The Original Collectors Series: Rosalyn, Chicago, IL

“My aunt Rosalyn was a private art consultant for a lot of high-end individuals and businesses in Chicago. She was 10 years younger than my mom and 13 years older than me, so she was always more like a big sister to me than an aunt. From the earliest time I can remember, she always loved the arts. We’d go on field trips to all the museums in Chicago, and the Art Institute was her favorite. She just lit up when she was there.

Rosalyn was a single parent for many years and had to support herself. She started as a secretary at the sanitation department in Chicago and moved up to become an executive there. But she was still always involved in the arts, even if not yet professionally. It was a burning passion inside her. Later in life, she married a man who shared that passion. They traveled a lot, and at some point, met an art distributor in California. Her husband said, ‘You know so many people. Why don’t you start hosting showcases?’

She started with a show in a friend’s home, and this connection in California supplied her with pieces by Erté, Agam, McKnight, Vasarely—artists who were popular in the 70s. It took off from there. She would host showcases in her own home and she started making connections. She was a great networker—that is what made her so successful. People started calling her to come to their homes and create a certain ambience through art, and then the corporate world started calling. She even had custom pieces commissioned for clients. She went from something small to something very big.

Most of the pieces in this collection hung in her home. She often fell in love with things while shopping for her clients. Erté’s 3 Women hung in her dining room. She loved that sophistication, his elegance and fanciness. The two Dalís in the sale were her favorites of his. The Chagall etching hung in her hallway, which was lined on both sides with art. Guests had to walk down the hallway to get to the powder room, so it was a great display spot. Her apartment had art in every room.” — Lynn, niece

The Original Collectors Series: Rosalyn,  Chicago, IL
The Original Collectors Series: Rosalyn,  Chicago, IL
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The Original Collectors Series: Rosalyn,  Chicago, IL

Did you attend any of your aunt’s showcases?

A couple, but I was young and stayed in the background. My aunt was absolutely the entertainer. It was party, selling, and entertaining all at the same time. She was really creative in everything she did, and entertaining was part of it. She used to do Passover for our family, and she made it really fun. Instead of regular Passover food, she’d incorporate all the ingredients but make a Chinese dinner.

How did she influence you?

We had a great bond. She brought me to everything in the cultural field when I was young. I used to love going to art fairs and I think a lot of that was based on my aunt taking me around and explaining things to me. I wanted to create a kind of year-round art fair, which is when I opened up my own store. She would bring me a lot of clients.

Any favorite memories of your aunt?

She was so creative. And always dressed up, you never saw her without perfect makeup. One day I saw her in the hospital after she’d had surgery. Her hair was messed up, so she made sure she had a wig in her hospital room so she could look perfect. Full makeup, everything.

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