What’s on your wall?

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Breg Stones, "Sock Monkeys Hate Kittens"

Breg Stones, “Sock Monkeys Hate Kittens”

By Kim Nelson
For Life in Our Foothills
January 2015

Things that just make us smile and make us “happy.” This is what Linda Tinkler summarizes about her and her husband Chris’ art collection. Isn’t that what it is really all about after all? And art can do that for people! I’m here to tell you – it really can!

These are two of the happiest people I know! Diving in and learning a bit more about this couple’s art history, I learned that although Chris and Linda both appreciated art, and each had a couple of pieces before they met, it wasn’t until they married that their collecting really began to take off.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

After the Tinklers were married, they had the pleasure of renting a 200 year old grist mill that was “full of great art” Linda says, “being surrounded by their (the owner’s) collection, is what inspired us to start picking up some pieces of our own that we really liked.”

The Tinklers began purchasing a few pieces of art when they were still in the historic mill they were renting. However, the collecting really started picking up steam when they  moved into the home they are in now, shortly after their son Jack was born.

After Jack turned one, Linda went back to work and in her travels she would pick up a piece here and there. She would frequent favorite art galleries or horse shows where artists would set up shop. Sometimes she would even pick up what she calls “sad or orphaned pieces of art,” which she explained to me were “typically paintings at garage sales that were quite good and just needed a home.” That has to be about the sweetest thing I think I’ve ever heard of. And trust me, this art is not sad; Linda has quite the eye for collecting!

Also, being that Linda’s mother is from Cape Cod she, with Chris and Jack, visits every year. And with what seems to have developed into a tradition over the years, they’ve picked up at least one, or maybe even two new pieces of art from the area annually.

With all the artwork in their home, I could see a plethora of media represented including oils, pottery, photography, graphite, metal, stone, fiber and wood. But I wondered if in all of their works collected, was there a specific honing in — a collection within their collection?

“Yes,” Linda replied. “We were drawn to a lot of black and white art, so in our bedroom we’ve ended up with etchings, drawings, photography and pen and ink pieces.”

Upon viewing the works in the room, I was particularly drawn to student works, photography, and a wonderful illustrator’s work featuring a bit of mayhem with a Sock Monkey and a couple of mischievous kittens. Whimsically delightful! I doubt there is any other bedroom as simply color coordinated with so much creativity.

I wondered, with all of the work they have acquired, was there any particularly unusual artists encountered?

“Yes” Linda replied. “Our ‘Willie Art.’ The first time I met Willie he was on the streets of Boone and he was full of paint. He had it in his hair, under his fingernails, and on his clothes. On the street he was asking $5 or so for each of his paintings. I loved them, so I came home with three, of course paying him more than he asked. Apparently, as we later learned, he was a schizophrenic. Eventually a gallery in Boone that wanted to help this ‘Outsider Artist’ sell his work started representing him and Chris and I bought a few more of Willly’s pieces at much higher prices!” Very interesting.

When discussing how they decide to hang all of their artwork they each had something to share.

“In the kitchen I’ve got three pieces that look like they came off the same pallet. Three different artists, three different pieces, all bought over the course of 12 years. But whatever it was that they each had, it all resonated with us three times in a row. And they all feel good together; they all look happy together. The artwork we buy seems to know where it belongs.”

To further illustrate that point, Chris had a story about a whaling painting on a breadboard they bought in Cape Cod, and then later found a folk art whale painted and cut out of wood that was purchased locally. When they saw a connection with the two and hung the cut out next to the painting they realized it looked like “the cut out whale had escaped from the whaling painting!” It seems as though that whale had a great desire to evade the whalers and live!

Linda adds it is fun to place certain pieces next to each other to have them “play off of each other and see what they do.”

I asked Chris and Linda which artists they gravitate toward.

“We try to find a piece that we like from artists that we admire in the area.” As it turns out they pick up work from Upstairs fundraisers frequently, and even find great pieces at estate sales, auctions, and antique stores. But lucky them, they are often gifted original artwork by friends who are artists, or friends purchasing art they know the Tinklers will love!

Artists that they have collected locally are: Rick Conn, Keith Spencer, Richard Christian Nelson, Dale McIntyre, Carol Pittman, Arden Cone, Elaine Pearsons, Bob Neely, Dom and Pat Ferullo, Carol Beth-Icard, Ann Gleason, Lee Hollroyd, Ann Stockdale, Harry Strider, David Cornell, Kathleen Carson, Bill Crowell, and Lucinda Pittman, just to name a few!

Some not so local artists include: Steven Lang, Jim Hooks, Greg Stones, Ty Anderle, Ron Ogle, and Terrence Powell. This art friendly couple has even opened up their home to young students of my husband, Richard Christian Nelson. Twice they have housed young talent in their home over summers when they intern with Rich; Cody Erickson and Greg Carr. Both of them were College For Creative Studies students, Rich’s alma mater. Each of these young men have shown their gratitude and left behind a couple of paintings for the Tinklers in appreciation for their hospitality.

During our art tour and when pausing at the couple’s painting of Rich’s that they own, Linda shares how much she adores it. We both reflect on the composition, and especially the colors and Linda notes that, “it is one of her  ‘favs.’” Mine too! Of course I may be a bit bias…

Then I hit this happy arty couple with my harsh question of ‘If you can only choose one piece from your collection to save from harm, what would it be?’

They both agreed that a wonderful portrait of their son, Jack, that was gifted to them by the artist would have to be their answer. When I asked more about this portrait Linda shared that “Margaret Curtis had never done portraits before and she was interested in them. She contacted us with an image she had in her mind for Jack; she had him pose in front of our peace sign in his Greenday band t-shirt. I loved this because of the juxtaposition; the peace symbols and the little army guys.”

I then learned that Margaret used a very unusual technique for the foliage. She painted a camouflage pattern underlay and then “scraped away” from a top application of paint to reveal those tones. Very interesting! It is a wonderful portrait of a very special young man.

As I think about how this couple got this art bug, it hits me that happiness is at the root of it all. I’ve talked about collecting before and how artwork ‘connects’ with people, but happiness has never really come into play before. The Webster definition for happy is ‘feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.’ Who doesn’t want that? And the fact that artwork is doing that for this couple (aside from the obvious facets of one’s life that might typically give one happiness – love, faith, success) is just amazing.

What a recipe! Add a dash of paint, a pound or two of clay, a few iron pieces welded together, maybe a bottle cap or two, and voila! Happiness! Make extra for me, and let’s hope there are some leftovers for others to dive into as well. Isn’t art just the best?