These dynamic local collectors are not solely interested in what is “pretty”, but in being surrounded with visual expression that will continue to keep them engaged. The 2009 views included works by masters like Marcel Duchamp, Richter, Polke, and Warhol; renowned international artists William Kentridge, Tony Cragg, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Anish Kapoor; and D.C. bred talents Colby Caldwell, Graham Caldwell, and Ian Whitmore. Collections also featured Chinese contemporary artist Gen Aihara, assistant to Hiroshi Sugimoto; emerging talents Benjamin Jurgensen and Trevor Young; and the work of folk art masters Mary T. Smith and Chris Clark.
The consistent message shared by all the committed, sometimes admittedly “obsessed” collectors on how and why works were acquired, is that they collect artwork that speaks to them and continually peaks their curiosity. Of course, not many people can go out and purchase a Duchamp or a Richter, but several of the collectors’ works by highly regarded names were purchased when the artists were just starting out. It is possible to discover the next big thing. So – what’s in vogue to collect right now? My best advice is to follow the lead of these exceptional collectors and take risks, defy conformity, and keep experimenting.
Washington’s contemporary art community is growing, and there are standout non-profits and commercial galleries presenting and selling work by exceptional artists. Of course come visit Transformer – but also visit our neighbors and colleagues, including: G Fine Art, Curator’s Office, Hemphill Fine Art, Adamson Gallery, Conner Contemporary, Civilian Art Projects, Honfluer Gallery, Washington Printmakers, Washington Project for the Arts, and DCAC. Visit individual artists’ studios too. At least one of these galleries and studios will have something that captures your interest.