This past week has been absolutely crazy for me. I planned to be in Lafayette for Thanksgiving and then my Grandfather passed away and I had to fly home to Georgia for the funeral. I have been at my parents house since Thanksgiving day and have really enjoyed some down time and days where I've been able to just be in my own little world tucked away in Mom and Dad's house (I often come here and stay "holed up" for several days at a time without much interaction with the outside world--my idea of heaven!). While I've been here, I have gone through the 1989-93 (my high school years) issues of Southern Accents magazine that my mother has in her den. Going through these old issues has taken me down memory lane and inspired me. In a 1990 issue was a house in Savannah that I was in many times during my early teenage years. It is the wonderful house on Little Comfort Road that Richard and Cindy Moore lived in for many years. My dear friend Paula Parker and I used to love to escape from Claxton to "Miss Cindy's" to drive the golf cart around the Landings (sometimes until it ran out of juice!) and hang out with our Savannah friends and be with our version of Auntie Mame, "Miss Cindy".
After going through these old magazines and feeling so inspired and invigorated by the wonderful Southern houses and collections that I had just discovered (and in the case of the Moore's house, rediscovered) in the glossy pages of a magazine, I sat down to work on this weeks posts of "Southern Art and Design". Maybe it's the "home" mindset that I am in right now, maybe it's the thought of time passing and loss of a family member but I couldn't stop thinking about home, family, my early years....where am I now? what do I love? what am I doing next? where do I live? (in my case, that's a tricky question with a convoluted answer!)
I started thinking about New York and the apartment I have there that I've never really connected with (and yes, I do believe one should connect with where they live and lay their head at night) and what I want to take from that apartment when I leave it behind...and there are only three things that I really care to take with me when I lock the door for the last time...family photographs, books, art....and exactly what art? I have about 40 pieces of art in New York that I will have to do something with eventually. What do I want to make the journey with me to the next place?
My "collection", you see, is an evolving collection that began with a couple of pieces that were gifts. It was exciting at the time to have two or three paintings that were considered fine art. I hung them in my apartment and looked at them every day but I have never had a real connection with them..a connection that a passionate collector feels when they see a photograph or painting or piece of sculpture..a connection that reminds them of something special, a time, a place, a person....
I felt that connection with art for the first time when I saw the photograph titled "Greenwich" (as in Greenwich, CT) by Foster Witt (http://www.fosterwitt.com/) Foster is from Richmond, VA, originally and he and I have many mutual friends. Foster was having his first big show at a gallery in New York. If I remember correctly, the post card announcing the show featured "Greenwich" on it and I was intrigued. I went to the show and there was a small book that featured the piece in it and I was more intrigued. Then I saw the piece hanging on the wall and I was in love..a mad, passionate love...the color, the symbolism (BMW, big diamond, Gucci purse, Lily Pulitzer pants), I want to know more!! I couldn't stop thinking about it..I couldn't afford the piece, but I talked to Foster and told him that I had to have this photograph. He told me the story that the series he had done for the show was called "Passengers" and he had carried his camera around with him and shot normal life moments. In fact, the girl in the passenger seat is our mutual friend, Hobby Williams. Now I really have to have it!! What do I do to get this piece? As many collectors do, I paid for the piece "on time" and about a year later, it was mine. The day it came to my apartment I was still madly in love. I knew I had made a good decision. That was about five years ago I believe and each time I look at it I still feel exactly what I felt when I first saw the photograph. In fact, I actually miss it when I am away from New York and can't see it. So that piece is definitely making the journey with me!!
Collecting art is a personal thing. Collecting art is a passion. Buy what you love. If you don't love it in a few years, no big deal. Give it to someone. Donate it to a charity auction. Sell it.
You will know your collection is as it should be when you live with the ones you love surrounded by the art you love.