Collecting art, collecting stories

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My Abby McLauren painting, foreground, is part of the “Beaumont Collects 2” exhibit t the Dishman Art Museum.

The Dishman Art Museum on the Lamar University campus hosted a pair of shows, Jan. 19 through March 2. I wrote about them for ISSUE magazine.

One of the shows, “Beaumont Collects,” features work by Southeast Texas collectors. My partner, Ramona, and I were honored to have three pieces featured in the show. Two were from our shared collection, a piece by my friend George Wentz and another by former Art Studio tenant Abbie McLaurin, both acquired through our friendships as fellow artists.

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Ramona Young poses with Jerry Newman’s drawing of her from the 1973 State Fair of Texas.

Ramona’s piece by renowned Southeast Texas artist Jerry Newman has the best story. Newman was Regents Professor of art and Professor Emeritus at Lamar University where he taught for 42 years and has a list of awards too long to list.

But this particular piece is a small drawing of Ramona from when she was a child. It was drawn at the South Texas State Fair where Newman has a booth in the early 1970s. Looking back at the man’s career and seeing the accolades, it is fascinating to think of him whipping out $5 drawings for passersby.

The drawing keeps adding to its story. We told Newman’s widow, Pattee, the story of the piece and she regaled us with anecdotes of him at the fair, how they got together (the fair features in that story, too), and their life together. The piece led us to a friendship and a new chapter in the work’s journey.

Collecting art is about the relationship one has to the piece. Our ownership is just part of the artwork’s story. Once the art is released by the artist into the world it goes its own way. Being part of the story is part of the joy of collecting.

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