Meet the collector: Seana in Charlotte, NC

I'm so excited to introduce you all to Seana, an art collector in North Carolina. Seana was the first stranger I reached out to on Instragram, and I'm so grateful she was interested in doing one of these interviews. Not only is her collection fantastic, but her insight and photography are too. I knew it would be good, from following her on Instagram, but seriously, y'all, I feel like I'm scooping Domino here. ;) Enjoy!

Seana, Charlotte, NC

Seana headshot

Who/what inspired you to start collecting art?

I was inspired after visiting the home of a senior executive at my former company who was also an avid collector of art.  He has a very valuable, multi-million dollar collection displayed across every inch of wall space within his home.  There were literally hundreds of paintings throughout his stately Greenwich, CT home--hung barely a couple of inches apart.  I was captivated.  I knew almost nothing about art and had never seen anything like this before: a home brimming with art such that it felt like you were immersed in an artistic wonderland.  Although many of the pieces were raw and embodied a folk art style, the level of sophistication with they were framed and displayed was breathtaking.  I also was moved by the fact that almost all of his art was created by black artists--many famous and some unknown.  It left such an impression on me; I was a changed woman after visiting his home.  I knew I wanted my home to also feel like my own version of an artistic wonderland one day… although I can certainly not afford the works of the famous, established artists that filled his home!

What was the first piece of your collection?

I believe the very first piece I framed and hung was probably my 4th grade self-portrait which my mother retained for 20 years before I pulled it out of a box and decided to hang it in my first apartment.  It is a bold acrylic painting and still looks very good!

This painting was done by Atlanta-based artist, Dante Yarbrough.  Dante is a friend of my cousin and has an incredible catalog of work.  

This piece was part of a series. I don’t know its name but I call it “Hidden Figures” because what at first appears to be a random series of black and white lines and markings, is actually an intricate web of images and figures.  It also has rich, textural elements.  It’s like a Rorschach test in that everyone sees different things depending on their experiences and frame of reference.  I have hung it so that it is pretty much the first thing you see upon entering my home.  I would definitely like to buy more of Dante’s art in the future.

Your most recent acquisition?

My most recent acquisition is colorful abstract, two-sided canvas painted by a local Charlotte artist.  It is simply a piece of canvas that has not yet been mounted or framed.  I haven’t been able to commit to which side I want to display and how I want to mount it but I will figure it out soon. 

At what point did you feel like an art collector?

Although I don’t really refer to myself as an "art collector," I do know that I thoroughly enjoy art. I believe art is like the jewelry of the home.  It can do so much to adorn and elevate an otherwise basic home. 

I guess I realized how passionate I was about art when I purchased and moved into my first house two years ago.  All I wanted to focus on was the art... where I wanted to put what I already had, and sourcing more art for my walls.  I hung my art before making any other furniture or decorating decisions.  Everything in my home pivots around the art.

This beautiful piece is a limited edition print created by artist and friend, Annie Moran.  Annie comes from a long line of talented artists and musicians in and around New Orleans, and her art features the landscapes and people of Louisiana.  Annie is very humble; she and I were buddies back when we both lived in New York and sadly, I didn't see any of her work until we had been friends for years.  This piece features an African-American man dressed in Mardi Gras attire, with drink in hand and whistle in mouth.  Annie explains that even as he is oppressed, the black man is the “king” of New Orleans culture.  He has developed the music, food, and traditions that people have come to love from the city. However, he struggles to truly benefit from its popularity or economic resurgence.  The original painting was purchased by the city and hangs in one of New Orleans’ municipal buildings.  I was excited to purchase one of the limited edition prints. It hangs in my bedroom and is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning.  It serves as a nice connection to Louisiana--my family’s home of origin.

What do you look for when you purchase art?

When purchasing art, I look for pieces that speak to me personally or culturally.  I realize that I am definitely drawn to portraits.  I also love very large scale, dramatic pieces.  I tend to either gravitate towards very modern art or very “primitive” folk art.  I’m trying to nudge myself to embrace greater diversity in the style, subject and size of my art.  Also, although most of my pieces are originals, I don’t discriminate.  I also have some prints that I love… and even a couple of pieces from big box stores that I’ve stumbled upon. 

What advice do you have for other collectors?

Don’t skimp on the framing--particularly non-reflective glass.  There are one or two pieces that I wish I had framed a little better.

Dammit Wesley colorful portrait

I got this piece from local Charlotte artist Dammit Wesley.   I saw it in a décor shop and was immediately captivated.  It is striking piece, painted directly on a 50x30 piece of plywood.  I love its boldness and color.  The way each paint stroke helps to define her face is gorgeous.  When I look at this, I see a woman who is beautiful, strong, and bold.  I imagine that she has defiantly rejected society’s traditional notions beauty andfemininity and instead, crafted her own definition of what beauty, power, and confidence look like.  I have spent a little time with Wesley as he’s become an acquaintance of mine about town; however,  I never actually asked him about the background of this piece.  I’ve attended several of his hip hop sip & paint classes, which are always a blast.  Next time I’ll be sure to ask him about it!

What's something you don't imagine you'll ever have in your collection?

Hmm,  I can’t really think of anything I would say you’d NEVER find in my collection.  I think almost anything has the potential to be beautiful and interesting.  I wouldn’t feel comfortable ruling out an entire category of something.

What, if anything, do you think is "missing" from your collection?

There are probably a few things that are missing from my collection.  I’d like more smaller scale pieces given that I am running out of wall space!  I also think having a mix of sizes enables you to better assemble your various pieces of art into a narrative.  I’d also like to incorporate more three dimensional pieces within my collection--whether that be sculpture, artifacts or antique items.

A lot of the art and photographs in my home have deep personal, familial, and/or cultural significance to me.  This series is particularly meaningful because these are sketches of some of my family members’ homes in Louisiana that were drawn by my father.  My dad is a retired architect and was always passionate about creating--in his personal and professional life.  This series includes sketches of my grandparents’ house, great grandparents’ house, and great uncle’s house.  My father has always had a natural talent for creating.  Although I did not inherit his gift, he played a big role in me developing an appreciation for aesthetics, design and the arts.  Dad now has Parkinson’s which has affected his ability to create due to hand tremors.  This makes me cherish the sketches, watercolor, and wood sculpture he has created all the more.

What was the piece that got away?

The piece that got away was a gorgeous vintage oil painting of a vase of flowers that I found in the antique market.  It has been two years and I still think about it. I should have listened to my heart instead of listening to the opinion of a friend who told me that it looked like something from the set of Golden Girls.  LOL!

We all have budgets. What's something you de-prioritize so you have extra funds for art?

I probably spend less on kitchenware and bedding than most people do.  Much of my furniture is pretty moderately priced and I tend to keep my stuff for a long time vs changing out frequently.  I use that to justify investing in art here and there.

You just got a surprise gift of $1000 to put towards your art collection. How would you use it?

I’d keep my eye out for a few unique pieces that I might assemble into a gallery wall.

The title of this piece is Juxtaposition.  It is a
digital piece created by a young local Charlotte artist named Gustavo Soto

I wasn’t very familiar with the concept of digital art before encountering this piece.  I participated in an “art crawl” a couple of years ago and of all the pieces that were displayed, this is the one that really spoke to me.  I have a thing for portraits and I found this one to be captivating and beautiful.  I later learned that this piece is actually the only physical print of a digital/video story of sorts that was created by the artist.  I think it is a fitting image to represent the state of the world and country today--we feel consumed and burdened by the chaotic social, political, and economic state of the world.

Who is an artist whose work you love but will probably never own?

An artist whose work I love but can’t afford: I’d love a collage by Romare Bearden, who also happens to be from Charlotte.  If there are no bounds to this fantasy, I’d also love a piece by Matisse or Picasso.

Can you recommend a local artist who deserves some love?

I’d like to give love to all of the artists whose work I shared, particularly Annie Moran and Dante Yarbrough.

Follow Seana's collecting and life adventures on Instragram: @bellybaila

Collectors, want to share you wisdom and show off your favorite pieces? Shoot me a message via the Contact page, and I'll give you the details. I'm always looking for new and varied collectors to feature here!