Becoming An Art Lover

Anderson Ranch Art Piece 2018 Anderson Ranch Arts Center is a gem in the communities of Snowmass and Aspen. It is an art center that cultivates the creative in all of us by conducting classes in ceramics to wood-turning, paintings to photography. Anderson Ranch also helps us learn about the ever-changing happenings in the contemporary art world by offering residencies to well known artists and a visiting artist lecture series with many of the leading artists of our time.

I have been Curator of the Summer Live and Silent Auction for the past five years. How did I become its’ curator? I have collected art for over 25 years, including established artists, but my real love has been supporting emerging artists from the next generation along with the galleries who have invested in their work. There is nothing like sharing the excitement with young artists when you buy their art. Seeing their newly found confidence is a rush that never gets old.

There are many emerging and mid-career artists represented at the Ranch’s auction. Because of my love of putting art and people together, I try to get into the minds of buyers at the Anderson Ranch and Art Center’s auction. I divided the presentation of the auction into different mediums: Painting/Drawings, Ceramics, Sculpture, Wood and Metals, Jewelry…so that a buyer can view in total all that he/she might be interested in. We have separated the Live Auction to those high end works by more well known and emerging artists, and reduced it, in recent years, from 40 items to no more than 25. We developed the Curator’s Choice for some of my favorite pieces, (10-20 items), some that deserve attention not in the live auction, higher end works, and some very reasonable priced pieces. We hope that this designation helps the more inexperienced buyers’ get the sense of what is “good enough to like.”

Putting the art together, I love finding pieces that “talk to each other,” showing a buyer how they might buy a few pieces of art that work together. And I love seeing the whole event come together and people excited about finding that special piece(s) that they want to bring home. That is why I started this love of curating art events and auctions. After many years of being on the Board at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, meeting hundreds of young artists, and running their art sale, the largest in the country, I honed my skills in learning how to both present art in their various mediums, for a wide range of audiences, and how to sell art to the seasoned collector as well as the newer buyers. Curating over 42 walls of art for a one night event in Boston called ARTcetera, I continued to learn that by presenting the art in a way that enhances the viewer’s experience, helping them see art pieces that may work in tandem, it can make it easier for them to purchase what they love. I became an art consultant 12 years ago for the same reason: to put people together with art that moves them, enhancing their space so that going to work, or coming home is always an uplifting and pleasing experience. It is a thrill to understand a client’s aesthetic, “getting” what a client likes, and helping them love where they live or work.

Most importantly, giving a leg up to arts organizations, and assisting them in helping to raise needed funds in order to continue their important work is now more important than ever. Selling the art is always at the forefront of my mind when curating. The auction is a feel good way to buy art!

So, “Is it okay to like this?” is the question I most get, or “What do you think?” My answer always is “If YOU like it that is all that matters. If it makes your heart go ‘pitter patter’ and you want to live with it, THAT is the best reason to dive into the art world!

Barbara Lee



Barbara Lee

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