BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
We recently sat down with Robin Wylly McCown, of The McCown Collection, LLC, to find out how to incorporate art into home environments. She promises that art can change the entire dynamic of a room and the overall effect of your house.
The Alabama native, who has been a Chicago art consultant for 30 years, explained a recent project:
“The best recipe for helping to build a stellar and site-specific art collection combines an intelligent, discerning, and eager client with an open mind, augmented by focus, eagerness for intense collaboration, and a sensible budget.
“My work is all about my clients and each of their unique homes or offices. Everything I recommend must be relevant and reflect my clients’ personal tastes and wishes, and should be in harmony with the existing art and familial objects already owned and cherished.
“In the case of corporate projects, I make recommendations after honing in on the mission and history of the company.”
Often, Robin’s clients bring her in just to refresh the look of their home or office space. This often requires replacing outdated frames and changing the existing art placement.
“Some clients actually have acquired great art on their own or inherited family pieces, paintings, prints, or sculpture. Without the proper frames, pedestals, or placement, the most exquisite works of art can be diminished; one wrong choice can negatively change the whole dynamic of a room. Making the right choices, selecting the best frames, and making the right placement all are the keys to successful results.”
The clients whose house is featured below told Robin they wished to only purchase pieces that specifically spoke to them.
“They had already acquired a couple of wonderful still life paintings and a colorful abstraction. They were hooked on their love of art and beauty and wished to expand their growing collection. We hit it off right away. When there is trust and mutual admiration, projects like this one are a total dream!”
The couple first sought the help of prominent Chicago designer Madeline Gelis. Ms. Gelis’s design approach was warm and quiet, and she knew that the final result would only be enhanced by the art choices. After having worked with The McCown Collection on other projects, Ms. Gelis recommended Robin to assist the couple with art procurement, framing, and placement.
“The first and most important contemporary ethereal painting that was procured for the living room was meant to complement design creations of Ms. Gelis.”
The living room features a narrow wall that can be seen upon entering the apartment. Ms. McCown felt this was an important wall to display something that would introduce a feeling of peace and tranquility, hence the 17th century Chinese scroll (a love poem) that is embellished with a custom designed frame.
This was the perfect choice, as the clients often spoke of their desire to acquire a Tang Dynasty horse to stand opposite of this wall, which they happily found on their own after the installation of the scroll.
The front hall of this well-decorated home features an exquisite French bureau that Robin felt should be balanced with something unexpected—actually something a “bit messy”—hence the black and white abstraction.
“As the home is an interesting and cool mix of contemporary and traditional, the couple liked the idea of something ‘edgy’ and loved the idea of a photograph on the adjacent wall.”
Robin always stresses that relevance is important: “The clients love architecture. The large contemporary work in the dining room is an homage to the much-celebrated architectural French photographer, Eugene Atget.”
Robin recommended simple black-and-white cutting-edge abstractions over a bed.
“The bedroom is sheer perfection with hand-embroidered bedding complemented by the stunning silk drapes. I wanted to introduce something contemporary that was in keeping with the feeling that Ms, Gelis helped create.”
The clients are both from Tennessee. When they learned about a photographer in Nashville, they wanted to somehow incorporate his work in their home office. Robin created an interesting grouping.
“Powder rooms are always a great place to exhibit extra special pieces, hence the collection of small etchings by Pablo Picasso. The creation of splendid custom-designed frames adds so much to the beauty of the art.”
“This project has been worked on over a period of time and we still are looking for something special for an end of a hallway,” Ms.McCown says. “It is best to wait for the ‘right piece’ rather than rushing to fill the walls.”
“Such a project should be viewed as a collection odyssey,” she continues. “Every step of the process should be embraced and, most of all, enjoyed. Sharing my extensive knowledge of the art market and my creative talents with nearly 34 years of experience is a great personal and professional joy. I take to heart the trust that is put into my efforts and care deeply about helping to enhance homes and corporations.”
“These special clients are a wonderful husband and wife team. They were so pleased with the results of their growing collection, that the condominium art committee asked me to procure the perfect piece for the building lobby.”
Ms. McCown presented a well-priced painting by an important emerging artist and designed a custom silver leaf frame to stay in keeping with the aesthetic of this important Chicago landmark.
“Most of my projects come to me by ‘word of mouth.’ Happy and satisfied clients are the best promoters. I have the best job in the world! It is so satisfying to help create and share beauty. It is heartwarming to know that in some small way I am helping to make a difference for gifted artists. And it is very rewarding to work with such special and appreciative clients who will appreciate my efforts for many years to come.”
Ms. McCown adds that working in this featured home was one her favorite projects of all time.
To learn more, visit mccowncollection.com.