To Learn About Art, Party With the Artists

This weekend, Chad Loweth, a real-estate investor who had previously worked in the finance and hedge-fund industries, hosted what he called an art salon on the farm field at his Water Mill home. Mr. Loweth said he was at Art Basel in Miami Beach last year with several couples. "If you go to those events, there's so much in one place, it can be pretty mind-numbing," he said. Among several of his friends, who he described as "well-off but workaholic type people," the subject of understanding contemporary art and navigating the art market came up.

As an art patron with eclectic tastes, Mr. Loweth said he keeps up with what's going on at art shows and at auction houses. "Your taste changes the more educated you become," he said. Typically he tells friends, "Don't rush out and buy a lot. Do it slowly.""People would say, 'I saw so many beautiful things, but can you help me understand why something's $12 million, $2 million, $550,000 or $50,000?'" recalled Mr. Loweth. "The more people I talk to, the more I get the same response. Spending money on art scares them."

Mr. Loweth said he also tries to convince friends to buy what they like, "something that will make you happy when you see it every day." And it helps to get to know the artist whose work you might be interested in. "That way, when someone comes to your house and asks you to tell them about the work, you can," Mr. Loweth said. So over the weekend, he invited three artists whose work he collects and who he knows personally—Domingo Zapata, Richard Dupont and Henry Richardson—to bring some of their art and mingle with invited guests under a tent.

"I'd never heard of anything like this," said Mr. Richardson. "It wasn't a gallery show and it wasn't an art show. It wasn't really with an intent to sell, but just to get people to see the work and do it in a way that was actually fun. It was really a blowout party." Mr. Richardson, however, brought along four large-scale sculptures, including a 4½-foot orb and a 7-foot twisted column, and wound up selling three out of four of them.

Mr. Loweth invited several art-world professionals to help make the evening educational, including Scott Howe, the deputy director of the Parrish Art Museum. He wanted to make sure his guests understood that they should be going to museums to see what work is there. "For free you can go over and see a long-term vision of this Switzerland, as Scott from the Parrish called it," Mr. Loweth said. "They're not a gallery, they're not trying to sell you anything. But they do have a tremendous expertise." Mr. Howe said his friends don't typically use museum visits to do that kind of thing.

He added that he didn't participate in the sale of any of the work at his house, but being a collector of the work of Messrs. Dupont, Zapata and Richardson, "I economically benefit on my art." The evening wasn't just expensive for him on the hosting side, but he also wound up buying a piece of each of the artist's work. "I don't know if my wife will let me do it again," he joked.

"To me, it wasn't the typical kind of Hamptons party where a billionaire shows off his extensive art collection with a performance by a famous singer for supermodels and his executive friends," said Mr. Loweth. "I'm not a billionaire and Billy Joel didn't come to sing. That's not what I was trying to achieve. This is about my friends coming and learning something, having fun and meeting an eclectic group of interesting people." Wall Street Journal.

Orb by Easthampton Artist Reflects Theme of Universality

"Part of the purpose of the piece is to provide a way in which anyone who looks at it can have an experience that is personal to them."

There is an ancient Kabbalistic myth that imagines at the time of creation a giant earthen vessel containing the light of goodness. The vessel slips from God's hands and tumbles toward the Earth, where it breaks into innumerable pieces. Those that have come to inhabit the Earth are charged with piecing the metaphorical vessel back together, one good deed at a time. In Hebrew, the phrase used is Tikkun Olam, which often translates "to repair the world," usually through acts of charity.

For Henry Richardson, an area glass artist with a studio at One Cottage Street, this story and the beauty of the word Tikkun captures the spirit of his newest project, the largest of his career. Since late summer, he has been literally piecing together a six-foot-tall orb out of cut and chipped blue-tinted plate glass. Even though the sculpture is hollow, he estimates it will weigh nearly 5,000 pounds when completed, involving 142 layers of epoxied half-inch glass.

"I was trying to find a simple term, a way to describe the positive universality of humanity," said Richardson, who got the idea for the name from a friend in New York. Not only did Tikkun capture the scope Richardson wanted his piece to address, but the many meanings of the word allowed the work to remain open to communication. Tikkun can also mean to heal and to help. "Part of the purpose of the piece is to provide a way in which anyone who looks at it can have an experience that is personal to them," he said.

Next week, Richardson will get a chance to find out what the rest of the sculpture world thinks about his piece, as he travels to Chicago in a rented truck with his partner, Lynda Hagaerstrom, and the fragile payload. Richardson has been granted a much-coveted place in the central hall of the Sculpture Objects Functional Arts Exposition later this week. The event is an annual showcase for the premier three-dimensional art galleries in the world, said Richardson. "It's a huge honor. This is very prestigious," he said. The placement is so prestigious, in fact, that several wealthy collectors and corporations expressed interest in purchasing the $100,000 piece before it was even completed. That selling price, if realized, will make the piece both a financial and artistic accomplishment, well worth the long nights, the nerve-wracking drive and even the removal of a door frame from One Cottage Street to get the globe out.

Richardson, a Northampton resident, has also been invited to speak to a Chicago Art Institute class about the technical difficulties of designing and executing such a large piece. Richardson used a computer model to figure the dimensions of the hundreds of individual glass arcs."You never know what will happen. If your math was bad, you'll come up with a banana," he said. At some point, he said he hopes that Tikkun finds a home in a public place, where people can interact with it on a daily basis, consider its size and symmetry and their own roles in the world.

By Michael Scherer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.