Big whoop, you say?
Ah, actually it is. While both Farb and Marks have been longtime patrons of the arts and both are recognized as savvy collectors (Marks was even named one of the Top 200 Collectors in the World by ARTnews magazine), neither has ever been involved in a gallery setting to this extent.
"It's exciting news for the gallery," Colton tells Hair Balls, "but it's exciting news for the city, too. Lester and Carolyn have mentored so many artists in Houston. I've always thought that ... my greatest weakness has been not knowing enough of the artists in the Houston community. I've very connected with the national and international art communities but Lester and Carolyn know the local community much better than I do."
Together, Colton says, they'll cover artists on every level, emerging to masters, local to international.
As a partner, Farb will bring artists into the gallery, curate shows, and encourage patrons and museums to include Colton Gallery works in their collections. (She'll also continue to raise funds for and serve as a board member for various other arts and charitable organizations.)
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"In a lot of ways she's been doing this type of work for years -- mentoring young artists, introducing patrons to new artists, and helping to get art into collections," says Colton. "Now, as a partner, she'll just be doing it in a more official way."
Marks has also done his share of fundraising and served on every major visual-arts organization's board of directors in Houston over the years, including Lawndale Art Center, DiverseWorks, and the Art League of Houston. Via press materials, Marks said, "After twenty years of serious collecting, it was time to take the next step and join the Deborah Colton Gallery," noting that he and Colton share "a fondness for both the high-end blue-chip work along with a fervor for the young artists."
Colton knows that some people in the arts community will be skeptical about Farb and Marks at first. "They might say, 'How can you put a collector in a director position?', but these are two people who have been working with galleries for years, just on the other side. This is going to be a bit of a reverse for them now. They'll be thinking, 'What have I really respected in galleries, what have I not?' With Lester being a director, he'll be in the gallery everyday. And he's already making a lot of positive changes based on what things he thought were extraordinary in other galleries, and what he thought was unacceptable."
Even the most ardent skeptics can't dampen Colton's excitement about the new additions to the gallery. "I'm just delighted. We have an [exhibit installation] going on today and I didn't feel like I had to be there because I had a pro like Lester there. He's curated his own exceptional collection and I know that he's going to do a good job making sure that conceptually and aesthetically that gallery looks great. For once in my life, I can just show up and be awed and surprised like everyone else," she laughs.