When you think of an art collector, who do you picture? How do you imagine the process of curating and buying art?
A new collaboration invites you to picture an experience that’s exciting and deeply meaningful – and yourself in the role of that collector. D.C. gallery and boutique Homme; Paris, France-based Artgence; and D.C. experience, media and design group Pakke are partnering to open a window on the creation, curation and collection of art.
Homme founder Amir Browder has strong history in the D.C. arts community. He started Homme back in 2014 at the Anacostia Arts Center before settling at 52 O Street Studios in Truxton Circle, which became a unique, intimate boutique space for independent artists of all disciplines and a fixture in D.C.’s emerging art scene. Homme is “an epicenter for independent creators to monetize their creativity in a nontraditional, intimate space,” he says.
Artgence, a multidimensional consultancy and marketplace for art collectors and artists, began as “showing people around in Paris to different galleries,” according to founder Marques Hardin.
“Unless you do your research ahead of time, you won’t have a clue where they are,” Hardin explains.
Especially with the advance of Covid-19, Artgence has evolved into a tech-centered experience where clients can browse artwork in digital galleries.
“The premise of Artgence is purely art placement,” he adds. “Every piece of art has a home.”
Pakke is known for unusual events and pop-ups in unexpected places – from people’s homes to alleyways and warehouses. CEO and co-founder Emmett Ferra says when the pandemic hit, the business transformed.
“We started doing online variety shows and finding ways to give audiences more opportunities to view and connect with artists still in the D.C. community,” Ferra says.
The enthusiasm for this new media and design direction for Pakke’s work helped form the seed of the collaboration to come.
Ferra introduced Hardin and Browder, and the rest is history. Between Browder’s love of European football and Hardin’s appreciation for D.C., it’s clear they’re not just collaborators, but friends.
“We came together like Voltron,” Browder jokes. “We’re all experts at what we’re doing here. We all have something to bring to the table. And when we connected, it was perfect timing.”
Browder, Ferra and Hardin began dreaming up ways to connect more artists with collectors and create an international, cultural exchange.
“Amir and Marques both wanted to give artists more opportunities,” Ferra says. “But even as we were having those initial conversations, we thought, ‘There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be documented.’”
Thus, the concept for Artgence x Homme was born: to not just exchange art, but to film and share a documentary story about the process – one that involves the artist, collector and curator together.
“You can’t have artists who are incredibly talented [and] have the ability to transcend multiple cultures, and not give voice and credence to them,” Ferra adds.
The concept is ambitious, involving traveling to visit artists where they live and work.
“For example, if we’re going to Tanzania to meet with an artist, we’re going where they recommend [and] eating the food and listening to the music [they suggest],” Browder says.
It doesn’t just make for a great story, but also provides crucial context for contemporary art collectors.
Hardin notes, “When someone buys a piece of art, they’re investing in that artist. Those are important conversations to have with collectors.”
The group is focusing on developing a script that will not only better educate people about how the art collection process works but also give artists “an opportunity to understand what the market is telling them,” Ferra says.
Browder, Ferra and Hardin are seeking more collectors to introduce to the artists they’re connected with, like photographer Kwame Acheampong and painter Rain Spann. Part of the goal is to remove some of the mystique and gatekeeping around collecting art, or fears that it’s a pursuit reserved for the wealthy.
“People are seeing multimillion-dollar paintings being sold, but there’s so much more to it,” Hardin says. “There’s something for every single budget. This is about bringing a new generation of art to collectors, too.”
Browder adds, “So many people purchase their first work of art from me via payment plans or installments, and we want to show that, too.”
The Artgence x Homme project will begin with a focus on Black artists, who are critically underrepresented in the traditional art world.
“Representation matters,” Hardin says. “I wish I had seen more artists who look like me [growing up]. I think that’s one reason why there aren’t a lot of Black art collectors.”
By intentionally tapping the talent of underrepresented artists, Hardin says, curators have the power to open peoples’ eyes.
Browder agrees, “We’re finding some amazing artists that no one’s ever heard of and bringing their work back to an amazing collector’s house. There’s strength in numbers.”
With that in mind, the group is seeking more partners to support the Artgence x Homme effort so they can begin filming, editing and simultaneously telling the story of buying and making art.
“There’s many different stories we want to tell as we develop this series, and there’s so much within the supply chain of art that people don’t really have access to,” Ferra says.
While Hardin, Browder and Ferra build the foundation to launch the project, readers and those interested getting involved can find the three in a variety of ways.
Browder shares artwork and updates on Homme via Instagram @homme_dc. Don’t miss Homme’s exhibition “Currency? Material, Radiator: A Retrospective” by Marta Lola Staudinger of Latela Curatorial, which runs from March 5-27, and includes plenty of opportunities to check it out online. Hardin shares a daily #ArtAddictDaily post in his Instagram stories for @artgence, but the best way to reach him is via Facebook or LinkedIn @artgence.
All three are happy to share their passion for art and collection, and their collaboration with folks who are interested.
As Hardin puts it, “Art is not necessary. It’s essential.”
For more on Artgence visit www.artgence.co or follow them on Facebook at www.fb.com/artgence or @artgence on Instagram. Follow Homme DC at www.fb.com/hommedcboutique on Facebook or @homme_dc on Instagram. Learn more about Pakke at www.discoverpakke.com and follow @discoverpakke on Instagram.
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