Interview with Art Collector Randel Shadid

DANIEL MAIDMAN: What type or types of art do you like to collect, and who are a few artists you're particularly proud to have in your collection?

RANDEL SHADID: I collect all types of art (oil, watercolor and pastel), landscape, seascape, figurative, wildlife, still life, abstract, sculpture, and pueblo pottery). I am proud to have all the artists I own in my collection. Who an artist is in the pecking order of fame is relevant but I never buy a piece I do not love and want to live with till the end of my time on earth. But you asked for a few names so here goes. Kenny McKenna, Dick and Susan Evans, Kyle Polzin, Dan Gerhartz, Dan Sprick, Mian Situ, David Leffel, Poteet Victory, David Pearson, Albert Handel, Andre Kohn, George Hallmark, Jim Vogel, Bruce Cody, Pamela Wilson, Sara Bienvenue, Laura Robb, Markey Robinson, Keli Folsom, Katherine Stone, Quang Ho, Greg Reiche, Tony Hochstetler and Kevin Box. I could go on as I not only love the artist’s work but know many of them personally as friends.

DM: Can you tell me a bit about how your involvement with art began? Was it an encounter with art in childhood, or through family or school?

RS: My involvement in art came later in life. I always had an appreciation for beauty but had never acquired original art until I was in my late 40’s (I am 69 going on 39). My wife Dana convinced me to spend a long weekend in Santa Fe. I was not excited as I was not interested in purely “cowboy and Indian” subject matter. Dumb statement. Discovered all kinds and styles of art. Wound up spending $15,000 on paintings for a historic building I was rehabbing for a law office. The rest as they say is history as my obsessive personality took over. Dana and I have acquired several hundred works of art since then. I subscribed to several art publications, visited with gallery owners whose works appealed to me and visited more museums to enhance what little I knew about art in order to gain a better appreciation.

DM: Describe a little bit the role that art plays in your life. I say "a little bit" because I suspect that for any real art lover, the answer can never be completed. So just a few thoughts on how art influences who you are and the life you live.

RS: Art has a great influence in and on my life. Art is the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night. Each piece has a story and each piece in its own way makes me feel happy and more alive. Over the years as we have been blessed to travel we look for art that is affordable but representative of the areas we visit. The artwork always reminds us of a great day. We also try to support artists, particularly young ones trying to support themselves through their talent. I learned a long time ago that I did not get the gift my artist friends have. But if they are going to succeed someone has to acquire their wonderful works. Guess I was lucky to get that gift. I tell my friends I will never be able to retire because all my retirement is hanging on the walls or sitting on a pedestal. As long as I have my eyesight I will be a happy boy. 

With others, I also helped start a public art program in Edmond, OK. We have around 190 works in the public collection. I am a former Mayor and Council member. When I retired from political life, establishing a public program became my mission. The success of the program through the support of our city council and citizens has raised both the aesthetic and the civility of our community. Selfishly I get to enjoy all those public pieces as I walk around our community. I also take great satisfaction in watching mothers and grandmothers with children and tourists reacting with public art and having a Kodak moment. Makes me proud of our citizens and happy we supported so many different artists.

DM: This is a fascinating range of answers, and it captures for me a lot of the complexity of having a relationship with art: you describe it in terms of an aesthetic appreciation of beauty, and as a series of sign-posts marking the road of your own personal history, and as a means of civic betterment. Are there any other major virtues you see in art? And could you choose a piece in your collection that has both extraordinary aesthetic and personal importance for you, and share its "case history"? I think our readers can be trusted to take it that you might have chosen any number of works, and that this one stands, for the sake of brevity, for all.

RS: Other virtues I see in art: I was recently visiting with Steve and Elizabeth Harris of Insight Gallery and Steve reminded me of something I told him a few years ago. We were discussing why we collect art and I said “After a long difficult day at work I can sit in any room of my home look at wonderful art and it relaxes me. It takes me away either to the place depicted in the painting or a special moment when we purchased the piece and got to know the artist or the gallery staff. Always evokes pleasant thoughts or memories. Blood pressure drops 20 points.

A single piece of art: It is tough to pick a single piece that has extraordinary aesthetic and personal importance because they all do. The one I will discuss is an abstract landscape (at least that is what I think it is) by Dick Evans of Santa Fe. I purchased the painting nearly 20 years ago before I knew Dick. His gallery rep Joyce Robins offered to take Dana and me and 3 other Edmond, OK couples to Dick and Susan Evans’s home and studio. We expected to be there 30 minutes, have a glass of wine and leave. Two or three hours later we were in Dick’s studio participating in a buying frenzy. Next thing we knew Dick was cooking us dinner. I am drawn to landscapes but at that time was not a fan of abstract work. But this painting grabbed me. The palate and form were beautiful and took my mind to another place. We subsequently became great friends with Dick and Susan. Several years ago they were at our home. We were sipping wine and Dick leaned over and said, “Randel, I am going to make you an offer you can’t refuse. If you will let me have that painting back you can come to the studio and pick any painting any size in its place”. I smiled, leaned over and said, “Dick, I love you, but you are not getting that painting back.” We are still friends. The painting is a joy to view but the story is an affirmation of beauty on a panel or canvas and beginning of a meaningful relationship that resulted in a lifelong friendship. I have placed several of Dick’s paintings and Susan’s sculptures in our public art collection in Edmond, OK. I see the art every day and it always reminds me of a great time with my friends sharing a meal, talking about art and embellishing tales.

 
Daniel Maidman

Daniel Maidman

Daniel Maidman is best known for his vivid depiction of the figure. Maidman’s drawings and paintings are included in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and the Long Beach Museum of Art. His art and writing on art have been featured in PoetsArtistsARTnewsForbesWJuxtapozHyperallergicAmerican Art Collector, and Manifest. He writes art criticism for The Huffington Post, art instruction for International Artist, and is a repeat guest critic at the New York Academy of Art. His first book of drawings, Daniel Maidman: Nudes, is available from Griffith Moon Publishing. He is represented by Jenn Singer Gallery in New York. He lives and paints in Brooklyn, New York.