I have had the pleasure of knowing Ruth Ann Mekitarian since 2001 when she purchased a piece of art from my studio during a First Friday event. Since then I have been honored to have had her support as a patron and collector of my art as well.
Ruth Ann recently gave me a tour of her home, where she has many pieces of art displayed in every room. Giving me a first-hand look into the mind of an art collector, she allowed me to interview her and photograph a few of her pieces. I was very happy to have been given this opportunity.
STM: Welcome Ruth Ann! Thank you for being the first of our Studio Tour Magazine’s Behind the Collectors interviews. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.
RM: Thank you for this opportunity to speak about collecting art.
STM: Art can be so many things to each individual. What is the meaning of art to you?
RM: For me art is joy. I derive so much pleasure looking at art and being able to buy a few pieces from time to time.
STM: Why should anyone collect art?
RM: Art is an expression of your Self. I am not able to produce art, but I am able to find art that speaks to me.
Joseph Bottari. Dividing Truth
STM: What ignited your passion and appreciation of art? When did it begin?
RM: The most important factor for igniting my appreciation of art can be traced back to the home I was brought up in. My parents had a house full of paintings. Art in some form or another was always on the walls in the living areas.
STM: It is said that there are subtle differences between being an art buyer and an art collector. Do you think this is true? Were you an art buyer before becoming an art collector, or were you always a collector?
RM: I think I started out as an art buyer first. When I first started living on my own in Atlanta, Georgia I bought a few pieces to cover the walls. Collecting art came later for me.
STM: When did you actually begin collecting art?
RM: I did not start collecting art seriously until about 20 years ago. Up until then I would say I was an art buyer with an appreciation for the unusual.
STM: What kind of art do you like to collect?
RM: I collect mostly local and what I call contemporary art. Local for me means where I am physically located at the time. So having traveled to Montreal and Rio de Janeiro and having lived in Atlanta, Birmingham and Paris I have pieces from all those places. However most of my collection has been acquired while living in New Jersey and are from New Jersey artists.
Frankie Mack of TASK A Team, Trenton. Houses
STM: Do you only collect certain artists or types of art? Must the artist be well known or have a reputation for you to collect their work?
RM: No I am very eclectic in what I buy and the artists might be known in the local circles but I by no means really consider the artist’s reputation. However the art does have to speak to me.
STM: Do you collect multiple works from some of the same artists or usually stick to one or two of their works?
RM: Up until 20 years ago I collected here and there, but over the last two decades I have acquired multiple works from a few artists.
Ed M. Adams. Time to Talk
STM: What kind of “eye” must an art collector have to choose quality work?
RM: This is a very personal question in that my “eye” will not be the same as the next person’s eye. So, I do not think their needs to be an eye, however I strongly believe that the art needs to speak to you in some way either through color or lines or texture.
STM: Did it take you a long time to cultivate that “eye” for good art?
RM: I am laughing because that assumes I have the “eye” for good art. I believe my “eye” started a long time ago in my parent’s home and the art we had displayed on the walls. I liked some of the pieces and disliked some of them. When you are surrounded by art your eye develops.
Thom Reaves. Windsurfers
STM: Touching on the emotional side of art collecting, what is the excitement about purchasing a piece of art? Can you describe the feeling that you get?
RM: Purchasing a piece of art is not a cold investment for me, I am buying a story or a longing or colors I like or just plain beauty in my eyes.
STM: Tell me about one of your favorite pieces of art in your collection, the circumstances surrounding your acquiring it and how it makes you feel?
RM: I was on a business trip over thirty years ago in Rio de Janeiro. I bought two items in a park in Rio from local artists, one a 21 inch carving, very thin wood of a naked woman and the other a small canvas of a favela on a hill. These are the slums in Rio going up hills with colorful walls or cardboard walls. The carving is delicate and the painting is colorful, both items speaking to me.
STM: First thing that comes to your mind – Your top 3 artists?
RM: There are so many I love. Painters who are very skilled with pen and ink Honore Daumier comes to mind. I also like very much Manet and Seurat.
Florence Moonan. Something Known
STM: Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can give to someone who’s just starting out collecting art?
RM: Collect what appeals to you, collect what speaks to you. It can be as simple as loving the colors or the lines. Start out at high school or college art shows where the art usually does not cost as much as in private shows or museum shows.
STM: Is there any piece on your radar that you’d like to tell us about?
RM: Not at the moment, my walls are rather full right now!
STM: Thank you so much, Ruth Ann, for inviting us into your home and into your very personal and treasured collection.
RM: Thank you very much for allowing me to be a part of this Studio Tour Magazine’s Behind the Collectors interview.
Ed M. Adams. Small Town Dreams
"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life".