Art Hop’s personal look at art
- Published: September 8, 2016
“There is an enormous amount of art in Yellow Springs,” said Nancy Mellon, the gallery coordinator for the Yellow Springs Arts Council. “The whole town is a gallery.”
Anyone taking even a cursory walk through town would find this to be true, considering the numerous galleries, shops and art adorning the streets. But the village is also host to collections of art that not many people get to see — the private collections of Yellow Springs residents. These home collections reflect the life stories of their curators, and are that much more intimate because of it, said Mellon, which is why she helps organize the Art House-Hop, a self-guided walking tour of residents’ personal art collections. “This art is very personal,” Mellon said. “It’s very human to see art in a home.”
This year marks the fourth year that local residents have opened up their homes to fellow art lovers. The 2016 Art House-Hop collector’s showcase will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3. Tickets are $15 per person (children 12 and under free), with the proceeds benefiting the Yellow Springs Arts Council. Interested persons can purchase tickets at the YSAC Gallery or online at ysartscouncil.org. Attendees will get a map and brochure describing each collection when they purchase a ticket. Eight homes will be open to the public this year. The homes can be visited in any order, rain or shine, and at attendees’ own pace. The Arts Council gallery will also be open in conjunction with the tour.
Seeing art in someone’s home makes for a totally different viewing experience than seeing art in a gallery or museum, said Mellon. Everything that people on the tour have in their home is something they’ve picked out because they love it, or because it represents an important time or experience in their lives. A common feature of the House-Hop is the opportunity to hear the why, how and where of each collection explained. And people in Yellow Springs tend to travel a lot, Mellon said, which makes for art from all over the world.
Seeing someone’s personal art collection is also a way to get to know that person better, she said. The art that surrounds them gives viewers a sense of their feelings, memories and dreams. The host’s house and garden is often part of the tour as well, given the architectural flare and bountiful gardens characteristic of many local homes. In setting up their houses for the show, home gallery curators get to know their collections again.
“It’s like greeting an old friend,” she said. “It reminds you of who you were at the time you got it.”
As an example, Mellon pointed to a large portrait above the table where this interview was being conducted, a close-up shot of a glamorous woman with white hair and red lips, looking down her nose at the viewer. The painting is very dramatic, Mellon said, and it reminds her of her own stint as an actress.
“I love her flare, her drama,” she said of the woman in the painting. “Different sides of the art collector come out in the art he or she collects.”
The home of Douglas Klappich and Deborah McGee is one of the homes featured on this year’s tour. They will be displaying their collection of original works from the American Midwest, the Far East and India. The couple is particularly interested in work by indigenous artists and has built up a collection of at least 35 pieces, including five by “father of Native American printmaking” Woody Crumbo. They made their start when living in New Mexico, and have been collecting for 20 years. Some of the pieces were auspicious thrift store finds that turned out to be authentic works. Klappich said he would go to thrift stores to search for relaxation and found he had a knack for finding good paintings.
In fact, it was a piece of art that helped bring Mellon and her husband to Yellow Springs. The couple was looking at places to live in the surrounding areas and had a few towns circled on their map. The towns were partly selected thanks to a “100 best art towns in America”-type list. One of these towns was Yellow Springs. The couple visited some galleries in the course of checking out the town, and a piece of art caught Mellon’s eye. They went back to California undecided, but the next time her husband came through Yellow Springs, he bought her the piece, and that connection essentially sealed their move to the village. As it turned out, the piece was by Corrine Bayraktaroglu, who would become Mellon’s art partner, part of the local art duo the JAFA Girls.
Almost all of the art in Mellon’s own home is by people in town, she said. And even though she is heavily involved in the local art scene, she’ll go to galleries and not even recognize the names of all of the artists. The apparent abundance of artists and the local collection she has amassed says something about the number of people in town who are driven to share the experience of art.
“There is a looseness and a joy when I make art,” she said. “When I haven’t done it in a while, some part of me shrinks. Making art frees me.”
The same sense of joy can be found in those opening their homes to their fellow aficionados, she said. It has never been difficult to find people who are interested in participating in the House Hop, Mellon said. Of the eight people on this year’s tour, only one has participated in the House Hop before.
With the cast of all new participants each year, one has to wonder if the House Hop will exhaust the supply of home galleries to feature. But this is unlikely in a town like Yellow Springs.
“People often ask ‘What happens when you run out of art?’” Mellon said. “That’s not going to happen.”