Pictured: Crack, Ken Kelly, mixed media on canvas, 1993.
Owned by John Weber, Dayton Director, Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery (2004 – 2012)
I’m not a “collector” - art has simply come to me through gifts or trades with artists - there’s a real difference. The Ken Kelly piece is a good example. It was a gift from the Contemporary Art Council when I left the Portland Art Museum. Kelly is a Seattle artist whose work I admired, so it was a wonderful gift, and stays with me as a memory of a time in my life and a group of people I worked with.
I think there’s every kind of collector today - people collect for any reason you can imagine, and some of them consider it “collecting” and some don’t. Some of them care about the money, and some of them really don’t. Some of them are fundamentally decorating their living spaces, and others just can’t help them-selves - they keep buying art, even when they don’t need it, and then they end up needing to figure out storage. Some of those people are doing it just because they’re crazy for art and crazy about art; while some others who buy like crazy are doing it looking over their shoulder all the time, you know, to see if they are winning at the game…. So it’s dangerous to make assumptions about the motivations of collectors.
A number of major collectors I’ve had the chance to know started out collecting one kind of art, then shifted their focus as they learned more….. People who wind up becoming collectors, they learn through their eyes - their ‘eye’ gets better as they look at more and more art. Some contemporary collectors really like to talk to artists, and some don’t, because they know they get talked into things, or dissuaded. They like the artist so they buy the art. Or they don’t like the artist so they don’t buy the art. And then a couple of years later they say, ‘We really should have bought so-and-so, but we didn’t because he was such a jerk. And now we still really like the work, still don’t have any, and its value is way up!’
John Weber, 2012