Sunday, April 06, 2008

What Do You Collect?

I found an interesting article about collecting. People collect for all kinds of reasons and at all kinds of depths. Some people become experts in the fields of their collections to such an extent that they can offer consulting services to museums or donate their valuable collections to a museum. But just about all of us collect something(s).

I'm not a serious collector but sometimes after I've bought a few similar things then I realize that I've started a collection. The black and white spotted dogs that you see above have become a collection. I must have about 20 of them now. Years ago in Oaxaca I bought one spotted dog and then I saw another.....along with lots of other painted Oaxacan animals that I'd like to have bought so I decided that I would limit myself to only buying the carved wooden painted black and white spotted dogs from Oaxaca. Now anytime I see a store filled with the wondrous Oaxacan wooden animals, I can look at everyone one of them in my search for a black and white dog. The dogs are few and far between but my search is fun and when I do find one, I feel that I have really, really found a treasure.

I also collect photography. Now this passion could get pretty expensive but I've added to my collection through trades with other photographers, local photography auctions, some gallery purchases as well as directly purchasing from the photographer. The problem is that I'd like to have them all on my walls but the collection has reached the point where that just isn't possible, especially here in Mexico. Still when I open one of the boxes that hold the photographs, my heart just sings to see the images and to remember the circumstances around the acquisition. And an extension of collecting photography is collecting photography books. Everywhere we travel it seems I find another photography book rather than a souvenir. And of course my photography book list never grows shorter no matter how many I buy.

Over the years we collected Uriarte pottery and Gorky Gonzales pottery....collecting one or two pieces at a time was so much more fun than buying a set of dishes all at once. Every time we came to Mexico, we would go looking for another piece. It was the thrill of the hunt and getting one more plate that brought the satisfaction.

There are several other things that we have collected in this manner and I guess that although I deny that I'm a folk art collector, I think my house (as well as the storage facility in Houston) would tell you differently. But I'm not a collector in the sense that my friend Joe is a collector. His house is amazing with folk art from around the world on every surface and on every wall but when he buys something new, there is always a place for one more thing. My friend Barbara whose house is full of joyful color, collects Mexican folk art and every time she moves things around in her house, I think she has bought a new piece.

Rick and Deb Hall who own Zocalo Folk Art stores in San Miguel de Allende and Patzcuaro fall into the category of expert collectors. They have been collecting folk art for years....since Rick was a boy. Their knowledge is extensive and they are always on the search for a mask maker they heard about in a village or the paper mache artist whose work they saw somewhere. Deb writes the Zocalo de Mexican Folk Art blog that gives you the flavor of their travels into the folk art world of Mexico.

What about you? What do you collect?


Babs said...

Thanks for the mention Billie, you made me giggle!
You better watch out though about the photography collection. When I last saw Ruth Lechuga who was the driving force behind the formation ofPhotographers Society of Mexico, her collection was 14,000 images all of the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Luckily it is now at the Franz Mayer Museum.......for ALL to enjoy!

petebar said...

¡Hola Billie!

Collecting---that sure opens up a can of worms. Not that I collect worms. I've collected several different things over the years. Varying levels of interest, finances, and storage/display space issues have controlled my collecting activities.

I collected coins in my younger days just like most kids in America. I wish I still had all those silver coins I sold off in the silver market craze of 1980 for 21X face value (thanks Hunt brothers!).

Family travels from the Chicago area to the National Parks of the west in the 50s & 60s led to other areas of interest. I collect tacky souvenir snow domes from my adult travels. Many friends caught this bug from me and have brought me domes from around the world. I've run out of display space.

I have collected old postcards, brochures and ephemera promoting travel to the west in the early 1900s, mostly Santa Fe railroad. I love the quality of the old graphics. Most of this has wound up in boxes.

My parents retired to Arizona for 24 years. This led to an interest in Navajo rugs and Hopi pottery. I haven't been to the southwest in almost 6 years now, but my rugs and pots on display bring back good memories.

I have a nice small collection of old cameras. Just the cheap, readily available ones. With the recent sad news about Polaroid, I'm glad I have an original Model 95 and an SX-70.

I am overloaded with books, with too many of them just in boxes. Photography books are the main classification, mostly about the west. Love the old guys--Watkins, Vroman, Curtis, O'Sullivan, Jackson, Hillers, Wittick, and of course Ansel. Panoramics and "then & now" re-photographic projects are big interests. And architecture, too. With limited space and finances, I've had to cut down on purchases. But last weekend a local used bookstore had a 50%-off sale. I couldn't resist.

Now, with my recent travels to San Miguel, items from Mexico are starting to take their places on my walls. Several masks and Oaxacan rugs are now on display, and a very cool tin & ceramic mirror. I haven't found a spot yet for the plate with a butterfly design. I'm sure I'll be adding more with my next trip south.

And that's just the major stuff. Others include my old rock concert ticket stubs, floaty pens, Film Noir on DVD, little plastic & ceramic televisions, and what am I going to do with my 600+ vinyl records? It's always something, isn't it?