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The art collection of Richard Lapedes and Maureen Lynch will be one of seven local collections available for viewing for the Saturday, Sept. 7 Art House Hop, which is a fundraiser for the Yellow Springs Arts Council. (Photo by Anisa Kline)

The art collection of Richard Lapedes and Maureen Lynch will be one of seven local collections available for viewing for the Saturday, Sept. 7 Art House Hop, which is a fundraiser for the Yellow Springs Arts Council. (Photo by Anisa Kline)

Yellow Springs Arts Council Art House Hop— Local homes a museum for a day

When Yellow Springs Arts Council gallery coordinator Nancy Mellon first moved to Yellow Springs 10 years ago, she helped put together a show of various artists’ interpretations of iconic buildings in and around Yellow Springs. As she reached out to people who might be able to lend something from their personal collection, she realized just how many villagers collect art.

“I got to meet some really neat people that way,” she says, “and I learned, ‘Wow, there are a lot of people here who collect art.’ Over the last few years I’ve learned just how important those people are to the artists in town.”

This perspective laid the foundation for the YSAC’s upcoming fundraiser, The Art House Hop. Held on Saturday, Sept. 7 from noon to five, the event is a self-guided tour of seven different private collections in Yellow Springs. The $10 tickets, which can be bought at the Yellow Springs Arts Council gallery during gallery hours, the Village Artisans shop on Corry Street, at the Kings Yard Farmer’s Market on Saturday and also through the YSAC’s website, will come with a map of the houses to be visited and brief descriptions of each collection. Participants can then visit the collections at their leisure, spending as much or as little time at each house as they wish.

“This is a celebration of a very special group of people in this town,” says Mellon. “For every artist you need someone who will appreciate the art.”

One of those people is Jane Baker, who, with her late husband, Bill, has been collecting art since 1972.

“I grew up outside of New York City,” Baker says of her lifelong attraction to art. “I spent a lot of time in art museums and my parents also appreciated art.”

This background influenced the Bakers when they remodeled their house and decided to prioritize spaces for various artistic mediums.

“The idea was to have a library, an art gallery and a little concert hall that we could also live in,” says Baker, and her home, with built-in bookshelves, a centrally located piano, and walls filled with art from all over the world, has accomplished that goal.

“It’s a very eclectic collection,” says Baker of the art that adorns her walls. “There are pieces by local artists such as Gerry Fogarty, Liz Visick and Julie Carlson and stuff from around the world.” As an example, one can study her wall of masks, which includes pieces given by friends returning from international trips as well as work by local artist Lisa Goldberg and Dayton artist Bing Davis.

“I hope people get the impression that it’s a lot of fun to fill your house with art,” says Baker of the kind of experience she hopes Art House Hoppers will have in her home, “and you don’t have to be rich to do it.”

“I hope this experience encourages everybody, in any way they wish, to live an artful life,” agrees fellow participant Richard Lapedes. “Anyone can do it if they care.”

Although Lapedes also describes their collection as eclectic, he and his wife, Maureen Lynch, primarily focus on contemporary art and craft because, according to Lapedes, contemporary work reflects the times we live in and the ethos they hope to be a part of.

“I have three criteria for a successful piece of art,” says Lapedes of what he looks for in a work. “I ask, first: What metaphor does the piece of art project? Second, is it visually stimulating? And finally, does it make room for the viewer to participate in the dialogue with the artist?”

“We don’t collect art per se,” says Lapedes. “We live with art. It’s what we surround ourselves with.” As with Baker, this perspective has influenced not just what the couple puts on the walls of their home, but the design of the house as well.

“We invested in the house’s architectural design as a piece of art,” he says. “There are conceptual things in the house that enhance our daily state.”

This also includes much of the furniture, such as an old suitcase of Lapedes’ father, which he repurposed as a coffee table, and ceramic stools and dishes all made by local ceramicist Michael Jones.

“This is a specific way of living with art,” says Lapedes of the functional aspect of many of the pieces in his home.

The fact that all the collections in the tour include many works by local artists is one of the things that Nancy Mellon finds most exciting about the fundraiser.

“The collectors in town hold the history of our art,” says Mellon. “We don’t have a museum, and so they’re our museum. They provide a connection through time with our artists.”

In addition to giving villagers a chance to experience a history of local art, Mellon is grateful that art which is now mostly experienced privately will be available for a wider audience to appreciate.

“The people on the tour are giving a gift by opening up their space,” she says. “It’s lovely that the work is being cherished in a home but the rest of us haven’t seen those pieces for a long time. This is a chance for people to see some old friends” meaning past work by local artists, some of whom have passed away or stopped producing much work.

This also applies to the Colbert Collection, parts of which will be on display at a central location. Belonging to the late Chuck and Rita Colbert, the collection is known for its array of international artifacts, much of which was produced by indigenous peoples from around the world. After the Colberts passed away, their son left the collection in the care of a villager for safekeeping and parts of it are being taken out for this event.

“It was really an exceptional collection,” says Julia Cady of the Yellow Springs Arts Council. “People have heard about it, but unless you were in their home you wouldn’t have seen it,” and so the fundraiser offers villagers a unique opportunity to experience the work.

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