Thursday, April 12, 2012
Jo and Jimmy Salmon’s art collection
What does an award-winning photographer hang on the walls of his own home? “Art!” Jo Salmon says. “Jimmy and I have always had an interest in art.”
LONGVIEW Whether looking at paintings, sculpture, photography or art objects, visitors to the home of Jimmy and Jo Salmon immediately recognize their fascination with art. Their living room is dominated by an intricate Ron Rencher still life. This is one of the first pieces they purchased for their collection, and they still enjoy owning it. They bought another Rencher painting, Casablanca Lilies, before Christmas one year, and still another, a seascape, during a trip to California. A small painting hanging to the right of the Rencher is by Salado jewelry designer, Jim Benton. The Salmons were visiting the Salado Christmas Stroll, and when they saw it they said, “Aha! This is ours!”
Another still life was purchased at an art walk in Little Rock. Although the artist is not well known, they knew the painting would fit into a perfect spot above a table. They admit that the far wall of the room had been empty for many years. They were vacationing in Rockport when they visited Shirley Blackman’s Art Gallery and found several of her detailed still life paintings. “We just ran around the gallery,” Jo explained. “We gathered these up and said, “We’ll take all of these!”
The Salmons bought three little animal- shaped bowls at a Presbyterian Mission Market. They later saw similar bowls featured in a home interior design magazine used by a famous designer in some ultra upscale California home.
“That didn’t make me enjoy my bowls more. It just made me feel a bit vindicated, as though I was suddenly ahead of the curve,” Jo laughed. “It really doesn’t matter to us, because we never bought artwork as an investment. Everything we own was bought because we liked it. I have an acquaintance who has lots of art and keeps things stored and doesn’t enjoy it. Investing in art is not unreasonable, but I assume everybody loves what they own. It’s fun to find out that a work is very valuable, but that’s not why we have art. We have it because we love it and care about it. Our art is on our walls where we can enjoy it every day. There is no other reason to have it.”
Jo admits the first piece of art she ever owned is a print she bought shortly after she graduated from college. She had her first job and her first office. It was not an important print, but she knew she wanted some form of art in her new workspace.
Jimmy also had an interest in art and bought several things back when AlleyFest was the Alley Art Show sponsored by the Longview Art Museum. The Salmons still own several pieces from that era.
Photographs of food are well-suited to the home’s formal dining room. One of Jimmy’s photographs is titled Muted Pears and another is titled Artichoke and Asparagus. To complete the room, two still-life paintings on copper share a wall with paintings brought home from Florence, Italy.
“We were visiting art galleries in Italy when an engineer friend of Jimmy’s told us his mother had an art gallery, and we should go see her. We were hesitant, but when we went, we discovered that his mother was from a very old family in Venice, and they were all artists,” Jo said.
The kitchen walls are tile which doesn’t allow much room for art, but the one wall that can hold a painting boasts a charming Andre Kohn painting of chefs at work.
Andre Kohn is one of their favorite painters and has an interesting story. He is Russian and now living in California. His father was a diplomat stationed in the United States when he was young and in art school in Russia. Kohn visited his parents for a holiday. When he arrived, his parents took him carefully aside and said, “Son, we’re defecting.” So, he never went back.
A long, narrow hallway has become an art gallery where hand painted note cards purchased in Rockport are exhibited in a series of identical frames. Narrow hanging shelves provide display space for Jimmy’s photographs. At the moment, there are photographs printed on handmade Japanese rice paper, but the photographs are changed as often as the work changes.
A gold and acrylic photographic collage by Joli Livaudais was purchased in Monroe, La. The Salmon’s met the Livaudais when Jimmy’s photographs were exhibited at the Masur Museum in Monroe. They learned that Monroe has a downtown arts district with a unique attraction. When art is purchased in the Monroe Art District, there is no city sales tax. This is how the city promotes the district, and it encourages people to buy art by making it less expensive for both the artists and the prospective buyers.
One cheerful bedroom is called their Appalachian Heritage room because it features art in the company of family heirlooms, handwork and memories. An early 1900s quilt made by Jo’s aunt covers her parents’ oak bed. Jo’s mother embroidered the vintage pillow coverings when she was a little girl at a time when small girls learned to do handwork. A wall grouping includes several paintings, one of which hung at her grandmother’s house, and a dainty fabric doll her mother made. An antique floral painting from an estate in Elysian Fields was purchased at the Weisman Center in Marshall.
Even the bathroom walls are filled with paintings; Jimmy acquired several of these during the Alley Arts exhibits. Others are special artworks created by prison inmates. These were found during a trip to the Huntsville Rodeo.
Beauty, an abstract painting by Ferdinando Ambrosino, is hung against the colorful walls of the master bedroom. The artist’s work is seen in Rome and at the Vatican. The Salmons brought it home from a visit to San Francisco. Other features of the room include several paintings collected during a trip to New York, a print of “Words from Love” that came from Salado, and a wire sculpture of a golfer to honor one of Jimmy’s interests.
The Salmons insist that they spend most of their time in the smallest room in the house. The book-lined study has an ornate metal wall piece hung behind a tall Santa Fe sculpture in the company of several ceramic pieces. Two screen prints by Gail Perazzini, a Tucson artist who exhibits at the Cottonwood Festival every year, hangs above an ostrich sculpture found in the Marketplace in San Antonio. The line of the sculpture echoes the design elements of the Perazzini prints.
Several paintings of Italian influence are memories of another vacation trip. “Many of the artworks in our home were purchased during vacation trips,” Jimmy said. “While other people buy T-shirts as vacation souvenirs, we go to art galleries, and we bring home art.”
Their newest acquisition was purchased closer to home. It is a Stacy Deslatte stone sculpture of a figure reclining under covers. It is the first piece of her Prayer series, and it is a self-sculpture. When the artist was small, her family taught the children to pray at night. Since she was afraid of the dark, she would pull her covers up over her head and say her prayers. The sculpture tells how her prayers comforted her fears.
The Salmons simply collect what they love to look at, and that makes their home a place for them to enjoy every single day.