Glass Vessels by Lino Tagliapietra

Have you ever thought about starting an art collection? Where and how do you begin? There are so many places to see original art; museums, galleries, art fairs, open studios, and many local art exhibits through art centers and libraries as well as the internet. The way to begin is to collect what interests you. You don’t need a lot of money to start. Artists and galleries are always willing to work on a payment plan with you. Another option is to contact an artist directly and schedule a studio visit.

Throughout the coming year, I plan to interview both serious and casual collectors to give you a behind-the-scenes look at how an art collection begins and enhances your home and life. 

The first collector I want to introduce you to is Chris Rifkin. Chris is a serious collector. She didn’t set out to be one until she needed to build a database to keep track of her growing passion. She is an artist herself and has first-hand experience and knowledge of all the technical aspects of creating these glass masterpieces that surround her at home. She is putting more time into arts administration work on the board of the South Shore Art Center where she has been involved since 1962, and the Fuller Craft Museum

Herb Babcock, a piece from 1980

I asked Chris if she had a preference for mediums or other aesthetic styles and she is mostly attracted to glass, but really all mediums, especially tactile ones. Minimalism, simplicity, and architectural structure are what initially caught her eye. She is drawn in by colors, shapes, and the way paint is laid down, a really visceral reaction to the art.

Josh Simpson, New Mexico Series Goblets

She started her collection in the early ’60s with the first goblet on the left by Josh Simpson, which is from his New Mexico series. It cost her $35.00 back then, which was expensive especially when you are starting to raise a family. The swirling colors caught her eye.

Jay Stanger, 52′ wooden wall display

Her home is like a museum. She is passionate about all of it and there is a story behind every painting, sculpture, and tapestry. In order to display this exquisite glass work she needed to hire a talented woodworker to create a display unit where work can be seen at multiple levels and angles. Jay Stanger fit the bill and is an artist and master of his craft. Jay designed this 52’ long cabinet and also created the marquetry work on the front and back of this colossal door.

Every room has artwork of all medias and is thoughtfully and lovingly displayed. Each piece has a voice and a conversation with the other work around it.

I asked if she had a few favorites and she led me to a couple of sculptures by William Morris, Duck Rattle, and Red Wolf Situla. They both bring to mind ancient tribal cultures and spiritual associations. Her love of the animal motif is present throughout the house, but the work she has chosen to live with is charged with a deeper meaning. Below is a quote from the artist William Morris:

“Stories are the vehicle that moves metaphor and image into experience. Like metaphors and images, stories communicate what is generally invisible and ultimately inexpressible. In seeking to understand these realities through time, stories provide a perspective that touches on the divine, allowing us to see reality in full context, as part of its larger whole. Stories invite a kind of vision that gives shape and form even to the invisible, making the images move, clothing the metaphors, throwing color into the shadows. Of all the devices available to us, stories are the surest way of touching the human spirit.”

William Morris, Duck Rattle, Glass

Written by Stephanie Roberts-Camello, a member of New England Wax