To Collect and Preserve

Local arts collector Hannah Porter shares, from left, “Homage to Sheelar” by Jim Zlokovich and “Madonna” by Greg Allen. Seven other local collectors also share their pieces at Sheppard Art Gallery.

Local arts collector Hannah Porter shares, from left, “Homage to Sheelar” by Jim Zlokovich and “Madonna” by Greg Allen. Seven other local collectors also share their pieces at Sheppard Art Gallery.

Photo By David Robert

Eight local collectors of art share their prized obsessions at Sheppard Art Gallery’s current exhibition, To Collect and Preserve. Varied styles and media are presented in a slightly funky display of art that’s been “lived with,” explains Marji Vecchio, the new curator of the Sheppard. Vecchio is referring to the way pictures are hung on the gallery walls at different levels and various spacing, which echoes the over-the-couch look she’d seen in the homes. “One to four examples of art from each collection are not really enough to show the diversity I found in the Reno area,” she says.

A brief background of the collectors:

Randy and Amy Collins are bike shop owners, who often work for trades of art.

Nello Gonfiantini is a big-time, serious collector of art from around the world.

Dr. James Herz is a local elder statesman with impressive paintings from regional favorites dating back to 1923.

Margo Piscevich is a mover/shaker local arts supporter. She shares her collection with everyone from friends to office co-workers at her law firm.

Peter and Nancy Pool live out the art collectors’ dream life with work from nationally renowned photographers in a home designed by Will Bruder, architect of the Nevada Museum of Art.

Hanna and Bruce Porter collect work from established and emerging local artists in comfortable retirement style.

John and Dana Richardson focus their collecting eye on work of locals Sophie Sheppard and Jeff Nicholson.

Frank Hill is a scrutinizing man in his 50s, who answers his phone with the greeting, “Frank.” He likes to describe the world of art through stories, names—many names—and always with a point to make at the end of each recollection. Paraphrasing what he learned from a conversation with prominent international artist David Hockney, he says the survival of the art world “rests solely in the lap of collectors. If it wasn’t for them, nothing would be going on.”

He continues, “It’s totally an obsession to collect art. Collectors are the people that have 200,000 pieces of art. They are obsessed, yes, and often their eye is more tuned in than the artists themselves.”

How does he know?

“My past is in research and acquisition of art for private, corporate and public clients,” says Hill, who has a pretty extensive art collection himself from Nevada and regional artists.

Hanna Porter, with her vibrant German accent, displays her enthusiasm for the art world she knows personally in Reno by describing the moments she acquired two paintings in the current Sheppard show.

“When [now Texas-based painter] Greg Allen was in Reno, he came to the house to deliver a painting I had bought from him, and he asked if I’d like to see this one, ‘Madonna,’ out there,” says Porter, pointing toward the street. “I loved it so much, I bought it right outta the van.”

She continues with the second story: “Jim Zlokovich’s piece ‘Homage to Sheeler’ was on display in last year’s Artouring show at NMA. I told my husband, Bruce, that he must see this painting, and soon after, for my birthday, he delivered the oil painting to me in a pizza box.”

Porter says art collecting should not be intimidating.

“I want people to know that the average Joe can collect art,” she says. “With 2 or 3 hundred dollars, get started. Don’t worry about what others think about it.”

She concludes, “Blank walls give me no imagination.”