Con­nected to the CITY

American Art Collector - - Unveiling -

Larry Shapin and Ladonna Ni­co­las’ home in Louisville, Ken­tucky, was once a 3,000-square-foot house on over 10 acres. As their col­lec­tion has grown, the house has grown—to 16,000 square feet. Since they choose to live with their art, not keep it in a ware­house or a sep­a­rate gallery, and since they con­tinue to col­lect, the house will prob­a­bly grow again. The col­lec­tion cur­rently com­prises about 1,200 pieces by 330 artists.

The unique char­ac­ter of their col­lec­tion is that it be­gan with a Louisville artist when Larry pur­chased his first paint­ing in 1975 and has con­tin­ued to fo­cus on artists from Ken­tucky, from 17-year-old high school artists to an artist who is 99. Even Larry’s new car was built in Ken­tucky.

Art also had a role in the cou­ple get­ting to­gether. When Larry brought Ladonna to the house to see his col­lec­tion about 17 years ago he showed her a sculp­ture he had bought 25 years ago. She told him she had been the model for the sculp­ture. It was des­tiny! Ladonna shared his love for art. “At the time, I was buy­ing one or two pieces a year,” Larry ex­plains. “Lately, we’ve been buy­ing one piece a week.” “And we’re not go­ing to stop,” Ladonna adds.

Larry’s first piece was Mary Ann Cur­rier’s Frilly Lilies. “The woman I was dat­ing at the time wanted to go to an art open­ing. I had never been to one,” Larry says. “I liked the paint­ing, but it was $500 and I didn’t have $500. But I worked out a deal with Mary Ann to pay her $30 a month. When she died last year, she was a close friend and Ken­tucky’s most fa­mous con­tem­po­rary artist.”

“We came to ‘buy lo­cal’ be­fore it be­came pop­u­lar,” Ladonna notes. Larry adds, “By hav­ing a col­lec­tion of work by lo­cal artists, we run into them all the time and see how they progress. If we bought out of town artists, we’d never see them again. This way, we can help them and in­tro­duce them to other col­lec­tors.”

“We want to sup­port emerg­ing lo­cal artists,” Ladonna says. “Their work is af­ford­able, and it’s fun to go around to their stu­dios. Their ideas are ex­cit­ing and they’re so ex­cited about their work. Many are shy but soon open up when we be­gin talk­ing about their ideas. We col­lect many young artists who didn’t think they’d be col­lectible. It’s nice to see them grow. We can say, ‘I knew them when.’ We’re like a lit­tle in­cu­ba­tor.”

The cou­ple doesn’t com­mis­sion art­work but did when they met one trou­bled young artist. They asked her to make a piece for the per­gola in their gar­den. “It turned her life around,” Larry hap­pily ex­plains. “She grad­u­ated from high school and then went on to study art.

“Other artists take strange ca­reer paths to sup­port their art,” he con­tin­ues. “We met one young woman who went into nurs­ing but is now in grad­u­ate school in art. We have a cou­ple of pieces that were done by high school stu­dents. Shak­ers was de­signed and con­structed by one. The Shak­ers were celi­bate and he shows the male and fe­male fig­ures fac­ing away from each other.”

The cou­ple hosts char­ity events and school tours. “Whether they’re 17 or 70,” Larry com­ments, “they’ve never seen any­thing like this.” The col­lec­tion is chal­leng­ing and be­hind each piece there is a story. Most of their guests ask for the sto­ries—some­times sup­plied by the artists who have been in­vited to the event and some­times by the host. “Most peo­ple are fas­ci­nated once they hear the sto­ries,” Larry says. “We’re ed­u­cat­ing the peo­ple of Louisville that there is in­ter­est­ing stuff out there.”

Many of the young artists re­veal them­selves in their art. Ladonna says, “I think that stu­dents are just re­ally com­ing up with cool ideas. It’s like kids who are more cre­ative when they are lit­tle, and as they get older feel like they have to fit into a slot. Younger artists are want­ing to and will­ing to take risks.”

A young gay man from Cam­bo­dia, Vin­hay Keo, was un­able to come out to his fam­ily or to oth­ers when he first came to the States. His Pre­cious Plas­tic Armor was his fresh­man piece at the Ken­tucky School of Art. Nearby in the cou­ple’s col­lec­tion is his se­nior the­sis piece, Sam­sara, in which he is seen in a sea of 2,000 shred­ded phone books em­blem­atic of his com­ing to terms with who he is. The word sam­sara, in Hin­duism and Bud­dhism, refers to the cy­cle of death and re­birth. The col­lec­tors are proud to note that Keo is be­gin­ning grad­u­ate school in LA.

An Iraqi im­mi­grant, Vian Sora, painted Pu­rifi­ca­tion, rep­re­sent­ing the chaos and blood­shed of war in the up­per por­tion and a calm­ness at the bot­tom as her life set­tled down peace­fully.

A large in­stal­la­tion piece, Chris Radtke’s Reach, rep­re­sents the artist her­self. The crushed glass is equal to her body weight and burn marks at the top of the oak sculp­ture rep­re­sent a light­ning strike that be­gan the process of life on earth.

A large paint­ing in the kitchen is Ja­cob Heustis’ homage to He­len Franken­thaler, Sweet ‘n Low. Painted in the tech­nique of the great ab­stract ex­pres­sion­ist, it in­cor­po­rates a rat that is the sig­na­ture of the street artist Banksy, and al­ludes to the toxic qual­ity of the ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­ener, which is said to have been de­vel­oped as a rat poi­son.

Heustis takes a more pos­i­tive turn in Drool: Coy­ote in which he has mounted a taxi­dermy road kill coy­ote head above a shelf with a can. A cir­cu­lat­ing pump al­lows the coy­ote to “drool” into the can, en­joy­ing a sec­ond chance at life.

As the col­lec­tion grows, the cou­ple is plan­ning for its fu­ture, in­ves­ti­gat­ing ways it can be kept to­gether in its set­ting ei­ther through a foun­da­tion or in as­so­ci­a­tion with an in­sti­tu­tion. They are also con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that there could be artist res­i­den­cies at the prop­erty.

Sur­rounded by the art and know­ing the sto­ries be­hind it and the artists who made it, Larry and Ladonna are the con­sum­mate pas­sion­ate art pa­trons. It has be­come their life. As Ladonna says, “Liv­ing with the art is sec­ond na­ture. Col­lect lo­cal—wher­ever lo­cal is.”

1On the counter is Paul Nel­son’s Em­brace, 2014, blown and cast glass. On the left in the hall is J.B. Wil­son’s Self De­ter­mi­na­tion, 2010, dig­i­tal re­con­structed im­age printed on Du­ra­trans in light box. High on the wall, from left, are Hal­lie de Cather­ine Jones’ Ig­no­rance is Strength, 2011, dye sub­li­ma­tion on Ma­sonite board, and Shayne Hull’s William, 2007, and Va­lerie, 2006, acrylic on wood. The large paint­ing is Sweet ‘n Low, 2005, acrylic, sugar sub­sti­tute pack­ets on can­vas, by Ja­cob Heustis. The glass sculp­ture is Chad Bal­ster’s Un­ti­tled, 2013.2Start­ing at left in the kitchen are Larry & Ladonna, 2015, acrylic on can­vas, by David Ia­co­v­azzi-Pau; Keith Lin­ton’s Ne­bu­lous, 2004, foam, alu­minum, wood, acrylic and spray paint; and Dustin Dirt’s Me, My­self & I, 2012, enamel on wood and Lin­ton’s Prick, 2004, drift­wood, metal, paint. The back­splash is J.B. Wil­son’s River, 2012, dig­i­tal im­age sub­li­mated onto ce­ramic tile. On the counter is Paul Nel­son’s Em­brace, 2014, blown and cast glass.3Vin­hay Keo’s Pre­cious Plas­tic Armor, 2014, plas­tic straws and blinds, spray paint, stands in the cor­ner and in front of J. Eric Heil­bron­ner’s Thought, 2014, chro­moskeda­sic sil­ver gelatin pho­to­graph on alu­minum. Next are Cheryl Chap­man’s Match, 2014, oil on can­vas, and Sho­hei Katayama’s Uzu, 2013, hand drawn oil Sharpie on acrylic. The sculp­ture on the pedestal is Peter Golem­boski’s Visual Cliff,2011, melted plas­tic petri dishes, wire. On the side­wall is Vin­hay Keo’s Sam­sara, 2017, dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy on alu­minum. In the fore­ground is Richard Camp­bell’s Buddy, 2010, de­con­structed me­chan­i­cal dog, ther­mal blan­ket.

4On the left is Thaniel Ion Lee’s Dice Paint­ing num­ber 1, 2013, enamel on board. In the fore­ground is Richard Camp­bell’s Buddy. In the win­dow is Car­rie Burr’s Larry, 2017, pho­to­graph on polymire. The long paint­ing is Car­los Gamez de Fran­cisco’s Hip­popota­mus, 2012, In­dia ink, oil, pen­cil on can­vas. Be­neath it is Gibbs Roun­savall’s Tran­si­tion #2,2018, enamel on pa­per. The pho­to­graphic se­ries is Sur­ren­der, 2015, by Leslie Lyons.

9Larry Shapin and Ladonna Ni­co­las stand in front of Vian Sora’s Pu­rifi­ca­tion, 2013, Plex­i­glass, pig­ments, inks and oil on can­vas.

5On the top left is Al­ber­tus Gor­man’s The Golden Hour, 2017, dye sub­li­ma­tion on alu­minum. Be­neath it is Matt Gat­ton’s Self-Por­trait, 2018, dye sub­li­ma­tion of pho­to­sculp­ture on alu­minum. In the hall, from top left, are Gaela Er­win’s S.P.: Mys­tic Mar­riage of St. Cather­ine, oil on linen on panel, and Suzanne En­riquez Dougherty’s Fe­male Study, 2008, oil on board. On the right, at top, are An­drea Stanislav’s Un­ti­tled, 2009, glit­ter, print as­sem­blage; Don Ater’s John Len­non is Avail­able, 1972, pho­to­graph; and Jill Baker’s Laven­der Fields at St. Remy, 1998, wa­ter­color.6Natasha Sud’s Na­tive, 2015, as­sem­blage on wood is on the left. At the top is Petersen Thomas’ Lorain County Sky, 2013, acrylic on can­vas. Be­neath it is Sarah Lasley’s Good­bye Brook­lyn, 2009, oil on can­vas. On the right is Drura Par­rish’s LOT Cob, 2010, silkscreen on pa­per.7The sculp­ture on the left is William Fisher’s Fam­ily, 1990, painted steel. The large paint­ing is Bob Hig­gins’ Homage to de Koon­ing, acrylic on board. Be­neath it is Nathaniel Hen­drick­son’s Mon­key Meat, 2013, yard, card­board cylin­der. High on the wall is Bryce Hud­son’s Bound­aries, 2004, acrylic on can­vas. On the right is Devon Mur­phy’s Con­straint, 2017, graphite on Tyvek. The sculp­ture is Chris Radtke’s Reach, 2008, oak, shat­tered tem­pered glass. Above the Radtke are two 2014 pho­to­graphs by Leslie Lyons, from left, Be­fore and Af­ter.8William Cic­cariello’s Black Mush­room, 1998, oil on board, hangs above the sink.

John O’Hern, who has re­tired af­ter 30 years in the mu­seum busi­ness, specif­i­cally as the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor and Cu­ra­tor of the Arnot Art Mu­seum, Elmira, N.Y., is the orig­i­na­tor of the in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed Rep­re­sent­ing Rep­re­sen­ta­tion ex­hi­bi­tions which pro­mote re­al­ism in its many guises. John was chair of the Artists Panel of the New York State Coun­cil on the Arts. He writes for gallery pub­li­ca­tions around the world, in­clud­ing reg­u­lar monthly fea­tures on Art Mar­ket In­sights and on Sculp­ture in West­ern ArtCol­lec­tor mag­a­zine.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.