When you think of art collecting, what comes to mind? Seven-figure auction sales from news stories? Or towering egos and chichi galleries from movies? Focus on the Masters hosted an event recently that offered a very different perspective. “Where Art Lives” was a self-led tour of the homes of eleven local art collectors that brought to light the intimate and dynamic relationships between works of art, their collectors and the spaces they share.
Focus on the Masters (FOTM) is Ventura County’s ultimate collector of stories on the region’s art world, preserving and documenting art works and artists’ lives and sharing them through their archive, presentations and arts education programs. FOTM “office empress” Mary Galbraith conceived of the tour as a way to help people understand that one doesn’t have to be an expert in art history or a “gazillionaire” to collect art because, as she says, “What carries the day is the passion of the collector, the inability to say ‘no’ to a work of art that has power for them.”
While the “Where Art Lives” tour offered but a small sampling of Ventura County collectors, their generosity in sharing their passion and homes provided invaluable insights for both artists and art lovers to consider. The biggest takeaway is that anyone can do it, and with the density of artists and variety of artwork in our region, one can start at any price point. Buying art on layaway is often an option as well. When Sindelar had her shop, Natalie’s Fine Threads and The Upstairs Gallery, she observed that “More people bought art on layaway than our clothing — and they never defaulted.” And while the neutral spaces of galleries help us see the work, it’s not just aesthetics that people hunger for. The stories collectors shared provided eloquent and powerful testimony on the value of living with art, reminding us that we all seek meaningful connection with both the people and the objects in our lives.