“Here there be tygers…”
I title this essay with the phrase that old time pirates and cartographers used when they did not know what was at the edge of the map; places of the great unknown containing adventure, treasure and undiscovered gems….
My family and I had gone for a week to visit friends and ring in the New Year in Bisbee, AZ. Looking forward to the trip, my vision was great company, great food and great memories. Unbeknownst to me, it would also include great art. I have often found that the most wonderful experiences are the ones that are unplanned, happy accidents or serendipitous encounters; one afternoon on Main Street in Bisbee I experienced just that.
On a midday stroll of the downtown district, my family and I were window shopping with an eye to picking up some local souvenirs. Bisbee is known for its mining history as well as its current day hipness; a landscape of creative types in the shadow of the closed Copper Queen Mine, and there are any number of shops catering to visitors with an eye to taking a reminder home with them. Charming really and filled with personality.
As we walked along the main drag, my eye caught sight of a store front unlike the others; quite frankly it was shocking as the facade was decorated in a way that was remarkable; a vast arrangement of flowers created a threshold that covered the entire front of the establishment. I couldn’t believe my eyes as the only other place I’d ever seen such a presentation was at a well-known fine art gallery in London just a few months earlier.
As I approached, I was further surprised to see what was within. Here, in the small town of Bisbee, were the most wonderful treasures of contemporary art. It was as if a twister had picked up a gallery from the Chelsea district of NY or the downtown Arts District of Los Angeles and dropped it down in this Arizona border town. Seeing the works of Andy Warhol, Kara Walker, the Connor Brothers, Kerry James Marshall as well as Banksy was such a surprise that I expected to see a witch’s red slippers sticking out from under the building! World class art in a setting in which you would least expect it…
Mesmerized, I walked into the Artemizia Foundation and found it to be exactly what I was hoping for, an oasis of culture and sophistication. It is testimony to one man’s dream of surrounding himself with the best art that he can find and bringing it “home” to share with locals and visitors alike who might never have a chance to visit it in the places where it typically resides. Sloane Bouchever hosts the foundation with aplomb, fielding all questions and entertaining all comments (even when they involve the typical “my kid could do that…”).
Building on a foundation of “Blue Chip” artists, Bouchever continues to support and collect some of the art world’s up-and-comers. Often with an eye toward collecting the work of female artists and artists of color, the permanent collection is ever expanding and developing.
Having spent the better part of 40 years in the art business, traveling the world to its “art meccas” from NY to LA, Paris & London as well as China and Japan, I have often thought what a simpler (and better) life it might be to just open a gallery in a spot where one would like to live and display the type of art that one genuinely enjoys while sharing and educating the passers-by. Sloane Bouchever is doing just that with the Artemizia Foundation in Bisbee, AZ and we (and the town) are the better for it.
Daniel Crosby ~ SPS Limelight Agency ~ Los Angeles, CA