When I first moved back to Kentucky in 1994 and took a job with the state as a craft marketing specialist, I was faced with a certain dilemma. My job was to help craftspeople market their work in regional, national and international markets. I came to meet so many fantastic artists and was exposed to some of the most beautiful artwork in the world, and I wanted to buy all of it.
I quickly learned that would not be possible. Even though I was gainfully employed, our two boys qualified for free and reduced lunches at their school. Things got better financially once my wife found employment, but the desire to buy art I could not afford didn’t leave.
I decided since there were so many beautiful things to choose from, the only way I could curb my desire was to choose one particular thing that I was most attracted to and limit myself to collecting one piece at a time. I decided on Kentucky folk art roosters. My first purchase was a rooster by Ronald Cooper, and I paid $40 dollars for it. As my colleagues and I went out recruiting craftspeople at local fairs and festivals I met many artists who created roosters, and I would buy one piece at a time. I also started buying at Kentucky Crafted: The Market. As years went on, I could afford larger pieces and have built quite a collection. At last count I think I have 25 roosters. I really have no idea of their value but they are precious to me. On one hand, I think they may have appreciated quite a bit. On the other, they might not be worth that much, because our boys did quite a bit of roughhousing growing up and more than one rooster fell flat on his face.
As an art collector, I can proudly boast having the world’s largest collection of Kentucky folk art roosters…with broken beaks.
Most art collectors actually start before they have the means to do so. They collect because they love the work, not because they think it will be a good investment. Are there art collectors out there who would like to share their experiences with the readers of Creative Commonwealth? Are you ready to take the first step to start the collection you desire?
Ed Lawrence, communication director