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.
In the last installment of this series, I wrote about my first thoughtful, considered purchase and what I learned about limited editions. In this one, I want to talk about meeting photographers whose work I collect.
Shortly after purchasing the Myoung Ho Lee photograph, my husband and I were in Boulder for a wedding and stumbled into the contemporary art museum there. It is a small and intimate space, and the first floor had a small photography exhibition. We saw a few photographs by Julie Blackmon and were captivated. We asked for more information at the front desk and looked up her gallery (Catherine Edelman in Chicago) online. One thing I love about this gallery (at this time, unknown to me) is the artist talks they post on their website. It is wonderful to be able to hear the artist speak about his or her own work, and this really influenced the approach I took when I later opened Jennifer Schwartz Gallery.
So we looked and we listened, and we even sent an email to the gallery to inquire about pricing. (As a sidenote, this is something I still find incredibly intimidating. I often recommend artists give a general sense of pricing on their websites, because I think many people will not make an inquiry, because they assume the work is out of their price range or they would be embarrassed to tell the artist they couldn't afford the price, if it was more than they expected it to be). At that time, her work was definitely more expensive than anything we had bought so far, but it was in a reasonable range for us. So we went for it. Called the gallery from our hotel room and bought the piece.
Later, I was going to New Orleans as a portfolio reviewer at PhotoNOLA (this was 2010). I saw that Julie would be there as a guest of the event, and I was dying to meet her. Here is an excerpt from a JSG blog post I wrote just after that weekend:
And then there was Julie Blackmon. When I wrote that, did you see the clouds part and hear angels sing? Because that just happened. I found out by chance that she was going to be at PhotoNOLA this weekend, and after three days of crafting my email to her, I hit send. And despite all of that email crafting, I still sounded like the biggest dork.
Julie’s photograph “Candy” was the first sort of “major” acquisition my husband and I made for our photography collection, and I am in absolute awe of her work. It speaks to me as a mother, as a woman, as an artist. And it’s beautiful and has a sense of humor and relishes in life’s (and mothers’) imperfections.
Despite my dorkiness, Julie replied and accepted my lunch invitation, and we met up Saturday afternoon. She is lovely. She’s sharp and intuitive and real. When she ordered that second glass of Chardonnay I knew I had found a kindred spirit. After a long lunch and a stroll over to A Gallery, we parted ways. Me, with a little tear in my eye.
But as luck (it’s a streak I tell you!) would have it, we ran into each other again that night and decided to gallery hop together. A little Magazine Street (We checked out the group show Lisette de Boisblanc’s work was in – look for her solo show at Jennifer Schwartz Gallery in March. She’s a rock star, and we’re lucky to represent her.), a little Julia Street, and then we headed over to the PhotoNOLA Gala. She was not phased in the slightest when I had to pull out my emergency flip flops and drop my boots off at the hotel on the way. Footwear is a bitch.
Anyway, we were hungry and early for the gala, so we set out on (newly flip-flopped) foot in search of food. The gala happened to be in a pretty random (to me at least) part of town, so we were losing hope of finding anything other than fast-food, when like a ray of sun bursting through the clouds, we saw the hibachi/sushi restaurant. Right next to the Office Depot. With the smell of Japanese stir-fry seeping into our hair, “Wind Beneath My Wings” playing on the radio, and 19-year-old girls in stripper heels, tight dresses and hair shellacked high and large sipping white zinfandel at the bar, Julie Blackmon and I dined. It was magical.
Julie and I have seen each other many times since then and have even worked together a bit. I have not, however, eaten much hibatchi. But that photograph is even more precious to me because of that relationship.