COLLECTOR'S PROFILE

Benefit

Laura McArtor

How would you identify yourself (artist, collector, arts supporter, hobbyist, art buyer, art enthusiast, other, multiple…)?
Art collector

Tell us about your very first art purchase.
In the early ’90s, I was married and living with my husband in Richmond, Va., in a converted coffee warehouse loft. On the ground floor was a coffee shop that had rotating artist exhibits. We purchased a large oil painting of a nude for, like, $200. The artist (it kills me that I don’t know her name — her first name is Cecily) was also selling charcoal sketches for $25. We bought three. It was a lot of nudity to start a collection, but they all looked amazing against our exposed brick walls.

One of the first things we did after moving to San Francisco was attend SF Open Studios at Hunters Point Shipyard. I had never seen so much accessible artwork in one place. We had so much fun getting to talk to the artists, and we bought three pieces that day. (When we split up, my husband kindly let me keep all of these pieces. They are such a special part of my collection, and I still remain friends with a couple of the artists.)

When did you realize that you had a real interest in acquiring artwork?
After my divorce, I spent a lot of time tagging along with a good friend who wrote an arts column for the Examiner. She introduced me to so many artists and galleries and events and organizations — I will always credit her with getting me started collecting — and she showed me it could be social and affordable, not stuffy and exclusive.

Around how many artworks do you currently own?
80–90

What do you look for now when you buy artwork?
I just listen to my gut. There is no theme to my collection, though the majority of pieces are either painting or photography, and many could be described as “offbeat” or “quirky.” If I can justify the price and know I’ll regret not buying it, it comes home with me. Most of my purchases are from the ArtSpan or SoEx [Southern Exposure] auctions.




Matt McKinley

Benefit

How would you identify yourself (artist, collector, arts supporter, hobbyist, art buyer, art enthusiast, other, multiple…)?
All of the above!

Tell us about your very first art purchase.
The first work of art I purchased is a work on paper titled “Through the Eyes of Needle Teeth” by Mary DeLave. I bought it when I was a senior at UC Davis, on the Quad during a weekend festival. It was a warm day, and I was feeling pretty good after listening to some music and hanging with my friends. Mary’s work caught my eye amongst all the other booths because her work is colorful and, with this particular piece, darkly humorous. She was easy and open with talking about her work too, which helped put me at ease and encouraged my curiosity. I don’t remember how much I paid for it (less than $50 — I had budget concerns!), but I still have the piece and feel as drawn to it today as I was then.

When did you realize that you had a real interest in acquiring artwork?
I’ve always enjoyed artwork in my environment — the type of artwork I’ve acquired is what’s changed over the years. Posters as a teen, cards, mass-produced copies, and my first attempts at my own photos as a young adult, then original artworks in many media and limited-edition prints now.

Around how many artworks do you currently own?
Guesstimate of about 80 pieces in all media.

What do you look for now when you buy artwork?
There’s a feeling the philosopher EA Burtt described as “aesthetic absorption” — the state of being completely consumed by a work. I’ve found this feeling in front of Ellsworth Kelly’s “Blue Arc,” but it’s a little out of my price range. I pay attention, though, when I get that tingle. Most of the work I own is by artists I also, fortunately, have gotten to know. The work is a simulacrum of the person. Every so often I buy a piece just because I enjoy it, without knowing why.



Maria Abrahms

Benefit

How would you identify yourself (artist, collector, arts supporter, hobbyist, art buyer, art enthusiast, other, multiple…)?
Art collector, supporter, enthusiast, patron.

Tell us about your very first art purchase (How did it happen, who was the artist, how much did it cost, what happened next?)
My first true art purchase, as I consider it (meaning not just for decorating the house), was a Linda Ross-Larson (now just Linda Larson), “There’s Nothing Funny About a Kiss,” oil on wood, back in 1991. I was an assistant at Ghia Gallery, and Linda was in a show that I curated, and I got the piece, which I loved and still love, for half the gallery price: $150 (I believe it is now worth $2,000-plus). While I had three kids and a mortgage and really “shouldn’t” have spent the money, I liked the piece so much, the price was so good, and it commemorated my show. It’s still one of my favorite pieces.

When did you realize that you had a real interest in acquiring artwork?
I think it was about five or six years ago when I had a big art-buying year. I bought several pieces at the Postcard show and then really a lot at the Homeless Coalition auction. I realized that buying art really was very enjoyable to me. Not only do I get a big kick out of the art itself (I like looking at my collection every day), but I’m also helping the local arts community.

Around how many artworks do you currently own?
About 50-plus.

What do you look for now when you buy artwork?
I really like to find different genres now, like mixed media or sculpture. I recently purchased a large, stainless steel sculpture at the Hunters Point Shipyard. Last year I got three of Jennifer Ewing’s “spirit boats.” Basically, I look around for something I like so much, I want to live with it and I can afford it, and it’s not too similar to anything I already have. If I know the artist personally, that is also an encouragement to me to make a purchase.


SF Open Studios 2012 Guide