Friday, September 18, 2009

Herb & Dorothy (Rhoades)

“Herb & Dorothy” Collect Art

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

My late father-in-law was a postal worker. So is my brother. Neither of them was wealthy enough to collect fine world-class paintings.

Nor were Herbert Vogel and his wife Dorothy. Herb worked at the post office while his wife stacked books at the library.

But in 1992 Herb and Dorothy donated more than a million dollars worth of world-class minimalist art to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

How they did this is the subject of “Herb & Dorothy,” an interesting little documentary by that’s playing at the Tropic Cinema. In it, filmmaker Megumi Sasaki demonstrates “you don’t have to be a Rockefeller to collect art.

No, Herb or Dorothy didn’t have a secret trust fund. Neither were they Thomas Crown bandits. The couple simply had a good eye for talent and bought the paintings dirt-cheap from unknown artists before they got famous.

And the couple made the purchases on Herb’s postal clerk salary while living on Dorothy’s librarian wages.

When their one-bedroom New York apartment became crowded floor-to-ceiling with their burgeoning collection, they gave the paintings all away and started over. Lucky museum.

When I was on the board of the Key West Art & Historical Society, my favorite part was serving on the Collections Committee. The committee’s job was to review proposed donations to see if the objects – paintings, historic documents, period silverware, you name it – might fit the museum’s mission to preserve the history and art of Key West.

Key West has it’s own Herb and Dorothy’s. Many KWAHS donations come from generous, but not wealthy people, who donate art to the museum in order to share it with the rest of the Key West Community. Some of the wonderful Mario Sanchez paintings on display at the Custom House and Fort East Martello Museums were donated by locals. Most of these donors could have sold their Sanchez works for a healthy profit, but chose to keep these paintings in the community. Bravo!

Go to our local museums to see these collections. And meanwhile “Herb & Dorothy” will give you a hint about the passion – and obsession – of art collectors.
[from Solares Hill]

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