The secret to collecting art is simple.
You have to enjoy it. You don’t need an art degree, or a fundamental understanding of the influences Italian politics and financiers upon the artists of the Renaissance. You don’t need to understand color theory. You just have to fall in love with the art.
That’s what happened to Joe and Lisa. Their names aren’t really Joe and Lisa, I’m just not going to tell you who they really are because we care about client confidentiality. But their story needs telling, because it started with a painting of a pig. This one:
Joe visited the gallery once by himself and saw James Johnson’s Free Range Pig. He liked it. We don’t like to talk about love at first sight, but … kinda.
“I went in three times,” says Joe. “There was this pig. I couldn’t believe the detail in it. I never talked to anyone about it. I felt like I was out of my element. But I kept going back to look at that piece. And then I brought Lisa to look at it, which was when we finally talked to Jack.
“As we were about to leave, he mentioned layaway, which I had no idea you could do.”
Joe and Lisa put money down on the pig. And then they began thinking about the pig in a different way. They were ready to start construction on a new office for their business. Joe imagined the pig hanging there, and couldn’t wait to get it out of layaway.
“We kept going back to visit it,” says Lisa. “And every time, Jack would get it out of the back so we could look at it.”
“I needed to pay it off so I could have it, you know?” says Joe.
Which he did. But the Pig created an itch to be scratched, so to speak.
“I was so pleased with the pig … I relate it to tattoos. People say once you get one, you want to get another one. I don’t have any tattoos, but I do buy art. I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I want more and more. Once we had possession of it, well, it’s hard to tell someone it’s a piece of art without hanging it on the wall with other art around it.”
They started with an art budget for the office, but that changed as the construction process took longer than planned, giving them more time to choose even more art.
They began with the idea that it all had to match, but what they liked didn’t match.
“But Jack said, ‘I don’t know if you want it to match,’” says Lisa. With that in mind, they followed their instincts and interests, choosing pieces that spoke to them. Those choices colored the interior design for the rest of the office space.
“The art influenced the type and quality of the furniture we bought,” says Joe. Instead of ordering from a catalogue, they had custom cubicles, made of recycled wood, burlap and steel, created locally. Almost all of the office doors are from old barns and slide open instead of swing. All of the wood is “recovered,” a fancy way of saying “reused.”
Joe’s office, in particular, reflects the eclectic aesthetic of the office. His desk is tall and bean shaped, covered entirely in what appears to be airplane aluminum. There’s a lamp hanging from the ceiling by his great grandfather’s log chain. The lamp is from India. The chairs are leather and metal, pairing new and old. An enormous painting of a bullfighter by Timur Akhriev hangs perpendicular to a large flat screen HDTV. These are the motifs for the rest of the office.
The space has had a noticeable, positive effect on their employees.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to work in a building that looks this way,” says Joe. “People are happier. They are proud of their workspace. We have everything.”
“It makes our employees happy,” says Lisa. “They’ll visit on the weekend, which is unusual. And if they have a relative in town, they want to bring them by to give them the tour.”
“We told our employees what we were doing along the way, but I don’t think they understood until they saw it,” says Joe. “I think everyone was shocked at how it all came together.”
“That’s where Jack and the guys at Gilley electric came in,” says Lisa. “They showed us how to make it all work."
As of now, there are more than 20 pieces of original art scattered about their offices. But do Joe and Lisa consider themselves art collectors?
“I don’t even know what that means,” says Joe. “I don’t know a lot about art. And you don’t have to. You just choose what you like.
“We try to keep it weird.”
As they’ve brought in new art, their favorites have vacillated. Lisa likes the three Brett Lethbridge pieces and their arrangement in the hall outside her office, but if pressed, she’ll tell you she likes Jeff Ham’s Woody Guthrie painting best.
“There was a lot of anticipation for that one for me,” she says.
For Joe, “It’s still the Pig.”
In Other News
Though he missed the show, he's still coming to visit. Brett Lethbridge will be here next Thursday from 4-6pm hanging out. He'll be happy to chat with you about his work or life in general. How often to you just get to hang out with an Australian-by-way-of-South Africa lawyer-turned-artist?
Oh, we'll be here, too.
The show is just two weeks away, gang. We are stoked (that's an industry technical term). We have images for (I think) all the pieces that'll be present. Paul sent us a lot to look at and I'm not sure how much of it is actually making the trip, but there are at least two installation-size pieces that'll get your attention.
K sent out her newsletter this week, and had this to say:
November, 1988, I married my Hubby in Muskogee, OK. Our honeymoon? We spent it at an art show in Tulsa, OK.
Fast forward to Nov. 2014. How are we spending our anniversary? We'll be at an art show in Tulsa, OK.
Join us at Lovetts Gallery , 6528 E. 51st ST, Tulsa, OK 74145, in the Farm Shopping Center on November 8, 2014, 10am - 5pm.
The show, "The Wild Bunch," features me, Paul Rhymer and Robert Caldwell. The three of us will be at the gallery creating our artwork.
I think she's got it covered, pretty much.
We'll see you next week.