An Affair to Remember: Masterpiece Publishing Pulls out All the Stops for Art Collectors at an Exquisite End-of-the-Year Holiday Gala
Brashares, Kristin Stefek, Art Business News
In a year seemingly filled with more bad news than good, Masterpiece Publishing decided to put a positive spin on things by helping fine art enthusiasts end 2009 on a high note.
In early December, the leading fine art publisher pulled out all the stops with an exquisite holiday gala at the company's southern California headquarters. Seven of the top galleries the company works with, 60 established collectors and 20 prospective collectors attended the event and relished in the rare opportunity to wine and dine with some of the world's top artists and gain insight into their inspirations. Many, including Sofia Michelle Ansari, a collector from Dallas who attended with her husband, Dr. Bob Ali, were still buzzing about the two-day affair well after it ended.
"We thought the event was spectacular," Ansari says. "It was a phenomenal event from beginning to end. It exceeded our expectations."
Masterpiece Publishing owners and founders Daniel Winn and Randy Slavin had many goals in hosting the event, among them building loyalty with galleries and collectors, introducing collectors to artists that their galleries might not yet represent and establishing the provenance of both the company and its artists.
A sophisticated Saturday evening cocktail party at Masterpiece's showroom in Irvine, Calif., kicked off the gala. Guests were escorted to the affair in stretch limousines that picked them up from their upscale hotel--the five-star St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Orange County, Calif. The "wow" factor kicked in the moment the limos pulled up to the showroom, as spotlights streamed golden beams across the sky, marking the entrance. A red carpet lined with string musicians, uplit glass-vased flowers and striking sculptures on pedestals and models posed as statues in front of the showroom's oversized, glass-enclosed, art-filled window displays led guests into the party.
Immediately inside, Canadian artist Andre Desjardins' breathtaking oil paintings greeted guests, many of whom paused to admire the works. A nearby bar served fine wines and leche martinis--the featured cocktail--and delectable bit-sized but-lered apps circulated the gallery floor.
"This is fabulous," said actress Loni Anderson, who attended the event with her husband, Bob Flick. (A former art teacher, Anderson has had a lifelong passion for the arts and owns pieces by Masterpiece Publishing artist Tuan.) "Masterpiece's events are always good, but this one is wonderful. Daniel (Winn) takes presentation to a whole new level."
Throughout the evening, guests were free to browse the art, and most of Masterpiece Publishing's artists were on hand to discuss their works. Nearly 70 percent of the artwork (paintings and sculptures) debuted at the gala, giving guests an exclusive sneak peek at the company's 2010 collection. A 20-minute live performance by a local theater group based on the artworks at the show entertained guests with musical numbers midway through the evening.
Larry Dickson, a collector from Ohio, attended the gala with his daughter and said he enjoyed the chance to meet with the artists.
"It was nice to view new art but even better to be able to meet the artists and discuss their vision of the work," Dickson said.
One of Masterpiece Publishing's top collectors, Dickson owns a broad collection of pieces by the company's artists, including Snowden sculptures, a Tuan acrylic, a Garcia oil painting and a Boban sculpture. "I tend to collect art that I like, and I seem to lean toward the artists at Masterpiece Publishing," he said. "They are all quite talented and represent the best of the best."
At the gala, he added another piece to his collection--a Desjardins painting that his daughter liked. "Now she wants me to re-decorate her room, so that it will fit in--yikes," he said jokingly.
Although they didn't invest in any art at the gala, Ansari and Ali plan to do so in the future.
"We are in the process of collecting paintings, sculptures and glass art," Ansari says. "Currently, we are collecting all genres and media of art that speak to our personalities. We enjoy a broad spectrum. I don't want a house filled with uniform styles of art. It is much more thought-provoking and visually inspiring when every corner or wall has a unique type of artwork. And when people come over, it's so engaging to observe that there is always at least one piece in our small but broad collection for everyone to appreciate."
Ansari and Ali were familiar with the works of Masterpiece Publishing's artists through Galerie Zuger (the owners of which invited them to the gala) in their hometown but grew a deeper appreciation of them at the gala.
"We hope to be collectors of Glen Tarnowski and Tuan this year," Ansari says. "I suspect our next purchase very shortly will be 'Free Thought' by Glen Tarnowski. I'm not sure yet which Tuan piece will find its way home."
Masterpiece Publishing reported major purchases at the gala, including a 56 x 56 inch original painting by Arian, a 48 x 72 inch original painting by Renzo, a 65 x 50 inch original painting by Desjardins, sculptural installation of "Tranquility" by Tuan, sculptural installation of "Nothing to Fear" by Glen Tarnowski and multiple sales of Ira Reines new life-size sculpture titled "Icarus."
After the cocktail reception, guests received a special treat the next day--a tour of the Masterpiece Publishing foundry and special seminar on the lost-wax sculpture process.
"Last night was the glamour and glitz," Winn told guests after they took seats in a room at the foundry. "Today, we go behind the scenes."
Referring to a special diagram with samples from the steps of the process, Winn then delivered an engaging and informative overview of the lost-wax method, an expensive, arduous process that is thousands of years old. From start to finish, the works of Masterpiece Publishing's three current sculptors--Tuan, M.L. Snowden and Boban--take two to six months to create. Winn refers to the sculptures produced as "limited originals" because the artist must be there throughout the entire process making changes, reworking the pieces and overseeing many stages of development--the parts from which he passed around during his lecture.
Winn also explained that Masterpiece Publishing employs an extensive screening process when considering artists to represent--often looking through thousands of resumes to hand-select artists.
"We strive to cultivate the great artists of the future," he says. "These are the future Rembrants and Picassos."
Guests then toured the foundry--viewing each part of the lost-wax process live and in person as artists Tuan, Tarnowski, Des-jardins and Renzo each demonstrated a part of the process.
"This is a rare opportunity to see an intimate part of the artists' lives," Winn told the guests, explaining that the artists typically don't let others view their artistic processes either because they don't want to reveal their technique or because it's too personal.
Ardell Zueger of Galerie Zueger in Dallas appreciated the experience. "The one-on-one contact and the ability to see the actual production makes it so much easier to explain the process to our clients," she said. "It also adds an important dimension to our existing artist program as well."
After the foundry tour, a lunch outing to Winn's favorite restaurant--the elegant, two-story Brodard Chateau in Orange County--ended the weekend with a bang. Servers poured hand-selected wines from Sonoma and delivered numerous courses of scrumptious family style dishes of Vietnamese cuisine and sumptuous Asian fusion food.
At the beginning of the meal, Winn led a toast, expressing his appreciation to everyone for their passion in the arts.
"Without collectors, there would be no galleries, and without galleries, we wouldn't exist," he says.
Winn likened the day's experience at the foundry to seeing Salvador Dali at work in his gallery. "To me, this is history in the making. You can now say that you met and dined with the geniuses of the future and saw them in action."
After dessert, collectors and gallery owners continued to mingle. Many said they enjoyed the opportunity to converse and get to know each other better.
"The gala was definitely worthwhile from both an educational and a social perspective," Ansari says. "We really enjoyed meeting the artists and various collectors from across the country."
Dickson said the above-and-beyond hospitality made the weekend a hit. "Viewing the art was wonderful, but Daniel's hospitality and the meal at Brodard Chateau was exceptional," he said. "The art got me to the event, but Daniel's hospitality and the food will keep me coming back."
Zueger also enjoyed the gala and found the trip worthwhile. "It was a great event--well-planned and very impressive," she said.
In the end, Winn and Slavin said they were pleased with the outcome of the gala and plan to host the event again in December for top collectors and top-selling galleries.
"The event was a tremendous success on all levels," said Slavin, the chief financial officer. "It provided the galleries with an opportunity to build loyalty with their collectors. And, it provided the collectors the opportunity to spend quality time with the artists and to preview and purchase new artworks that are slated for release this year."
Up next: Masterpiece plans to host ArtMP 2010 for gallery owners and staff in late spring. The inaugural ArtMP took place in late April 2009 and proved a hit with the galleries and collectors in attendance. (Visit Art Business News' website--artbusinessnews.com--to read about the event.)
MORE ON MASTERPIECE
For more information on Masterpiece Publishing and the artists the company represents, visit masterpiecepublishing.com.
BY KRISTIN STEFEK BRASHARES * ABN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: An Affair to Remember: Masterpiece Publishing Pulls out All the Stops for Art Collectors at an Exquisite End-of-the-Year Holiday Gala. Contributors: Brashares, Kristin Stefek - Author. Magazine title: Art Business News. Volume: 37. Issue: 2 Publication date: February 2010. Page number: 26+. © 2009 Summit Business Media. COPYRIGHT 2010 Gale Group.