Why I Collect

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Carole d'Inverno

Carole d'Inverno is a Seattle-based artist who has had numerous solo and group shows in the United States. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including fellowships and residencies at La Playa (Summer Lake, OR), Willapa Bay Air (Willapa, WA), the Vermont Studio Center, (Johnson, VT), the BAU Institute (Otranto, Italy), Starry Night (Truth or Consequences, NM), and the Wassard Elia Center (Ascea, Italy). She also participated in the 2009 Biennale di Firenze.  Her work is in the public collections of Seattle Group Health, Seattle Swedish Hospital, the Seattle University, and in private collections across the US and Europe.

Artists in her collection include Alden Mason, Cable Griffith, David French, Claude Utley, Terry Turrell, Terry Leness, Goya (a print), Steve Locke, Tia Matthies, Chris Crites, Demi Raven, Mike Disfarmer, Claire Cowie, Kip Kania, Jack Spencer, David Hytone, and some of Carole's work.

What is your first memory of an encounter with art?
I grew up in Italy so the stuff is literally laying around everywhere from old stones to reproductions on the walls of houses...

What was the first piece of art you collected?
A Folon watercolor in 1977...been at it for a long.

Why do you like the kind of art that you buy? What about it satisfies you?
I tend to buy works that inspire me, move me. I love to wake up in the morning and see all the work around the house.

Do you collect with a specific genre or purpose in mind?
No, the only essential is the emotional response.

What would you consider to be the centerpiece of your collection?
Too many...

How do you find the works you collect?
Galleries, art walks, snooping on the net.

What else do you collect?
Puppets, masks, textiles, quilts…

Where do you think your collection will end up?
Not sure...if it’s worth anything we might donate it to an art institution…

Do you budget for art purchases on a schedule or is it usually a purchase inspired by seeing it?
Inspired by seeing it to the great chagrin of my credit card!

Do you document your art? Keep track of its purchase and history?
I am doing that more and more now...

Tel me about one piece in your collection you can’t live without.
I find that now all the pieces talk to each other and make our house what it is...so I can’t really pick.

What is a good ‘gateway drug’ acquisition for a first collector?
Something small, and that brings happiness...the idea that it’s not the only thing you will buy can help choose with more freedom i think...

Is it important for a collector to meet the artist?
Not necessarily...but its always nice to meet the artist. As an artist my self, I love ‘to put a face’ on who buys my work.

Jody Bento

Interview With the Manager of SAM Gallery, Seattle Art Museum

What is your first memory of an encounter with art?

I was born in Seattle, so climbing on the camels at what is now the Asian Art Museum.  

What was the first piece of art you collected? What inspired that purchase?

Ross Palmer Beecher’s print of “Black Monday” from 1993.  I purchased it after September 11, 2001 because it foreshadows the twin tower attack, with imagery of business people “jumping” from the Twin Towers.  It also captivated me that I could afford to have a piece by an artist who is in major art museum collections.  My piece was under $500.

Why do you like the kind of art that you buy? What about it satisfies you?

I love to think about artist intent.  Not only do I enjoy the visual experience of artwork, I’m intrigued by the minds of artists and how they are able to share their world views through representations made by hand.  I believe it’s the highest calling in our culture—both as participants and creators.  We are privileged to be able to think about where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going.

Do you collect with a specific genre or purpose in mind?

No – interestingly I say my favorite style of art is pure abstraction but I tend collect figurative.  I’m not sure why.

What would you consider to be the centerpiece of your collection?

An Untitled painting by Drake Denatel, who is deceased.  Because I work in the arts, I have a modest income and didn’t think I would be able to afford one of his gorgeous abstract paintings.  My piece is bittersweet because I inherited it from a friend’s estate after she passed.  The two of them were close friends and always had a mutual support of each other’s efforts.  Drake mixed his own pigments and my friend Jan was a design diva.  What defines “color” was a frequent topic of theirs in the studio.  The painting is a symbol of the love the three of us have for one another.  

How do you find the works you collect?

At work because I work in an art gallery.

What else do you collect?

Not much – like many baby boomers I’m cutting back and no longer collect physical books, music, photos or memorabilia.  Something from my artwork collection is really the only thing I would try to grab if I was running out of a burning building.

Where do you think your collection will end up?

Friends and family, if I’m lucky.  I’m already starting to give away pieces when people tell me they like something that I no longer have up on my walls.  I recently gave a piece to one of our SAM volunteers because she collects the artist more deeply than I do and I thought the piece would be enjoyed more in her collection.  

Do you budget for art purchases on a schedule or is it usually an impulse purchase?

I keep one payment plan going and do not buy anything new until the balance is paid.

Do you document your art? Keep track of its purchase and history?

Yes.  Everyone needs a spreadsheet listing the details of each piece—Artist, title, medium, year, price, where purchased, and an image.  I mentioned above a friend of mine who died holding a rather large art collection.  She had no inventory and it was a large undertaking for her family to sort it all out while grieving her sudden death.  Do your families a favor and keep track of your 

art!  Most of the time, they don’t know what it is and whether or not it’s valuable.

Tell me about one piece in your collection you can’t live without.

I have a little Fay Jones painting on a sardine can that will go to the old-folks home with me!  It’s 2” by 4” and the sardines are still in the can.  Let’s hope I don’t get so wacky that I eat my art!

Do you ask first-time collectors about their intentions for their purchase, and for the development of a collection?

No, it’s a little like falling in love, in that it’s hard to discuss.  You know how you feel about something but you don’t necessarily have the words to convey those feelings.  I let people get away with saying really vague things like “I love the color” or “I just love the way this makes me feel” or “this makes me happy”.  I figure it’s not a test nor a quiz and so if they want to talk about it with me they will. I find that what I can provide is the artist’s intent and story.  Everyone wants a story with their piece of art, so I try to provide that in an interesting way that they can then turn around and share.

For seasoned collectors, do you ask how this piece fits into their overall vision for their collection?

I don’t.  Sometimes they offer but most of the people I work with would probably feel pressured to come up with an answer.

What are some of the reasons collectors have offered for their acquisition of a piece of art?









Likes the artist personally and wants to support their work

Do you have tips for the first-time collector, especially for those on a limited budget? 

Ask about payment plans and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention renting.  It’s a way to try before you buy and make sure you’re in love.  

Is it important for a collector to meet the artist?

I think people always like to meet artists because, well, they’re interesting people!  I don’t feel it’s a necessary component of collecting art but it’s an interesting side benefit of collecting local!  Support the home team and help me export the message about Northwest art and artists.  We have great art schools here and a community of artists that is ready for an international platform.   Join the fun and support local art and artists!

How to Collect Art Like a Pro - Building a Collection

by Alan Bamberger of ArtBusiness.com

In order to collect art intelligently, you have to master two basic skills. The first is being able to effectively research, evaluate and buy any single work of art that attracts you. The second is being able to choose each individual work in such a way as to form a meaningful grouping, a practice more commonly known as collecting.

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 the long haul, or in other words, building a collection. You can find art you like just about anywhere you look and in an incredible variety of subject matters, mediums and price ranges, but that can be confusing as well as intimidating. So how do you wade through it all and decide what direction to go in? How do you relate one purchase to the next? How do you organize or group your art together? 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.

Great collectors are often as well known and widely respected as the art they collect. Take the Rockefeller collection, the Phillips collection or the Chrysler collection, just to name a few. Collectors like these are famous because they demonstrate just as much talent in selecting and grouping their art as the artists show in creating it. Likewise, each work of art in a great collection commands premium attention as well as a premium price not only because it's good, but also because of the company it keeps.

What makes a great collector great is his or her ability to separate out specific works of art from the millions 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 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 the trends and influence the future of collecting for everyone.

I'll give you an example of how this works on a small scale. For years, I was a specialist dealer in rare and out-of-print art books. Many of my customers were art collectors, dealers, curators and librarians. The best of them spotted art world trends before of the rest of us and requested certain books or catalogues so that they could learn more about that art. In many cases, when I found what they were looking for, I would study it before I sold it, see why they regarded it as significant, advise customers with similar tastes, and locate additional copies for anyone who wanted to follow the lead. So in this instance, those who made the initial requests influenced the makeup of my stock and the direction of my buying as well as that of other collectors.

Regardless of how you view your collecting, whether serious or recreational, there are techniques that you can use to maximize not only the quality and value of your art, but also your own personal enjoyment, appreciation and understanding of that art. Step one is being true to your tastes. This means acknowledging that you like certain types of art regardless of what you think you're supposed to like or what seems to be the current rage. All great collectors share this trait; that's one thing makes their collections stand out. When personal preference is ignored in favor of the status quo, one collection begins to look just like the next. A few people dictate, the masses follow, everyone walks in lock-step, and the art you see from collection to collection becomes boring and repetitive.

Collectors who aren't afraid to express themselves yield exactly the opposite results. Take, for example, the artist who put together a collection of paintings bought exclusively at second hand stores and garage sales, often for little more than a few dollars each. His collection ultimately toured the country and was published as a book. Many of us were not only entertained by it, but it also helped to broaden our definition of what could reasonably be considered art. He taught us that interesting looking art can be found just about anywhere, not only at the major museums or in the best galleries. Now he would never, most likely, have put this collection together if he had chosen to mimic the tastes of others rather than be true to his own. Read the rest of the article

Yonnas Getahun

The Unexpected Gift of Collecting Art

Always Tuesday.  What is it about a Tuesday where the bad news comes a knockin’?  A few weeks ago, amidst my enervating pursuits, twelve hours late, I responded to my aunt's cryptic message to call her. When I did, I received the news, atop the stairs of the 34th floor of Russell Investment building overlooking the ferries gliding across the pond, that my grandmother had passed.

Mind you for me the news was a loss about a loss of a relationship.  A reminder of the sacrifice my parents made, migrating to the states, which I resented in my teen years but ceremoniously Nevermind by Nirvana-consecrated.  The misfit.  The outsider in Spokane. But these thoughts had to wait, I needed to race and deliver, in person, the news to my father.

A knock at his door with the instruction "Baba, sit down." Followed by difficult words, "Your mother has passed."  Since attention is love and vice versa, we spent the next few hours in silence and discourse.  While I had expected my father to fall apart, he brazenly instructed me to return to work.  I kept on with, “What do you need?  Do we need to buy a ticket to Asmara or Los Angeles where auntie is?”  With a calmness and having prepared the best he could for this day he knew was coming, he assured me to return to the procession of life: action.

I returned home to give the heaviness its space and in front of me, the gift most appropriate presented itself. A painting by Seattle Artist Yeggy Michael, which brews in deep mortal bloodied red, in which small figures float wearing Ethiopian traditional clothing with some standing and others riding bicycles.

As replenishing as this painting has been for me, I hoped it would enrich my father.  I never imagined though that this painting, which I directly purchased via payment arrangement from the artist and whose career I have been following for five years, would become a heartfelt gift. As my friend and co-advocate at COLLECT, Elizabeth Hunter-Keller, rightly says, "Jewelry and art never lose value."

Baba hasn't figured out where to place the painting yet. I am not sure he reads the painting like I do, but it served an innumerable value to me, having owned it, to gift it to him.