that is hosting the exhibition (which, one would hope, would then support said gallery's ongoing efforts of sharing additional fine works in the future) - and of course, the buyer is also benefiting via a beautiful new piece to add to their home or place of business.

I happen to live in a town with boundless enthusiasm for the arts - which is crucial - but I often see artists struggle because I feel like there is not enough of a buyer-population. I often find myself grappling with the general principles of how many artists price their work simply because I see the time, energy, materials and thought put into the creation of ones work, which can give merit to some of the prices you see work listed at today - however, I feel like it is important for artwork to be accessible by individuals of all financial abilities and for the arts market to not become an elitist or exclusive community.

Do you feel that the notion of collecting art can be intimidating or inaccessible to the general public? If so, how do you think that barrier can be lowered?

As I mentioned in my previous response, I do feel like collecting artwork frequently comes across as intimidating or inaccessible to the general public! Particularly for younger individuals who many not have the means to walk into a gallery and buy a piece off the wall. I'm not sure I have any immediate suggestions or thoughts as to how to actively seek to lower that barrier, but I will say that the majority of folks I have chatted with or spent time with who consider themselves to be collectors have simply decided to make collecting a priority for themselves. I feel like many things as far as our day to day lifestyle and financial abilities come down to priorities. Would you rather purchase a $5 latte every morning for a year, or that that nearly $2000/yr and invest it in artwork? With that said, I do realize that no matter what your priorities are, there are still going to be financial limitations for some of us, myself included. I feel like this is where creative trade & bartering skills can come into play! I've done numerous print swaps with professors, friends, and other artists whose work I admire and I feel like this can be a very non-intimidating approach to getting the ball rolling. You don't (and shouldn't) need to be wealthy to be a collector.

What are your favorite resources for discovering new artists?

I would have to say that one of my largest sources of exposure to new artists has been the juried exhibitions we have hosted at the Vermont Center for Photography. Often times, these calls for entry bring together hundreds of photographers from around the globe, each submitting a sampling of their work for consideration for the exhibit - and even if their work is not selected overall for the show, I do keep a running list of photographers whose work I've come across who I would like to follow up with at some point in the future or at least make mental note to keep tabs on their work. I have been known to find myself tumbling through artists websites after seeing a sampling of their work as a submission for a juried show and wanting to see more. Invariably, their sites have links to other friends sites, and I very quickly get sucked deep into the corners of the world-wide web!

In addition to juried shows, there's always social media (Facebook & Instagram primarily). We are living in an increasingly digital era and it's nearly impossible for me to scroll 3'' through my Facebook or Instagram feed without stumbling upon either a new artist who I wasn't previously familiar with, or new work by someone whom I was already familiar with.

  Joshua Farr's home  - image provided by Joshua Farr

Joshua Farr's home - image provided by Joshua Farr

Do you have any advice for emerging or aspiring art collectors?

I would simply encourage any aspiring collectors to collect what they love. Collect work that moves you emotionally. I can't always explain what it is about every single piece that I own that keeps me coming back to it, but I know that every single piece that I own has triggered some level of raw emotional response from me. Personally, I never acquire or hold onto work because of it's monetary value (or potential future value) - doing so would feel too removed for me - removed from the beauty of the image as simply that...an image - or idea, rather than as an object or possession.

Learn more about Joshua Farr and the Vermont Center for Photography.

Are you an emerging or established art collector and interested in being featured? Email Rachael at rachael@crusadeforart.org

 

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Collecting Stories Part 6: To Theme or Not to Theme?

This series chronicles my (and I hope soon others') journey to becoming an art collector, with the goal of demystifying the whole concept of collecting. As you will see, I do not have an art history background, and I do not have Picassos covering my walls. There are just pieces of art that I love, and I buy them. That is collecting. See? Not so scary.

Previous installments in this series discussed how I started buying art, some embarrassing early purchases, how I learned about editioning, and building relationships with the artists I collect. In this post, I'd like to talk about themes in art collections. Many collectors I know have themes they collect within as a way to narrow their focus - photographs of musicians, black and white street photography, still lifes. . . anything really. Some may focus on a very specific time range and origin (1890-1920 American paintings, for example). But can you collect without a theme?

Hells yes. My theme has been the "everything I love" theme. And it is diverse, because my tastes range from straight documentary-style portraits to dreamy, etherial images to just about anything that makes me feel something. However, over time I have realized there are some types of images I am drawn to over and over again. My former gallery manager once pointed out my over-the-top affinity for forlorn women and birds. I also love beds and windows and intense portraits, often of rough-around-the-edges men. I don't only collect these things, I just tend to be drawn to them. I do have a bird room though (after my husband said, "can you at least put all of that bird sh*t in one place?").

  an recent image of a wall in my bird room (rearranged constantly),   featuring Joshua Meier , Rachel Chabot, Tristan Spinski, Christian Bradley West, Angela Bacon Kidwell (x2), Kathleen Robbins, John Bohannon,   not pictured: Keith Carter, Randi Lynn Beach

an recent image of a wall in my bird room (rearranged constantly), featuring Joshua Meier , Rachel Chabot, Tristan Spinski, Christian Bradley West, Angela Bacon Kidwell (x2), Kathleen Robbins, John Bohannon, not pictured: Keith Carter, Randi Lynn Beach

I love white on white or mostly white images, and I recently realized I had quite a few of these and/or snow photographs. Recognizing a mini-theme, I decided to hang several of them together, similar to my bird room.

 clockwise from top left: Ben Huff, Sarah Moore, Sarah Moore, Daniel Coburn, Maureen Drennan (waiting on another piece. . .)

clockwise from top left: Ben Huff, Sarah Moore, Sarah Moore, Daniel Coburn, Maureen Drennan (waiting on another piece. . .)

And then when I purchased my beloved David Hilliard, Anna Walker Skillman (owner of Jackson Fine Art) suggested I hang other photos with kids in them (seems I had a bunch of those too) on the wall with it.

  counter-clockwise from the top left: Brandon Thibodeaux, Mark Steinmetz, Daniel Coburn, Daniel Coburn, Joshua Meier, Mark Steinmetz, David Hilliard

counter-clockwise from the top left: Brandon Thibodeaux, Mark Steinmetz, Daniel Coburn, Daniel Coburn, Joshua Meier, Mark Steinmetz, David Hilliard

So don't get hung up on rules. Just buy what you love!

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Ben Huff & S. Gayle Stevens beauties en route to fifty lucky shareholders!

And the photos keep coming for fifty lucky CSA shareholders! Ben Huff created an 11x14 landscape that looks like magic, and S. Gayle Stevens created 50 unique tintypes for shareholders. 

Jealous? Make sure to sign up for our email newsletter to be the first to know when the next round goes on sale!

  Peterson Creek, Juneau, Alaska 2014  by Ben Huff

Peterson Creek, Juneau, Alaska 2014 by Ben Huff

  Queen Anne's Lace, 2014  - 3x3 original tintypes by S. Gayle Stevens

Queen Anne's Lace, 2014 - 3x3 original tintypes by S. Gayle Stevens

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First two photographs for the second round CSA are out in the world!

The CSA (Crusade Supported Art) program perfectly fits our mission. It cultivates new collectors and connects emerging photographers to them. BAM! We were thrilled that this second round sold out in days, just like the first. And we couldn't be more excited about the six photographers who are creating work for the 50 new shareholders.

Last week we shipped out the first two photographs (shareholders receive two photographs every other month for half a year), and I think you'll agree that they are beauties!

  Winter's Breath, 2014  by Angela Bacon Kidwell

Winter's Breath, 2014 by Angela Bacon Kidwell

  I Was There With Her, 2014  by Amy Friend

I Was There With Her, 2014 by Amy Friend

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Final 1st Round CSA Photographs Shipped!

And we wrapped this up with a bang! The final two (out of six) photographs for the first round Crusade Supported Art program shipped on Friday. Thomas Jackson created one of his awesome in-the-landscape installations, and Joshua Meier made a stunning photogravure.

  Tape no. 1  by Thomas Jackson

Tape no. 1 by Thomas Jackson

  Only So Much  by Joshua Meier

Only So Much by Joshua Meier

And then, just because he's a rockstar, Joshua created these unique folios with sealed leaves on the cover. 

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Collecting Stories Part 4: Yossi Milo and the Tree

This series chronicles my (and I hope soon others') journey to becoming an art collector, with the goal of demystifying the whole concept of collecting. As you will see, I do not have an art history background, and I do not have Picassos covering my walls. There are just pieces of art that I love, and I buy them. That is collecting. See? Not so scary.

  Tree #2, 2006  by Myoung Ho Lee, image I originally fell in love with at Yossi Milo Gallery

Tree #2, 2006 by Myoung Ho Lee, image I originally fell in love with at Yossi Milo Gallery

In the previous installment of this series, I talked about my first art purchases - pieces bought on trips and at local art festivals, as well as an embarrassing mistake, er. . . learning experience. I still buy art in these ways, but I am a lot more discriminate. 

I suppose my next "step" as a collector was an "almost" gallery experience. I was visiting my best friend from college in New York, and we spent a few hours walking around the Chelsea galleries. Living in New York, I think the gallery-going, cultural immersion was a lot more natural for him. For me, it was overwhelming, confusing, and totally fun. I still remember some of the shows we saw.

We walked into Yossi Milo's gallery, and I saw some photographs by Myoung Ho Lee. Loved. Drooled. Looked at the pricing sheet. Couldn't afford. One of his images had just been on the cover of Art News (or Art Forum?). He finds a tree in its natural environments and erects a white backdrop behind it. He later removes the support wires for the backdrop in photoshop, but the rest is untouched. If you want to read more about his work, here is a NYTimes article, and this is a write up on LensCulture (apparently LensCulture was the first to publish the work online, in 2007).

 behind the scenes

behind the scenes

After I went home, I googled. I found a few of his prints in a special sale from LensCulture online. At the time, I was only slightly familiar with LensCulture, and to my knowledge, they only offered a few of these special edition print sales. The photograph I wanted was available for $1100 from LensCulture (I think it started at $5000 or $6000 at the gallery). Even at the LensCulture price, this was a big purchase for us, and we thought about it for a while. Finally, we made the plunge, and it is still one of my favorite photographs.

Only much later, after I began collecting more photography, did I realize why the LensCulture print was so much more affordable than the same image from Yossi Milo (sorry Yossi!). It was because the LensCulture print was in an edition of 30 (the regular edition the gallery was selling was an edition of 6, I believe). So again, more learning. #artisawesome

  Tree #5, 2007  by Myoung Ho Lee, photograph I own from a special edition

Tree #5, 2007 by Myoung Ho Lee, photograph I own from a special edition

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CSA Photographer Interview: Jennifer Greenburg

In June we launched an art CSA, which sold out in just two days. Six photographers were commissioned to make an image in an edition of 50, and we sold 50 shares. Shareholders receive an original, signed and numbered photograph from each of the six commissioned photographers. A few weeks ago we shipped the second two photographs to shareholders, and last week we sold out of shares for our second round CSA, again in just days!! 

The above photograph, Of course we all wanted to look like Peggy Castle at the Wagons West Party, 2014 by Jennifer Greenburg, is one of the two most recent shipped to shareholders. Jennifer talks briefly about her CSA experience in this interview with us:

 

Had you heard of an art CSA before? What were your impressions of the idea?

I had heard of an art CSA but only within the confines of the history of early 20th Century photography.  Breathing the breath of the 21st Century into the concept excited me instantly.  I am delighted to have been part of this first incarnation. I am interested in participating in almost anything that moves the way we think, use and interact with photographs forward!  

 

What about the program made you interested in being one of the participating artists?

I make work in order to facilitate a conversation with my audience.  If my work only exists in a flat file drawer in my studio,  then I might as well have not made anything in the first place. I own the work of other artists for the same reason.  I want to wake up in the morning and be reminded, visually, of something that I find important.   One of my most cherished possessions is a print of Wall Street,  New York, 1915 by Paul Strand.  It was my first art purchase.  I had been studying and teaching the work of Paul Strand for fifteen years when Aperture made an edition of an image that most resonated with me available for sale.  I jumped at the chance knowing that, even though it felt a little expensive,  all I had to do was skip a few meals out and a pair of shoes I probably did not need in the first place to make it happen.  That photograph had held an important place in my development as an artist, adult and educator.  It warranted a physical place in my daily life.  I hope that my work will be owned by someone who will find it meaningful, and this program opens up the door for that to potentially happen. 

 

How has your experience been so far, and what else do you hope will come as a result of participating?

The experience has been fantastic.  I was so pleased when the shares sold out so quickly– the instant demand really gave the program incredible validation. 

I hope that participating will allow my work to get into the hands of new collectors who might not have been familiar with my work or into the hands of those who have previously worried about the idea of collecting. Buying art is an extremely intimidating process due to a variety of factors, not the least of which is the expense!  I hope that this program will encourage new buyers to support artists through collecting.  The CSA has made it both affordable and painless for many to begin.  And sometimes offering a first step is all it takes!

 

Please tell us about the piece you created and how it fits within your larger body of work.

The piece I created for the CSA is called,  Of course we all wanted to look like Peggy Castle at the Wagons West Party, 2014.  It is part of my larger series,  Revising History.  Revising History is a series of manufactured images created by replacing the individuals in vintage found-negatives with images of myself. I reference the gestures within the original image as a means of taking ownership of that moment. I appropriate the mood and emotions of each event, becoming a musician, a mother, a corpse– even though I am none of those things. My work is a performance that results in a series of manufactured photographs that are inherently counterfeit.  

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Collecting Stories Part 3: Art Festivals and My Most Embarrassing Purchase

This series chronicles my (and I hope soon others') journey to becoming an art collector, with the goal of demystifying the whole concept of collecting. As you will see, I do not have an art history background, and I do not have Picassos covering my walls. There are just pieces of art that I love, and I buy them. That is collecting. See? Not so scary.

 Ferruzzi print purchased in Italy from the artist's studio, and it still hangs in our house, even though it is pretty different from most of our other art.

Ferruzzi print purchased in Italy from the artist's studio, and it still hangs in our house, even though it is pretty different from most of our other art.

In my last post, I talked about growing up in an art-filled home. Most of the pieces were by local artists, and my parents have a very different aesthetic than I do. But when my husband and I got married, we began going to local art festivals and finding original pieces by local artists for our own home. When we were in Italy on our honeymoon, we popped into a bunch of small galleries and bought a few pieces, noticing that the prices were very reasonable and often they were more artist studios than traditional galleries, so meeting the artist and buying directly was part of the whole experience.

In the interest of being transparent and giving you some insight into how buying art is an evolution of learning and experimentation, I will share with you my most embarrassing art buying experience. Gulp. 

So sometime during this phase of first purchases and art festivals, we bought a gallery wrap canvas of some famous painting from a kiosk in the middle of the mall. Yep. That happened. And we didn't even realize it was a famous painting, we just thought the scene was nice. A year or so later I figured it out, gave it away, and try to forget that even happened. The point is, we learn and grow and change our tastes. It's all part of the fun.

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New CSA Photographs Shipped (Plus: how do we pick the photographers?)

If you were one of the lucky fifty who snagged a share of the first Crusade Supported Art (CSA) round, start checking your mailbox. The second shipment of prints are heading your way! And if you didn't pull the trigger quickly enough (the shares sold out in two days), here's a peek at what postal workers around the country are delivering.

What is this CSA you may be asking? This should explain it:

Back to the art! This Kerry Mansfield photograph was one of the two just sent to shareholders.

 from Kerry Mansfield's "Expired" series

from Kerry Mansfield's "Expired" series

I have been asked a lot about how the photographers are selected for the CSA. Fortunately, I see a lot of photography! Between portfolio reviews, online resources and photography festivals, I am able to keep a running list of photographers to watch and hopefully work with. (Have I told you I love my job?) 

Kerry Mansfield is a photographer I originally saw on Fraction Magazine and then met at a small portfolio review in San Francisco. As a result, I began representing her at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery. Since closing the gallery at the end of 2013, I still keep close watch on my people, and Kerry is a superstar. I mean, just look at this insert she included with her CSA photograph:

I first met Jennifer Greenburg in Lishui, China in 2011. I was one of the curators for a photography festival there, and Jennifer was an artist one of the other curators put in the show. But it wasn't until last year at Filter Photo Festival in Chicago that I got a deeper look at her work. She gave a fantastic artist talk at Schneider Gallery, who was doing a big exhibit of her Revising History project (the same project this CSA photograph is part of). The work is clever and fun and technically exceptional. From her project description, "Revising History is a series of manufactured images that I have created by replacing the individuals in vintage found-negatives with images of myself". I have loved working with her (she's the blond below).

  Of course we all wanted to look like Peggy Castle at the Wagon West Party, 2014  by Jennifer Greenburg

Of course we all wanted to look like Peggy Castle at the Wagon West Party, 2014 by Jennifer Greenburg

If you missed the first two photographs, check them out here. And if you want to get in on the action for the next CSA round, keep your eyes (and inbox) peeled next month. Not on our email list? Shame. Run and do that here.

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Collecting Stories Part 2: Humble Beginnings

 my parents' house (photo courtesy of my mom, Katy Yoffy)

my parents' house (photo courtesy of my mom, Katy Yoffy)

My parents’ house is filled with art, and my husband’s parents’ house is filled with art. Although neither home has any available wall space, I am pretty sure they don’t identify as art collectors. I have never asked, but I think this is because they purchase all of their art from local festivals and on trips as opposed to working with galleries and having any sort of contemporary trend-informed collecting strategy. I disagree. They buy original art they love, often directly from the artists. Their walls are covered with a wide variety of art that reflects their style, taste, and memories.

So without any real discussion, my husband and I started looking for art in the same ways when we began living together. Our style is very different from either of our parents’. My parents' house is filled with bright, bold art. The majority of the interior has a pink cast from a neon light piece in the great room. My in-laws’ color palate is diametrically opposed to mine. They love what I call “Santa Fe” colors and detest blue and green. Who hates blue? It boggles the mind. But alas, we both grew up with art covering every square inch of our homes, and we set out to do the same.

But while we knew we were not looking for art in the styles we grew up around, we were not sure what we did want. Although we both have a liberal arts degree, neither of us studied art or art history, and we did not have enough experience looking at art to be able to definitively hone in on our aesthetic. I think this is where most people get stuck. They are not confident in their taste due to lack of experience or knowledge, and they are afraid to commit to a purchase. Understandable. But not insurmountable. My advice is to go with what speaks to you, and you can always change your mind later. Art can be a forever purchase, but it doesn’t have to be.

For example.

Our first major art purchase was off of a restaurant wall. There used to be a very strange restaurant in the Buckhead area of Atlanta called Café Tu Tu Tango. The walls were covered with 300-400 paintings (all for sale), and while you ate tapas, salsa dancers may spring up next to you for some live entertainment. Anyway, we fell in love with an oil painting of irises that cost $400. We spent a weekend trying to figure out how we could swing it financially, finally deciding it would be worth months of ramen noodles for dinner to have it.

 Cafe Tu Tu Tango

Cafe Tu Tu Tango

We bought it and loved it for years, prominently displayed on our mantle. And while it is perfectly lovely, our tastes have evolved, and it is now hanging in the basement playroom, directly in the line of fire of any number of art-destroying kid contraptions. But there is nothing wrong with that. We definitely got $400 worth of enjoyment out of it, and it set us on a path of wanting to surround ourselves with beautiful things (note the blues and greens!).

 terrible iphone picture of the Irises, but then again, it does now hang in a basement playroom without windows

terrible iphone picture of the Irises, but then again, it does now hang in a basement playroom without windows

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Collecting Stories, Part 1: This is going to be fun!

Two different people have reached out to me in the last couple of weeks, wanting my advice on starting an art collection. Both feel passionately about becoming collectors (music to my crusading ears!), but they each feel a little intimidated and unsure of where or how to begin.

First of all, I love that they want to self-identify as collectors. So many people feel uncomfortable with the term, and I was advised by many people to take it out of the name of my 2013 tour (Crusade for Collecting). But I say, be a collector and be proud. We all collect something, and collecting something does not require you to be an expert about it. It just means you have several things that fall into the same category (and art is the best category ever, duh), and that you actively seek these things out. I once introduced a friend as a collector (among other descriptors), and he waved it off with a “well, I wouldn’t go that far”. Really? Because he owns multiple Cartier-Bresson photographs, among other beauties. How far do you need to go?

When I talk to someone who wants to know more about collecting, I typically start with my own collecting story. I think it’s helpful to hear some of the truly embarrassing early “acquisitions” and how we (my husband and I) gradually learned more, not just about the art, but also about our own tastes. Then I like to walk people through our collection, because I think it’s eclectic and a good mix of known and unknown, and most of the work is affordable (and awesome).

And so, I am going to try to do the same thing here on the blog. Hopefully it will help demystify collecting a bit, and if nothing else, the early stories are sure to entertain. So stay tuned. This is going to be fun.

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The Big Reveal: Art CSA's First Photographs!

If you were one of the lucky 50 shareholders of the first round of Crusade Supported Art, you got some awesomeness in the mail last week! We shipped the first two original photographs, one by Shane Lavalette and the other by Heather Evans Smith. It was mighty challenging keeping these beauties under wraps, but the surprise is part of the fun!

Now that the secret is out, we can let everyone in on the big reveal:

 "Reliquary" by Heather Evans Smith from the series "Seen Not Heard". Created for the CSA as a 12x18" image printed on 13x19" paper.

"Reliquary" by Heather Evans Smith from the series "Seen Not Heard". Created for the CSA as a 12x18" image printed on 13x19" paper.

 "Ready to Roll" by Shane Lavalette. Created for the CSA as a 15x12" image printed on 19x15" paper.

"Ready to Roll" by Shane Lavalette. Created for the CSA as a 15x12" image printed on 19x15" paper.

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Museums Coming to Your Morning

In our quest to find innovate ways to bring art to the public, we must share news about Art Everywhere US.  Art Everywhere US stemmed from Richard Reed’s Art Everywhere movement, and began in Great Britain with the production of Art Everywhere UK, whose mission is “to share the nation's favourite art with as many people as possible…”  Similarly, Art Everywhere US aims to bring “the biggest art exhibition in history” to the United States this summer, displaying 58 great American works of art throughout the 50 states.  These works of art, offered by 5 leading American art institutions, will be reproduced and displayed in public spaces, including outdoor billboards, bus stops, subway platforms, street furniture, movie theaters, and more.  According to their press release, the idea is to transform these spaces “into a free, open-air art gallery across the country.”

Public vote chose the final 58 artworks, out of 100 artworks nominated by the contributing museums. Five of the chosen artworks are photographs – Erwin Smith’s Frank Smith, Watering His Horse, Cross B-Ranch, Crosby County, Texas, c. 1909, Imogen Cunningham’s Magnolia Blossom, 1925, Margaret Bourke-White’s World’s Highest Standard of Living, 1937, Robert Mapplethorpe’s Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, 1984, and Cindy Sherman’s Untitled, 2008Each museum was able to nominate 20 artworks, tasked with choosing pieces that would span the history of the US and paint a picture of the history of American art.  The Art Everywhere US website says, “All in all, the 100 works in Art Everywhere US bring us face to face with the story of our nation, told by the visionaries who captured our essence at the time they lived and worked, and who to this day compel us to find our place in the evolving story of America.”

The big kick off party starts August 4th in Times Square, where all selected artworks will be displayed on digital billboards.  The exhibition will continue for the following four weeks, as the works of art will be installed on various platforms across the nation.

As this is the first year this is being put together in the US, and only the second year the show has collectively run, I look forward to its potential as a means to educate and inspire more people to visit not just museums, but galleries as well.  In my opinion, the more artwork that can get in front of the public eye, the better.  Hopefully the movement will stir thought and conversation, and possibly lead to the inclusion of local art galleries and artists instead of just nationally renowned artists and museums.  At the very least, the program will bring some culture to our transit hubs and potentially inspire a few people’s morning commute.

The initiative stems from a collaboration between five prominent American museums – the Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC – and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) and its members, along with artists, estates, foundations, and rights agencies.

Maxwell L. Anderson, the Eugene McDermott Director, Dallas Museum of Art, spoke for all five museum when he stated, “Art Everywhere US is giving our museums the ability to reach a vast new audience in a fresh and entirely accessible way. We’re literally changing the American landscape with art, and offering people everywhere the opportunity to learn about America’s artistic treasures, past and present.”

Let’s hope everyone stops texting and looks around.

 "Untitled, 2008" by Cindy Sherman

"Untitled, 2008" by Cindy Sherman

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10 Surprising Facts About Art Collecting Trends, via Artnet News

This article via Artnet News gives some really interesting data points on collecting. Article reposted below (the emphasis on #8 is my own!), and original article can be found here.

The art world is constantly talking about “collectors” but—except for a few recognized personalities—they remain rather elusive creatures, often preferring anonymity to the limelight.

Art insurer AXA Art has attempted to strip away the mystery with their International Collectors Survey, published to coincide with TEFAF 2014. Titled Collecting in the Digital Age, it bases its results on an online survey of 1,000 collectors. (All are clients or potential clients of AXA Arts global network.)

Here, the 10 facts that surprised us most:

1. Online buying has a long way to go TEFAF’s annual report claims that online sales are growing at a dizzying 25 percent annually, but not all collectors are convinced. Only 34 percent of the respondents to the survey have purchased artworks online in the past, and 42 percent simply don’t see the point, saying that they couldn’t see themselves buy online in the future.

2. This is a man’s world—and an old man’s world at that While Dasha Zhukova is a front page favorite, she is nothing like the average collector. Three quarters of the surveyed collectors were male, and 73 percent aged 40-69. Art-lovers under 29 make up only 3 percent of the collectors surveyed.

3. Forget Frieze Masters, contemporary art is where it’s at Older art seems to be all the rage—and the trend has been embraced by art fairs, spearheaded by Frieze Masters. Yet collectors overwhelmingly favor contemporary art (82 percent). Only 12 percent purchase antique art. 39 percent go for modern and Impressionist, followed by 19th century art.

4. On the other hand, those who collect as an investment tend to go for safe value (i.e. older art) If substantial return is what you are after, it seems that “tried and tested” is the way to go. 43 percent of the collectors who defined themselves as investors purchase modern and Impressionist art as well as contemporary art. The returns are generally lower than with rising stars—but so are the chances of a market crash.

5. Installation and video art are not that hot You wouldn’t know looking at some art fair offerings, but only 14 percent of collectors go for video art and installation. The overwhelming majority (nine out of ten) collect painting, and more than half go for works on paper. Easy-to-hang remains a strong criterion.

6. Art advisors are less influential than they pretend When buying, collectors rely little on external advice (paid for or not). 65 percent collect on “gut instinct” and only 21 percent use the services of an art consultant.

7. Conceptual art dominates the art world but collectors love pretty things We might have thought that things had changed since the days of the Medici, and that the strength and relevance of a conceptual piece might woo collectors just as much as its appearance. Not one bit. According to the survey, 80 percent of collectors say they buy art because “they love to own beautiful things and to surround themselves with them.” “Occupying myself with art and developing a comprehensive knowledge of art” comes second.

8. Photography is a favorite Often considered a poor cousin of fine art and with still relatively-few galleries dedicated exclusively to the medium, photography is faring well with collectors. It’s their fourth choice after painting, works on paper, and sculpture.

9. Critics matter—but only a little bit more than Twitter Who said art publishing was in a dire state? According to the survey 58 percent of collectors turn to printed media, trade journals, newspapers, and books while seeking information on the art they purchase. Social media are not far behind, faring a solid 51 percent. It is worth noting that less than half the respondents said they found articles about trends on the art market and the value of particular objects relevant. What they want instead is information on individual artists.

10. It’s not all about art fairs While 95 percent of collectors go to art fairs and see them as a key source of information, an overwhelming majority, 73 percent, still prefer the personal service they get when buying in a gallery.

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Art's Barriers to Entry

Untitled by Matsumi Kanemitsu, 1969
Untitled by Matsumi Kanemitsu, 1969

I recently spoke to the Atlanta Art Forum - a fantastic group of art collectors who bring in speakers from all over the country to educate them on different aspects of art and collecting. The talk was held at Kendall Fine Art, where art from all genres and mediums covered the walls. Before it started, this piece by Matsumi Kanemitsu caught my eye, and Matt Kendall told me a bit about the artist and the type of piece (sumi ink on paper).

I asked the price, and he told me, but I had no idea if that was a good value or not. Although I collect photography, I know nothing about this type of art or the movement of artists this represents, and honestly, it's overwhelming. I just like it. But should I buy something without knowing the context or value?

This experience related directly to the talk I gave minutes later. I spoke about the importance of cultivating a new crop of art collectors and ways Crusade for Art is tackling this challenge. I also spoke about the perceptual barriers to entry to engaging with and buying art.

First, many people feel intimidated by art and the traditional art experience (galleries and museums).  Their inexperience with art (the second barrier) makes them feel they do not know enough to participate with art and purchase it. And finally, there are misperceptions that art is not affordable or accessible.

I made this powerpoint slide, and since I'm not a graphic designer, this was a major accomplishment, so I feel compelled to share:

barriers to entry
barriers to entry

Art absolutely can be intimidating - a lot of new things are. But our challenge is to bring people into art in a way that is engaging and fun, because once you get over the hump, the other side is pretty spectacular.

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Art Is a Therapeutic Medium

I have long felt that art can add value to your life in a way that is unique and powerful.  I think most art-lovers would agree.  It's why it's hard to understand why someone wouldn't have art in their life.  Why wouldn't you want to surround yourself with things that can make you feel. . . everything.  The closest example I can give is the way music can make you think and feel, no matter what kind you like. So when I read this article in The Guardian about art as therapy, it struck a chord.  The author, Alain de Botton, says, "I believe art is ultimately a therapeutic medium, just like music. It, too, is a vehicle through which we can do such things as recover hope, dignify suffering, develop empathy, laugh, wonder, nurture a sense of communion with others and regain a sense of justice and political idealism."  Agreed.

Art-beautiful1.jpg

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Ones2Watch with Atlanta Celebrates Photography

Atlanta Celebrates Photography is an organization that kills it year round for photography. Not only is the MONTH-LONG (which actually starts in September and goes into November, because there is so much programming) festival overwhelmingly stellar, ACP programs year-round and it a huge reason Atlanta's photography culture is so robust.  Ten years strong. . . hot damn. While ACP is celebrating it's 10th year, the annual gala auction benefit has been happening for five. There is an exciting live auction, led by Denise Bethel from Sotheby's, where inevitably you get swept up in the moment and wave a paddle you previously had no intention of raising.  There is also a silent auction with a variety of items (was so bummed to be outbid on the Martin Parr faces paperweight) and a selection of ten framed photographs from the Ones2Watch section.  For years I have poured over this part of the auction and bid mightily, and this year I was beyond honored to be invited to curate it.

I was asked to select ten photographs from ten photographers who are on the front lines of awesome.  Yes please!  The selection process was so much fun for me, but then seeing all of the pieces lined up on easels with each one framed to best showcase the image (thank you Myott!) was beyond, beyond.  And then to see all the bids flying!

Want an up-close peek at the images?  I thought so. Click on the image to visit the photographer's website.

 Heather Evans Smith

Heather Evans Smith

 Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

 Brandon Thibodeaux

Brandon Thibodeaux

 Clay Lipsky

Clay Lipsky

 Bill Vaccaro

Bill Vaccaro

 Kurt Simonson

Kurt Simonson

 Aline Smithson

Aline Smithson

 Kelly K. Jones

Kelly K. Jones

 Elizabeth Fleming

Elizabeth Fleming

 E. Brady Robinson

E. Brady Robinson

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