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Starting an art collection. (Executive Life).

One reason we keep acquiring art is because it fulfills our lives every day," says Phil Richardson, who began collecting Utah artists' paintings and sculpture when he and his wife, Kathleen, started attending the Salt Lake Gallery Association's every-third-Friday Art Walk." "We're enlightened every time we walk through the house."

An engineer, Phil's desire to collect and to learn made him begin to pay attention to art and incorporate it into his home environment. Several years ago, he and Kathleen, an independent mortgage broker, discovered a gallery guide that gave pointers for new collectors.

"The article talked about going on gallery strolls and paying attention to works of art that grab you. Then, you start learning about those pieces by reading, talking with gallery consultants, looking at complementary works, and, when possible, visiting with the artists," Kathleen recounts. The couple has been gallery hopping and studio visiting ever since.

Kathleen enjoys collecting abstract figurative paintings, while Phil likes works with challenging content and well-executed abstraction. The Richardsons collect works by Alex Bigney, Usual Brodauf, James Charles, Brian Christensen, Lee Deffabach, Michael Hullet, Ted Wassmer and Cordell Thylor, among others.

Award-winning architect and painter Allen Roberts, himself a collector, tries to "tie into the artist's motivations," which he believes helps him to develop a relationship with their art. Although the artwork doesn't change, his relationship with it does. "It keeps giving back to me over time," he says.

"The least important reason for collecting works of art is for their investment potential," Roberts continues. If someone acquires Utah art as an investment strategy and doesn't know much about the field, he suggests they seek out the works of bigger-named artists, such as painters Maynard Dixon and LeConte Stewart. Roberts' own collection includes works by Warren Archer, Randall Lake, Kathy Peterson, Bonnie Posselli, and the aforementioned Stewart, among others.

His personal taste ties his eclectic collection together. "I buy what I like. I'm not considering selling it anyway," he says. Furthermore, he believes that if a collector focuses on what he or she likes, the work will generally appreciate in monetary as well as intrinsic value.

Tips From a Gallery Owner

David Ericson, an expert on early Utah art, has been in the gallery business for 25 years. Although he places the blue-chip works of early Utah masters, such as John Hafen, J.T. Harwood, Waldo Midgley, George Ottinger and Mahonri Young, into some of Utah's finest public and private collections, he also represents many widely collected living artists. Some of his favorites are Lee udall Bennion, Rick Gate, Karen Home, Frank Huff, Earl Jones, Brian Kershisnik, Dennis Smith and Michael Workman, among others.

"Of course I'd recommend the works of artists I represent, hut there are dozens of other exceptional artists shown in Utah's many fine galleries," Ericson says. The following are some of the lessons he has learned as an art appraiser and dealer:

* Learn all you can. Do enough research to identify good artists. "If a collector is knowledgeable, then the risk of making poor decisions is lowered," Ericson says.

* Buy what you like. Hopefully, you collect art for aesthetic and emotional gain, not for profit motives.

* Collect works of art that make you aware of people and relationships, social conditions and your natural environment -- "your life is made more full and interesting," he says.

Frank McEntire is a Salt Lake City-based artist and freelance writer.

Frank McEntire, a sculptor and independent curator, has written extensively about the arts and humanities in Utah. During the past decade, McEntire has published exhibit reviews as the art critic for The Salt Lake Tribune; catalog essays for the Salt Lake Art Center, Art Access Gallery, and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Fine Art; and feature articles in numerous magazines. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Utah Arts Council.
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Author:McEntire, Frank
Publication:Utah Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U8UT
Date:May 1, 2002
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