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SANTA FEAN MAGAZINE - OCTOBER 2007

FRAME OF MIND
By Hollis Walker

 

Lynn Marchand and George Goldstein decided that a recent addition to their collection, a large painting by Albuquerque artist Jennifer Nehrbass, simply had to be hung in the foyer of their home. The realist painting, after Manet's Olympia, features a nude reclining woman wearing swim goggles, a bathing cap, and a strange device strategically placed‑composed of two tiny circulating fans, a short length of plumbing pipe, and a ribbon. The painting is titled Splendor Me. "It prepares people for the rest of the collection," George explains. "It's not an easy collection for some people." That might be an understatement When the couple put their Los Angeles‑area home on the market a few years ago, their realtor walked through, pointing at artwork she advised them to take down while the house was for sale. One of them was California artist Michael Hussar's Pandora, which now hangs in the living room, not far from the Nehrbass piece. It shows a dead woman lying on a bier and swathed in black, with a baby at her breast "It really scared the realtor," George recalls, not without a certain delight. The couple declined to remove any of the pieces; the California house sold anyway.

Splendor Me and Pandora are typical of the couple's collection‑hundreds of paintings, drawings, and sculptures that are often whimsical, sometimes macabre‑which focuses largely on figurative works, each exquisitely rendered and celebrating the human condition in all its glory. Their home, just above Museum Hill, is an exuberant declaration of their collective taste, and emblematic of the primary place art has come to play in their lives. Married in 1968. the pair have lived in New Mexico off and on since the 1970s. George is semi‑retired from a career in government and corporate health care; he continues to serve on the boards of several companies and foundations, and as treasurer and a trustee for the National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation. Lynn's career focused on education and public service; now she devotes her time to local arts organizations including the Center for Contemporary Arts and the Museum of New Mexico's Friends of Contemporary Art. Both are on SITE Santa Fe's Foundation Council, and two years ago established an art endowment through the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

The two most recently returned to live full‑time in Santa Fe in 2003, when they purchased their current residence, a 5,000‑square‑foot contemporary Territorial. Last year, they completed a two‑year project in which the backyard, portal, and surrounding gardens were designed and built by landscape architect Catherine Clemens, of Clemens & Associates, to complement their large sculpture collection. "They wanted a garden that was art," says Clemens, who admits most sculptural garden requests tend to be very stark and simple. "They really wanted an artful space that was as visually interesting as their collection ... and their comfort level with dramatic, big elements made working with them a lot of fin." They also collaborated on the 1.300‑square‑foot guesthouse they have dubbed the "Art Annex," in the place of the former basketball court In it, richly colored, gently curving walls delineate space and echo the lines that Clemens continued throughout the landscape. The couple have collected art for more than three decades, beginning with a $30 plaster sculpture George bought at a student art show with money he borrowed from Lynn. They agree on art "6o percent of the time," Lynn asserts, although she says she's had to persuade George, who initially preferred three dimensional work, to venture into different media.

First, Lynn says, she convinced him to begin to appreciate painting as much as sculpture. "Then, after I got him into painting, I couldn't get him to consider works on paper as having as much aesthetic value," she complains jokingly. But she prevailed; by the time they constructed the guesthouse, they'd decided to dedicate the new space to their growing collection of works on paper. "I'm working on [getting him interested in] drawings now," Lynn quips. "But I've really come around," George protests, offering, "for example, I really like Victoria Carlson," a Santa Fe painter of figurative watercolors rich with innuendo and metaphor. Carlsori's works, including one owned by Lynn and George, were selected by curator Elizabeth Sussman of the Whitney Museum of Art for an exhibition this spring at the New Mexico Museum of Art Now the couple own several of her works on paper, which hang in the Art Annex and in Lynn's dressing room. Sussman hasn't been the only museum curator who appreciates their aesthetic. Lynn and George have loaned works for other exhibitions at the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Las Vegas (Ncv.) Museum of Fine Art the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, New York, and Santa Fe's Center for Contemporary Arts.

The couple hang the art they both feel most passionate about in the public areas of their home. The living dining area's diamond‑plaster walls are replete with large‑scale figurative paintings by New Mexico artists including Geoffrey Laurence, Stacy Brown, and Ray Aheyta. as well as santos by contemporary Spanish Colonial artist Arthur Lopez. Several California artists are represented as well, in two paintings by Jorg Dubin and the Hussar Pandora. The artworks share space with lush carpets and upholstered and leather furnishings in Far Eastern motifs dominated by rich reds. The wide dining table is an early‑19th‑century carved wooden door from India with an inset glass top. Lynn says that for some people, their interior design style is like their art collection over the top, so to speak. "It's almost like living in a bazaar." she says. "the pattern‑on‑pattern, the color, the layering." George picks up the thread of her thought The effect they're trying to achieve, he explains, is similar to the experience of walking into a major market in Istanbul, where the smell of spices, sounds of hawkers, and sights of wildly effusive colors and forms almost overwhelm the senses. In a good way, of course.

It's hard to envision where new works could fit into the visual marketplace the two have created, but they continue to acquire more art; their "favorites" have just meandered down the hallways toward the bedrooms. In fact they have acquired about 25 percent of their collection since returning to Santa Fe in 2003, they say, buying at galleries, charity auctions, and, more recently, at art fairs including Art Miami Basel, the Los Angeles Art Fair, and Art Santa Fe. Theirs is not a collection of "brand‑name" artists, Lynn says, but of artists whose work speaks to them on a deep level. They also often buy the work of emerging artists: "I feel it's almost my civic duty," she says.

George has become enamored in recent years with contemporary ceramics, "thanks to our friend Sandy Besser," a major ceramics collector who lives in Santa Fe. George recently bought Pg in the Wind, an earthenware pig's head set on a copper platter by ceramist Joe Bova; it now resides on the kitchen's center island. "Every time I get into a new media, it's like learning a new language," he says. "New artists, new gallerists. It starts with the heart and stomach and eventually gets to the head." I‑Ic prefers "art with an edge‑art that can be appreciated on multiple intellectual levels.

Both he and Lynn now are becoming interested in new media, including video and digital works, and, in George's case, kinetic art.

George cites Lynn, who minored in art history in college, as his greatest influence. "1 trust my instinct" he says. "I can't think of anyone who was a major influence, except Lynn, who has dragged me to every art museum in every country we ve ever been to." Lynn demurs that she is mostly self taught "I do a lot of reading. I like [art critics Arthur] Danto and [Dave] Hickey I love thinking about art in that way. But I still can't answer the question 'What is art?'

Living with their art makes a palpable difference in their lives. George says that after purchasing a new piece, they typically place it on the floor, leaning against a wall or piece of furniture, before hanging it "He comes home, gets a Scotch‑‑it's so endearing and sits down and just looks at things," Lynn explains.

"It's therapeutic," George says. "I keep a new piece in a 'staging area' for months, just so I keep passing it I'll just stand in front of a piece and stare at a single brushstroke."

At the time of this writing. two new brightly colored paintings by Laurie Hogin‑American Family and U.S. Agricultural Policy‑lean against a trunk in the living room. The works feature hybrid human monkey characters in wry parodies of American culture, and they await the couple's decision about where they should hang: with their "relatives," Hogin's smaller paintings of apish characters, nearby in the dining room or with her angry chickens in the hallway? It's Hogin's "wickedly ironic sense of humor" that has captivated the couple, Lynn says.

But she notes, she doesn't think the maker's intention is paramount to appreciating a work of art "The artist's opinion is no more important than the viewer's," she insists. 'Artists who don't understand that are underestimating their own work and the power of the unconscious to work through them." l

 
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