Photos By Steve Hirsch Photography www.stevehirschphoto.com.
Meet Dana Cain. Her home has steadily transformed into one big art gallery with themed rooms designed to highlight her expanding collection. On average, she adds somewhere between two to four pieces to her collection every month. And, she’s made it her mission to inspire others to buy and collect art, regularly giving lectures on the importance of supporting professional artists.
Suffice it to say, Dana Cain is an avid art collector. We asked Dana about her passion for art and what artists can do to capture the attention—and the heart—of a collector like her.
L to R: Photo By Steve Hirsch Photography www.stevehirschphoto.com. "Interstellar Hello" by Mark Penner-Howell.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU BECOME AN ART COLLECTOR?
It was the summer of 2005 – ten years ago! I was in the Navajo Art District and fell in love with a Louis Recchia piece, a girl and a pet dinosaur. I collect dinosaurs, too. I remember how great it felt when I handed him the check and he handed me the painting. I knew I was hooked!
I’d actually been dubbed ‘The Queen of Collectibles” in the local media back in the 90’s when I owned Atomic Antiques and wrote a bunch of collectibles price guides. At the time, I collected EVERYTHING. I’d been a collector since my 9th birthday when my grandmother bought me a Breyer Horse and I decided to collect horses.
By the time I got involved in the local art scene, I was a huge collector – everything except art. I just never realized that you could COLLECT it for some reason, even though I grew up with it. My mom was an artist and I took art lessons on and off my whole life since I was in preschool. It was Ivar Zeile (Owner and Director at Plus Gallery) who was talking about “art collectors” one day and made the light bulb go on over my head.
L to R: "Comfort Food" by Riva Sweetrocket and "Notes on Starification" by Tracy Tomko.
HOW DO YOU PRIMARILY DISCOVER NEW ARTISTS? GALLERY OPENINGS? WORD OF MOUTH? ALL OF THE ABOVE?
Honestly, I discover many new artists online – either on Facebook, or from the weekly emails about local artists sent by Ken Hamel at www.denverarts.org. That’s how I usually figure out where I’m going to look at art. Of course, sometimes, I’ll happen into a gallery and just fall over when I see someone’s work. But, it’s mostly online these days.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT A PIECE OF ART THAT SPEAKS TO YOU AND MAKES YOU HAVE TO OWN IT?
For me, it’s all about a personal, emotional connection. I don’t care about things like how hard it was to do or how long it took or any of that. I only care about how it impacts me on a personal, emotional level. My heart skips a beat, or I gasp when I see it, or I have also been known to stare at a piece until I just cry. Some pieces just stop me in my tracks and make me think, “Oh – I know that feeling!” That’s when I have to have it…when it’s a part of me that I find hanging up on the wall, and I know I need to gather it up and keep it with me to remind me of that part of myself.
WHEN YOU MEET AN ARTIST IN PERSON AND ESTABLISH A RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM, ARE YOU MORE LIKELY TO PATRONIZE THAT ARTIST?
Well, I guess it helps if the person is on my radar. But, really some of my favorite artwork is by folks I’m not friends with—or maybe don’t even like. LOL. And some of the artists I love the most create work that just doesn’t connect with me. There are some of those times though when I totally adore the artist and their work. Those are the best! But I do buy work from folks I don’t know, or maybe am not that crazy about. And, sometimes I’m nuts about an artist’s personality, but not so much their work. So, I guess the two are sort of unrelated.
L to R: "Too Big to Fail" and "Ground Control" by Mark Penner-Howell.
IS THERE AN ARTIST THAT YOU CONTINUE TO COLLECT? IF SO, WHY?
When I first began buying art, I figured it would be like my other collections – get one piece by each local artist I liked and that would be it. I was actually baffled and confused when I realized I wanted multiple pieces by the same artists. Of course, now I know that I’ll never be through with some of them. Mark Penner-Howell and I have some sort of psychic link, I guess, because he just paints exactly what is in my head all the time. I just HAVE to keep buying his work. Nathan Abels is another one. His pieces are much quieter – but he does SO MUCH with so little – and just bores right through to the core of my heart with his work. There are others too, but those two guys are my main addictions now, and have been for a few years.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR PROFESSIONAL ARTISTS ON HOW TO CONNECT WITH AND CREATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH COLLECTORS?
Facebook! Build up your Art Page and post work in progress and newly finished works. BOOST THE POSTS, or no one will see them. That is the way to reach a huge audience with your work…all the time, any time. I have bought several pieces off of Facebook. You can create buzz and generate sales easily, in your spare time, in your pajamas, sitting at home. And you can connect with a GIGANTIC, GLOBAL AUDIENCE. When you have a show, promote the hell out of it on Facebook, too.
L to R: Photo By Steve Hirsch Photography www.stevehirschphoto.com. "Hot Springs" by Susan Meyer.
Looking for more insight into a collector's mind? Check out What Motivates Art Collectors (And How to Use It to Your Advantage).