There was a print of a Braque painting in the dining room growing up, but that was the only painting I remember in our house. Living near Cleveland, Ohio, we would make occasional trips to the wonderful Cleveland Museum of Art. My strongest memories are of the Impressionist paintings — Monet’s water lilies, some beautiful Renoirs and Degas — the armor room, and the amazing Asian collection. The thought of collecting art myself never crossed my mind.
Attending college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the art museum was close by, but I must admit I never went. When I met my future husband, he was a very hard-working engineering student, but when he needed a break from his challenging course work, he would take a few hours to visit the museum or attend a Cleveland Orchestra concert if he was lucky enough to win free tickets. I met many engineering students at CWRU, but he was the only one who showed such a love for art and classical music. Mike and I were married in 1980.
The first few years we were married, we would visit museums, and bought some small pieces at local art fairs. On a business trip from our then home outside Austin, Texas to Houston, Mike visited a Circle Gallery and was taken by the felt works of Calman Shemi. It was our first serious art purchase and from that time forward, as we moved from place to place, finding a house with a large enough space to hold the Shemi was always a high priority.
We continued to buy art occasionally, usually at local art fairs In Tokyo, we purchased some wonderful contemporary prints at the annual print shows presented by the College Women’s Association of Japan, even though there wasn’t enough wall space in our small apartment to hold them all. But it was when we moved to the Bay Area and met Tamara that we began, almost unconsciously, to begin really building our own modest collection.
It was more than 17 years ago when my husband and I walked into Le Vernissage Gallery of Fine Art in Carmel for the first time. We were enjoying a lovely November day in Carmel, with no intention of buying any art. At the Gallery, we found a lovely lady and a beautiful collection.
There was an amazingly beautiful painting by Claude Idlas hanging under perfect lighting – we were intrigued. We considered it from every angle, left briefly to talk about the work, but then rushed back to make sure no one else bought it before us. It has had a place of honor in our living room from that day forward.
Over the years, we visited Carmel and Tamara’s gallery several times a year, buying paintings when they took our breath away. We came to value Tamara’s great eye for art as well as her warm friendship.
Years passed and we continued to visit and acquired many paintings from Tamara from a wide array of artists, as well as adding pieces from artists at Hunters Point studios in San Francisco and other locations. We aren’t wealthy and we didn’t have a huge house, but by the time we moved last November, every wall in every room was hung with beautiful art.
Late last year, we sold our home and moved out of California. We left two of our most beloved pieces for resale consignment at the gallery, knowing there wouldn’t be wall space for them, and had the rest of the collection carefully delivered to the new house. We kept them stored away while we had some remodeling done. As we settled in, we came to truly love our new house and our new surroundings. But it was only when we finally, carefully, thoughtfully, rehung our art that the new house became our home. It truly took our breath away.
Each room now seems to have its own art “personality.” The living room has the brightly colored Idlas and Innes works on one wall and a wonderful grouping of mezzotints on the opposite wall.
The library has bold pieces including a work by Sebastian. My office is hung with intimate, quiet paintings of women, including works by Martin Petrosian and Ashot Asatrian.Our bedroom has the Shemi piece as well as a landscape in restful colors by Marie Claude Valat. The hallway holds some of our Japanese prints.
Looking around, I realize that the art not only makes this house a home, it makes it our home, reflecting our personalities and the journey through life that we are taking together. Our bedroom has the Shemi piece as well as a landscape in restful colors by Marie Claude Valat. The hallway holds some of our Japanese prints.
Looking around, I realize that the art not only makes this house a home, it makes it our home, reflecting our personalities and the journey through life that we are taking together.
by Ann Wagner