Gallery of Contemporary Art to Host ‘The Passionate Collectors: For Love or Money’

News Story: September 1, 2010

On October 19, 2010, at The Gallery of Contemporary Art at Sacred Heart University, a panel discussion featuring a variety of seasoned art collectors will examine why people collect art and how those collections connect to audiences everywhere.  The evening is free and the public is cordially invited to attend.  The evening begins at 7:00 p.m.

Human beings are by nature collectors.  From childhood on, we are drawn to gathering things that give us pleasure.  As adults, the focus and quality of what we collect changes dramatically. “The idea for the panel discussion on collecting art naturally came out of our current exhibit—Juxtapositions: The Collector, the Art and the Collection, a show selected from the collection of Ben Ortiz,” said Sophia Gevas, director of the Gallery of Contemporary Art.

While organizing the exhibition, Gevas did research into what motivates individual collectors and discovered that the reasons behind acquiring art were as varied as the collectors themselves.  The common thread that seems to be shared by all collectors is passion.

“The Passionate Collectors: For Love or Money” oversimplifies the range and experience of our panelists,” Gevas noted.  “The panelists are extraordinary.  All are seasoned collectors who have a range of views and will share real insights into the intricacies of collecting art—no matter what their motivation.”

The panel will be moderated by Ann Chernow, a renowned artist herself who with her late husband, Burt Chernow, built a significant private collection.  Burt Chernow, an art dealer, was the creator of the exceptional art collection at Housatonic Community College.

Joining Chernow on the panel will be James R. Hedges, IV, who has been named by Arts and Antiques magazine as one of “The Top 100 Collectors in America”.  An early leader in the hedge fund and alternative investments industry, Hedges is an active supporter of the visual and performing arts worldwide and has recently devoted his energy to collecting art of all kinds.  He is the President of The Hedges Family Charitable Foundation.

A specialist and dealer in Indian miniatures and Old Master drawings, Mitche Kunzman, co-founder and director of the Artifacts Lanier Gallery in Darien, has an intimate, insiders view of the world of art collecting gained from his decades-long experiences with dealers, auction houses, collectors and museums.  Since 1982, he has been president of the Artifacts Collections of New York.

For Hugh Bareiss, collecting art has been a part of his life since birth.  The son of Walter Bareiss, a distinguished collector who bought his first Picasso at age 14 and parts of whose collection reside in such august locations as The Getty Museum, The Toledo Museum of Art and the Yale University Art Museum, Bareiss worked closely with his father cataloguing, researching the collection and arranging exhibitions, donations and sales.  He is currently managing director of Art Management International, LLC, an art appraisal and art estate planning company.

The final panelist, Ben Ortiz, whose collection is currently in the Gallery, began collecting art as an adolescent.  In nearly four decades, he has amassed a collection of over 1,500 pieces of art that largely focus on figurative works from Caribbean, Latin American and Latino artists.  Currently, works from Ortiz’s collections are being shown in four venues in the area.

There will be a question and answer period following the panel discussion and guests will have the opportunity to view the current exhibition. Refreshments will be served.