The Original Collectors Series: Englewood, CO

Steven: I started collecting art right out of school, before Ellen and I got together and it was just me in an apartment. Together, we continued buying art throughout 30 years of marriage, and in the last 10 to 15 years we became quite obsessive.

Ellen: When we were first married, we would go to our friend’s mom’s house for dinner. She had an amazing art collection, lots of Miro and Agam. My love for Agam started there. When we would travel—Napa Valley, the Caribbean, London, Australia—we’d inevitably buy art. Not only did we buy well-known artists, we’d also buy street art.

S: On cruises, our kids would be off playing with friends, and Mommy and Daddy were inside buying art.

E: Our walls were completely covered—up the staircase, going down the hallway. I love color and works that are pieces within pieces. We have a few in the sale, like “Homage to Chagall” by Astahov. It’s his work, but inside is Chagall.

S: When we bought a new piece, we’d often say, we’re going to get rid of this older piece and put this new one in its place. Our collection changed over time, and our insurance agent would go nuts, because he had to update all the paperwork.

E: We started getting into these art circles, getting invited to auctions. We had no willpower when it came to art. We had to not go to an auction, because we knew if we went, we’d buy.

The Original Collectors Series: Englewood, CO
The Original Collectors Series: Englewood, CO
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The Original Collectors Series: Englewood, CO

What’s your advice for people just starting an art collection?

S: You can’t think of any piece as an investment, it’s an expenditure on something to enjoy. Don’t worry about whether it’s going to appreciate in value.

E: I agree. You should buy what you enjoy looking at.

Do you have a favorite piece in the sale?

S: The Chagall etching "Le Village et Paris.” I was always drawn to the fact that the artist worked on this by hand. It came in this gaudy gold frame when we got it, and we took care to move it out of its frame into its current one, which has preservation standard mats and UV protective glass. It hung in our den, where we spend most of our time—so we could look at it daily.

Some of the Tarkays in the sale aren’t typical of his style.

E: Tarkay is known for doing women, but we have a lot of his landscapes.

S: In “After the Rain,” there’s not a drop of water shown in the piece, but it really looks like it just rained. It’s amazing to me that the painting conveys that just by the tones and the way the sky is presented.

E: We did the same thing with Peter Max. A lot of people wouldn’t recognize pieces in the sale as his.

S: His “Lady in Grey,” for example, is not his typical umbrella man, which we also have. It’s a little more muted, more toned down.

You have a lot of frogs in the sale. What’s the story there?

E: That is totally Steven. It started not that long ago, where all of a sudden he’s buying frog everything. I was like, OK…

S: And then we discovered these figurines by an artist that goes by Frogman. I love frogs. I just do.

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