Col­lect­ing lays claim to cool

En­thu­si­asts find joy in hunt­ing, gath­er­ing pieces

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - GARDEN - By Cindy Dampier

You’re look­ing for some­thing to give your place that per­sonal style you’ve heard so much about. You could use some­thing in­ter­est­ing to talk about and show off when peo­ple come over. And you might wel­come a mys­tery to dig into — well, now that “Game of Thrones” is over.

What you need is a col­lec­tion.

“Col­lect­ing is in­tel­lec­tual stim­u­la­tion, it’s so­cial bond­ing, it’s or­ga­ni­za­tion,” says Dr. Shirley Mueller, a neu­ro­sci­en­tist and col­lec­tor whose new book “In­side the Head of a Col­lec­tor: Neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal Forces at Work” is sched­uled for re­lease in Au­gust.

Col­lect­ing is an an­cient hu­man im­pulse, one that of­ten be­gins in child­hood. And it de­liv­ers the straight dopamine: “Peo­ple col­lect for one rea­son and that’s be­cause it makes them feel good,” says Mueller. “When we’re an­tic­i­pat­ing get­ting a de­sired ob­ject, the plea­sure cen­ters of our brain light up — even more than they do once we have the ob­ject. Col­lec­tors get to do that over and over again.” Go ahead, take an­other hit off the eBay.

Plus, col­lect­ing, in spite of an image that had been stuck some­where be­tween fussy (fancy porce­lain fig­urines) and child­ish

(Star Wars fig­urines) has sud­denly laid claim to its own brand of cool. Wit­ness, for ex­am­ple, the re­newed ob­ses­sion with vinyl records both old and new. The “ur­ban jun­gle” trend of col­lect­ing as many house­plants as pos­si­ble. Or the stats that show that mil­len­ni­als, though they may move more of­ten than past gen­er­a­tions and sup­pos­edly have an aver­sion to more “stuff,” are the fastest-grow­ing seg­ment of fine art buy­ers, out­strip­ping Gen Xers.

Elise Maltby, a 31-yearold di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing who lives in small but taste­ful Chicago apart­ment, has been col­lect­ing for nearly a decade. She started her col­lec­tion of “old man paint­ings” — a group of hand-painted por­traits of men — while work­ing at her first job at Hind­man auc­tions.

“I saw that some of the more con­tem­po­rary pieces,

E. JA­SON WAMBSGANS/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE PHO­TOS

Dan and Julie Wheeler’s home is filled with things “that meant some­thing to us from the past,” Dan Wheeler says.

Chicagoan Elise Maltby as­sem­bled her col­lec­tion of “old man paint­ings” over the past 10 years, largely from auc­tions.

Among Ar­den Fan­ning’s col­lec­tions are vin­tage faux Louis Vuit­ton bags that she in­her­ited from her mother.

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