Not long ago we asked members to suggest topics
for our the newsletter. You said that you wanted to
learn more about building a collection, or how to give
a museum gift, or planning for the disposition of an
entire collection or a single valuable piece. There
seems no better time than the present to explore
these topics as this year we've seen two of the
foremost contemporary jewelry collections gifted to
In this newsletter we explore museum gifts and loans.
Next month we'll shift our focus to bequests and
estate planning. There is a lot of ground to cover,
|AJF Business News
Recommendations to Board. The AJF
Nominating Committee has completed polling the
membership and has presented the current Board
with a proposed slate of new officers. At the August
meeting the Board will officially accept the slate and
will announce new officers in the September
Volunteers Welcome. Here's your chance to
help with our many programs. If you are interested in
increasing your AJF involvement, please let us know.
There are opportunities (large and small). It is easy to
learn more, just send an email using the "Quick
Link" and we'll be in touch to explore the
25 Members Bound for Houston Our trip to
Houston for the exhibition opening of the Helen
Williams Drutt collection sold out within days of the
announcement. It is the largest group of members
ever to participate in an AJF trip. For those of you not
making the trip rest assured we will publish a trip
overview in the October newsletter.
|The Art of Collecting
There are as many definitions of a collection as there
are collectors. When noted art collector and
philanthropist Eugene Thaw was asked how he
would define the art of collecting, he answered with
this beautiful explanation: "It's about making some
sense out of a group (large or small) of related
objects that you've accumulated and having each one
reinforce the others. You should always be reaching
for better examples than what you have, and you
should find out what you're missing, too, so you can fill
in the blank spaces. It's an intellectual activity. I
collect to learn and when I feel I have learned my way
around a field enough to have a well-rounded
collection I give it away -- to museums. I no longer
need to physically possess works of art, I have them
in my mind's eye."
The universal truth seems to be that collectors
complement their passion with intelligence to build a
meaningful collection. Here are suggestions that may
prove helpful as you build your collection:
- Visit as many galleries as you can, gallery owners
can be helpful guides.
- Join local art museums and introduce yourself to
curators. Share your collecting interests with them.
- AJF offers opportunities to talk to other collectors
and find out what they know and what they have
learned about collecting.
- Read! Read anything you can find that relates to
your collecting interests - art, art history, reviews and
- Visit universities that have jewelry programs.
Introduce yourself to the faculty and share your
collection with students. Take a history of adornment
class or metals workshop.
- Formulate your personal collecting philosophy and
define the unifying characteristics of your
- Document your collection. Keep good records on
each artist and each purchase.
- When you see a piece that you love, it fits
nicely in your collection and you know it will bring your
joy -- buy it, wear it and share it.
|Museum Gifts and Loans
Discovering how objects came into the museum is
an interesting aspect of any exhibition -- some
donated, others loaned, some given as a bequest or
purchased with donated funds. Collectors and
curators need each other, collectors for the work a
museum desires and curators for bringing the
work to the museum. For both the museum and donor
there may be tax and legal considerations, for these
reasons most museums offer highly personalized,
full service consulting resources for all types of
Private collectors are often asked to lend their art for
exhibitions. By giving the work public visibility you
support the museum and the artist. Additionally,
loaning may have the added benefit of enhancing the
value of an object through public visibility. There are a
number of considerations to take into account when
loaning a piece to a museum including: value, term of
the loan, insurance and liability, transportation and
packing, photographic rights, exhibition and labeling
and security. These and other considerations are
articulated in a loan agreement document signed by
both the lender and the museum. It is important to
have photographs of the item and documentation
that supports your purchase. Your insurance
agent is a valuable resource should you have
Assuming your heirs are not keeping their fingers
crossed in hopes that your beloved art jewelry will
some day be theirs, then you may want to consider
making a gift of your jewelry. Gifts are of great benefit
to museums, universities and non-profit
organizations. Gifts have been responsible for the
growth and enhancement of many permanent
Gifts can be wonderfully simple, flexible and easy to
make. There are many benefits of making a gift of art
either during your lifetime or by bequest. You
guarantee that your treasured piece will be cared for to
the highest standards. You gain a charitable
deduction for tax purposes and the removal of
items subject to
estate tax on the value of those objects. Through your
gift, the artist is celebrated and the art form is
preserved and displayed for the scholarship and
enjoyment of generations to come. If you are
considering making a gift, explore all the potential
recipients, consider all the options, weigh the tax
considerations and most importantly enjoy the
process of giving. Once you have found the best place
for your pieces you should document your intent to
give. Museums can provide appropriate language for
updating your will or assist you in documenting a
current gift to the museum.
|Thoughts on Wearing and Giving
As the opening of the Houston MFA exhibition
Ornament as Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the
Helen Williams Drutt Collection approaches we
salute Helen for her generous gift and quote her here:
"An independent observer, free from politics
and board restrictions, affords the artist freedom from
oblivion. Our museums are filled with objects
donated by those whose spirit of adventure and
passion have recorded the taste of their time. By
wearing the jewelry, these individuals stimulate
inquiry. A golden triangle is formed -- artist, object
"Adornment: The Magazine of Jewelry & Related
Arts" has announced its upcoming conference, A
Time: Jewelry within the Context of the Decorative Arts.
The conference will examine personal ornament as a
decorative art form. The event will be held at the
Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC on October 6th
7th. Speakers will address the ideology, inspirational
sources, motifs, and techniques common to jewelry
and its sister arts. It will also consider the ways in
which jewelry is unique among the arts. For
conference details and registration forms, contact
Adornment at (914) 286-7685, or visit the conference's
Web site using the "Quick Link".
In the Forum
We are pleased to begin our discussion of gifts and
loans with a two-part interview with Kelly L'Ecuyer.
is responsible for moving the gift of Daphne Farago's
jewelry collection into the care of the museum and
holds the title of the Ellyn McColgan
Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts and
Sculpture, Art of the Americas. She was interviewed
by AJF founding member Susan Cummins.
Susan: Kelly, can you tell us the story of how
Daphne decided to put together a jewelry collection?
Kelly: Daphne collected American folk art for
many years before turning her attention to studio craft,
and especially studio jewelry. She has always loved
things that are handmade and that reveal the
individuality of the maker. So in a way, the transition
from folk art to contemporary studio craft was a natural
progression in her collecting. She has told me that
she began collecting artist-made contemporary
jewelry in about 1989, beginning gradually with the
work of a few artists, like Bruce Metcalf or Mary Lee
Hu, whose work strongly appealed to her. As she
continued to learn about the field, looking at new work,
visiting galleries and museums, always looking for
the best quality works -- she broadened her reach
until her collection comprised more than 700 objects
by well over 200 artists.
Susan: What were her criteria for adding new
into the collection?
Kelly: She has always sought excellence and
that give her "joy." I think that sense of pleasure and
personal connection to the work has always been her
foremost criteria in part because she really wears this
jewelry on a daily basis. She feels that it is the
collector's role not only to buy the works of living
artists, but to help carry their ideas and their message
to the world by wearing this art in daily life.
This idea of wearing jewelry to make it a kind of public
art guided her collecting in that she tended to acquire
works that could actually be worn, at least for short
periods, and that relate to the body in a meaningful
way. She generally avoided works that veered into
performance art, like some of the more radical
experiments of the late 1970s. This is not to say she
avoided provocative jewelry -- she collected daring
pieces like Jan Yager's crack vial necklace -- but the
basic relationship of jewelry to the wearer was
important to her.
Daphne is a true collector with an extraordinary
eye for quality. She sought out works that represent
the best of a particular artist's production. In other
words, she didn't buy a lot of minor works in order to
collect important "names." So many artists I've spoken
to have said to me in more or less these
words: "Daphne only wanted our best work."
Susan: Did she know she was putting
together a "museum quality" collection from the
beginning? Did she seek advice from curators?
Kelly: Quite early on in the process of building
the collection, Daphne decided that she wanted to
form a collection that a museum would want. I am
most impressed at how thoroughly she educated
herself: by looking at jewelry, by reading, by talking to
curators and dealers and artists. She was incredibly
active in this regard, always curious and engaged and
fascinated with the field.
She took advice from a number of dealers and
curators who helped put her in touch with artists and
helped her evaluate works for acquisition. She knew
how to seek help from trusted advisors so that she
could make good decisions. But she really did
her "homework," and this is evidenced by the
tremendous library of jewelry books and catalogues
she amassed and gave to the MFA along with her
collection. There are a couple hundred publications,
mostly museum exhibition catalogues and rare, out-of-
print gallery publications, and they are all marked up
with her notes about pieces she purchased or
considered purchasing. They are a librarian's
nightmare because they are full of post-it notes and
marks in the margins, but they are a curator's dream.
Along with all these publications, she kept meticulous
files on each artist and work of art in her collection,
with all her invoices, receipts, correspondence, and
magazine clippings. Again, this kind of record-
keeping is a curator's dream and it shows her
thoughtful and intelligent approach to forming a
museum-quality collection. If there is such a thing as
a professional collector, Daphne would be it.
- Bob Ebendorf, "Lost Soul Found Spirits"
Neckpiece, 1999. Iron, aluminum, sterling silver, crab
claws. Museum Gift of Sienna Patti to the Mint
Museum of Art.
- Keith Lewis, "Heart Orgy" brooch, 2001.
silver, 24k gold. Exhibition loan by Sally von Bargen to
Fuller Craft Museum for the 2006 exhibition The
Edges of Grace: Provocative, Uncommon Craft.
- Kiff Slemmons, "Wrist Flick II" Bracelet,
Sterling silver, photographs, mica. Mint Museum
purchase, funds provided by Sharon and Craig
- Marcia Macdonald, "If You Sit Still You Can
Off the Mask" Neckpiece. Silver, gold leaf, wood.
Promised gift of Sharon Campbell to the Tacoma