TIDELINES Blog is pleased to welcome fellow Seabrooker Barbara Burgess as the latest addition to our company of special columnists. In an upcoming five-part essay, Barbara will offer tips for navigating the sometimes daunting world of art collection. Barbara’s knowledge of the topic has been gleaned from her own multi-year experiences in building a collection that now resides in the prestigious Burroughs-Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach.
The five part series, entitled “How to Become a Collector: It’s Easier Than You Think!”, will cover topics that include getting to know the artists; developing a theme; training your eye; watching your pocketbook; and gifting or selling your collection. The series should be both informative and inspiring to anyone who is even the least bit intimidated at the prospect of buying fine art, no matter how large or modest the goal.
Watch for the first installment coming soon, and continue this post to read more about Barbara’s unplanned vocation as an art collector.
Barbara and her late husband, John Dinkelspiel, moved to Seabrook in 1996. Initially, Barbara continued commuting to Washington, D.C. to perform her job as a lawyer/ lobbyist for John Hancock Life Insurance. She retired at the beginning of 2001, taking up full time residence on the Island.
Barbara and her husband began collecting art in 1998, inspired by the views from their new home overlooking marsh, the Kiawah River and the Atlantic Ocean. Around that time, they also met the Charleston artist Jonathan Green through a mutual friend and art collector. Their first purchase of art was Green’s “The Escorting of Ruth”.
Over the next ten years, Barbara and John went on to amass a collection of 53 pieces of art by 14 artists, all of them Southern. Twenty-one pieces of their collection were by Jonathan Green. Many pieces in the collection were done by local artists such as Linda Karl, Corrie McCollum, Chris Ritsch, Sybil West, Cassandra Gillens, Richard Hegerty and Lynn Hardwicke. As their collection grew in size, finding places to display it became increasingly difficult. The collection needed a new home.
Over time, Barbara and John had developed a friendship with Pat Goodwin, Executive Director of the Burroughs-Chapin Museum of Myrtle Beach. One day, Barbara called Pat and asked if the Museum would be interested in owning their collection of Southern art. They were delighted to receive and act on the offer.
The first showing of the collection (aptly called “Passionate Collectors”) took place in April, 2009. Many of the artists represented in the collection were present to see their work displayed in a museum, some acquiring museum status for the first time. At this show, Barbara and John knew they had made the right decision with their collection.
When one sees other people looking at paintings you have owned, learning from them, discovering new worlds (many of them from cultures that do not exist any longer but for the artists’ brush), it is one of the most satisfying feelings imaginable. And to watch children learning from the art is one of the more important consequences of having assembled a collection. As a side note, donating or selling art to a museum can also be financially advantageous.
In 2013, Barbara became inspired to write about what collecting art was like. She did not consider that she would ever be an art collector, but she had learned some basic rules of collecting which she thought were worth passing on to others who might be so inclined.
The basic lesson is that being a collector is not as difficult as it sounds; it takes some discipline, perhaps developing a good eye, but it is quite possible to do. Barbara hopes her five-part essay on “How to Become a Collector: It’s Easier Than You Think!” might inspire others to do the same.
–Prepared by Barbara Burgess and TIDELINES Editors