Featured image: Dolls, Andrew Medvedev
We are all “collectors” of art when we purchase works from time to time to enjoy in our homes or offices. Creating a “collection”, however, involves assembling a group of art works that tell a story – and are more valuable as a whole than individually. Sometimes collections are the result of a conscious mission from the first purchase; but, for many of us, the process is evolutionary and serendipitous.
As a young professional in Houston, I was fascinated by the dynamic contemporary arts community. I joined Collectors Club at Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which sponsored talks by curators and dealers, visits to local artist studios and trips to museums, collections and arts events (Collectors Forum sponsored by the Kemper Museum in Kansas City is a similar program). The exposure from Collectors Club led me to begin purchasing small less-expensive graphic works from Houston artists I met.
My career took me from Houston to Moscow in 1992, and, for the next two decades I continued to purchase flat and sculptural items of local contemporary art from artists who were eager to earn a living in a newly commercial environment. At the same time, I fell in love with the antique Caucasian rugs that were plentiful in Russia. The bold colors and tribal geometric patterns of the rugs held the same emotional appeal for me as the contemporary art.
After collecting individual pieces of art for more than 25 years, I realized that my passion for 1990s Russian contemporary art and for antique Caucasian rugs had resulted in the core of two potentially interesting collections. The visual art exemplified the transition from traditional Soviet realism to contemporary social/political expressionism prevalent in Russian art of the 1990s. The rugs throughout my home represented a good cross-section of examples of that tactile art form unique to a small, complex, multi-ethnic region at the intersection of ancient cultures during the transition from the nineteenth to twentieth century.
The idea of collections inspired me to learn more about both groups, and their contexts. The more I learned, the more each collection took shape and purpose. Now, I’m in the fun phase of organizing, documenting, pruning and filling gaps that collections demand.
Submitted by Holly Nielsen, ArtsKC Aperitif Party Host