Collector Spotlight: High Above It All

Best-selling authors Doug and Bev Keil live at 7,400 feet high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains with their rescue cats and Doberman, Bandit, the subject of Bev’s first novella, Diary of a Dumpster Pup.

Bev and Doug met over forty years ago when she hired him as an ad manager for a Buffalo industrial conglomerate. The company won awards for corporate identity design which was reflected in the logo, architecture, advertising and community involvement. This was their first exposure to the importance of art as communication. The company, long since acquired and scattered, understood that even a gritty, smoke-filled sky needs a glimmer of sunlight.

During their business careers, Doug and Bev lived in Chicago, Manhattan and Washington D.C., where they were continually exposed to the art world – although the majority of the paintings they bought over the years were acquired on ski vacations.

“Restaurants in Vail, Killington, and Park City are decorated with works by local artists, so we would often ask, is it for sale?” says Bev. “The answer was always the same, ‘of course’. Now we have watercolors and acrylics, all with memorable food spatters.”

Having retired from corporate lives, Bev and Doug both turned to writing, which curiously involves paintings purchased from UGallery. For example, BarCats is a thriller where the protagonist was inspired by the Jonelle Summerfield painting, The Diner.

“I passed by her painting many times during the day wondering about interrupting the patron languishing over his omelet. Bumper, our blind and deaf thirteen year old rescue, hopped onto the nearby fireplace hearth, giving me the answer. Five stray cats slipped into the tavern, jumped up on stools right behind the Diner, acting as if they expected to be served. Thinking creatively the bartender in Bertrand Girard’sMorning Coffee nonchalantly poured beer into saucers, which they lapped up, before all hell broke loose forcing Summerfield’s Diner into action.”

Along with writing, the Keils are avid golfers and pickleball players along with their winter sports. Neither of the Keils had ever been team sport players or observers, but the odd game of pickleball (combination of tennis and ping pong) brings complete strangers into a unique vignette of intense activity and short social breaks.

Because they are in a resort community with many second home owners, home decorating becomes almost as frequent a topic as favorite restaurants.

“For the younger players the idea of buying art online isn’t remotely a concern. They buy food, clothing, find their homes, apply for college and jobs, and meet their significant other on the Internet. Our age group insists, ‘you have to see it’, until we explain UGallery allows returns as simple as sending back a blouse to Neiman Marcus because you don’t like the color.”

In terms of how to start browsing, Doug and Bev suggest skipping the filters initially.

“We still don’t know if we like abstract or surrealistic, still life or landscape, but our eye does. Typically, I fast scroll through sixty paintings of the New Art e-mail sent Thursdays. If something clicks, I send it to Bev – reject or discuss. Pretty simple.”

The Keil’s offered further advice to other kindred art collectors…

“As far as following artists, again a glance at the new releases does that for us. We also make it a practice to rotate all of our artwork; paintings, sculptures, photographs, wood and fabric hanging at least once a year. Bringing an old piece out from storage gives it new life. Change them around when you put new batteries in your smoke alarms. Also buy original whenever you can. There is a communication in seeing the brush stroke, knife flick and finger smears you cannot get in a print. But buy what you can afford. Art is not an investment for anything more than your pleasure. 99.99% of us will never make money investing in art.”