March 4, 2021 - By Joy Reed Belt
Denise Duong, "Take Me Anywhere," BFK Rivers Paper, 16" x 11" Image on 20" x 15" Paper - Print from Gallery's 10th Anniversary Box
Carol Beesley, "Near Black Mesa, Oklahoma," Serigraph on Hahnemuhl Fine Art Paper, 14" x 11" Image on 22" x 15" Paper - Print from Gallery's 10th Anniversary Box
Growing up, most of the people I knew were working on some sort of a collection. Even kids my age were collecting model trains and airplanes, marbles, dolls, coins, fishing lures, books, toy soldiers, autographs and baseball cards. As I matured, I noticed that adults were often defined by their collections. The collectibles they acquired were usually more expensive and obvious like cars, boats, art, homes, jewelry and antiques. My dad, for example, acquired books about sporting dogs throughout his lifetime, which created a highly respected Library about Sporting Dogs. While I admired people who were very disciplined about their collecting, I just tended to collect the things I liked. For instance, I enjoyed owning an entire series of books, like the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew Mysteries, which I paid for out of my earned allowance. For a few years I was really into acquiring a line of manufactured prints of women called “Cameo Pictures,” which I got with the Green Stamps my mother gave me. But those activities can’t really be called collecting, because all I had to do was make sure I bought each book or “painting” in a series as soon as it was released. In my teens I decided to start a poster collection, but gave that up because I wanted to surround myself with things that were one of a kind. I haven’t changed much over the years. My eye and my affection seem to go to things that I determine to be unique.
Ginna Dowling, "Apprentice of Hope," Arches 88 Cotton Fiber Paper, 17" x 11" Image on 20" x 15" Paper - Print from Gallery's 10th Anniversary Box
Barbara Broadwell, "The Old Woman Who Never Dies," Archival Arches Fine Art Paper, 22" x 15" - Print from Gallery's 10th Anniversary Box
John Seward, "Untitled Graffiti Projection Y2K07," Archival Inkjet on Hahnemuhl Fine Art Paper, 18" x 12" Image on 22" x 15" Paper - Print from Gallery's 10th Anniversary Box
However, I am a big advocate of collecting, especially for children. For a child “collecting” is about building self-esteem. It also is an excellent way for them to experience the joy of acquiring knowledge, learn the thrill of the hunt by conducting research, and to become critical thinkers. Having a collection is also good for children who are a bit shy. They can always talk about their collection instead of themselves and they have something interesting they can show to others which usually generates approval. Adults collect for many of the same reasons as children. But adults usually have a lot more interest in the end game. They want, or expect, their collection to appreciate in value just like they expect their portfolio of stocks to increase over a given period of time. That could be because they feel a need to justify why they spend so much time and/or money doing what others often label a hobby, or it could be to gain status and acceptance with people they admire. There are also adults who have been so focused on “getting there” that when they arrive, they have a real need to add more meaning to their lives. For others, as we have seen throughout history, they believe that by building a formidable collection they can make a connection to immortality. Museum holdings are filled with these kinds of collections.
Greg Gummersall, "Untitled," Arches 300# Paper, 12" x 9" Image on 22" x 15" Paper - Print from Gallery's 10th Anniversary Box
B.J. White, "Habitat Series, Red Grass," Magnani Revere Paper, 14" x 10" on 22" x 15" Paper - Print from Gallery's 10th Anniversary Box
The need to collect in our society is well known to every marketing department, mindful that almost every product in existence, at some point in time, creates a collection. Just think about all the “Collector’s Additions” in some form or other you have seen or heard about in the past three months. It really boggles the mind, especially during the holiday season. Several years ago I wanted to do something special to celebrate the Gallery’s 10th year anniversary. So, I decided to put together a boxed set of limited editions signed prints created by ten different Gallery artists and make them available for sale to the public. I thought this boxed set of art prints could not only become or be added to a collection for others, but it was a good way for me to promote the Gallery and the ten artists. Well, it was a wonderfully interesting and time-consuming project for me to undertake. First, I had to select the ten artists. Then I had to sell them on the idea. Next, I had to find out how to get the prints boxed and presented. Since I had long admired a box of prints that John Seward had made of his photography, I called and asked him to mentor me. It was a fascinating process. John put me in touch with a man in Massachusetts who made said boxes, asked many questions, and required that I answer many questions regarding fonts, cloth coverings, and type of box. Doing something like that was more expensive than I had anticipated, but I was so proud of the boxed sets when they arrived. A couple of weeks ago when I was in the “Cottage” a building near the Gallery where we store inventory, I found some of these boxed prints and was reminded once again of how very special collections can be.
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