By Sabina Dana Plasse
When living in Sun Valley—where artists and galleries add to the vibrant culture—it’s rare that visitors, second homeowners, and residents don’t acquire, receive, or admire fine art. Regardless of whether a sculpture, painting, or mixed media work is priceless or not, its care and exhibition are paramount—why? As Pablo Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Well, that and art is an investment and worth protecting.
A passionate or curious art collector with a commitment to art most likely has a gamut of interests. Gary Lipton, owner of Lipton Fine Arts in Ketchum with his wife Melissa, has been an art collector since he was 16 years old and has amassed over 300 pieces of fine art. The Liptons opened Lipton Fine Arts to sell fine art, curate exhibitions, and consult on fine art purchases. And having been collectors for so long, they understand the process that goes into protecting their collection. The maintenance of these works help ensure their resale value.
Since the Lipton’s collection includes a great deal of antique furniture as well as American Indian art, organic dyed oriental rugs, Navajo classic blankets, and American art pottery, quality means no nicks, scrapes, or slight damage, which often come with these precious and original pieces and that only few restorers can touch. “Early in my career, I decided to buy blue chip art because it was accessible to all, but it would also grow as an investment,” tells Lipton. “I always do my homework and research the value and condition of the pieces I seek.”
Living in Detroit, Lipton’s parents were art lovers. His father was a dentist and his parents would always visit the Detroit Institute of Arts with a young Gary in tow. The family would also take trips to New York City or Chicago to tour art museums, a tradition that Lipton continues today. Lipton is not in the business of decorative art. When he buys a piece, one of the most important questions he asks is for the history of work. All of Lipton’s art has a certificate of authenticity.
Sun Valley architect Frank William Hayes has been designing custom residences for many years. His designs represent a patient search to create quiet architecture that suits the needs and lifts the spirits of his clients. Hayes has lived and practiced in Greenwich, Connecticut, San Francisco, California, Vero Beach, Florida, and Sun Valley, Idaho, where he resides. Hayes, also an art collector, understands the exhibition and preservation of art and many other types of interests including libraries and listening rooms. He creates plans with individual interpretations geared toward the needs and sensibilities of each client, which have included royalty, dignitaries, corporations, and the well-heeled. Hayes’ work has been featured in several books including American Ski Resort: Architecture, Style, Experience by Margaret Supplee Smith, which includes Hayes with former President Gerald R. Ford in Beaver Creek as well as his work for several Sun Valley homes. Hayes was recommended by Ford’s close friend and Beaver Creek neighbor Leonard Firestone, son of Firestone Tires founder Harvey Firestone.
Frank William – Hayes Architect
Hayes also worked on Kykuit, the Hudson Valley hilltop paradise in New York, which was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family beginning with the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. His business acumen made him, in his day, the richest man in America. Expansive, terraced gardens containing Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller’s exceptional collection of 20th-century sculpture included Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith and underground art galleries with Governor Rockefeller’s collection of Picasso tapestries. These galleries include a portrait of Nelson Rockefeller by Andy Warhol as well works by Fernand Léger, Grace Hartigan, Salvador Soria, Picasso, and Chagall to name a few. One of the galleries contains 12 of a series of 18 tapestries after paintings by Picasso, a project initiated by Nelson Rockefeller and undertaken with the approval of Picasso. “The Rockefeller house had special needs,” Hayes explains, “Side light windows, very low ceilings, and the lights had to be designed by the best lighting designers who existed then.” Hayes said it was tough because there was not much wall space. “Art had to be lit from the ceiling line to the floor line,” he says. “We found out how to do it.”
According to Hayes, those lights are still there because they work. Hayes reveals that lighting is a major part of his architecture. “I use two major consultants,” he tells. “A lighting designer and a colorist. They make my work better, and they were recommended by a New York City gallery owner for a client in Sun Valley. I want the best for my client no matter how I get it.”
Hayes points out that when designing and building a home, keeping art work or an art collection in mind is important because, for example, when there are too many windows, there’s no place to hang art. Hayes always asks a client if they have an art collection. “Some people have an affinity and have art collections and other people don’t,” Hayes says. “For some reason when people move to a mountain town or a place like Sun Valley, they want to collect art. Depending on the collection, it all has to be protected.”
Lipton recommends, besides being very considerate of lighting when exhibiting art, that a drawing or a print should be put under UV Plexiglas. He says, “Never put art on paper in direct sunlight, and all art should be archival framed.”
From the view of an architect, installing art collections is a matter of taste but it can be done better with a good plan. Hayes says, “I’ve always taken a client’s collection into consideration when I have designed homes. I will always pay attention to where art can be placed.”