The luminosity of the doors reflect her passion and commitment to the city of Los Angeles and its artists. A radiologist, avid collector and advocate of the arts – her dedication to the art scene of Los Angeles has served as a beacon of light. Installation is invited inside to behold a stunning collection of artworks, many of which were purchased over the years at INCOGNITO, one of the most anticipated exhibition style event at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA).
For a minimal entrance fee (tickets on sale now for INCOGNITO 10), seasoned and novice art collectors alike can peruse an extensive collection of 700 emerging, mid-career and established artists without knowing the identity of the creator. The auction exemplifies the thrill of the hunt and the surprise of collecting as art enthusiasts fall in love with a work based on its aesthetic properties and emotional connection rather than the influence of the artist’s name. Now celebrating its tenth year, the proceeds support the education and programming of the SMMoA and this year a new 10″x 10″ format is introduced to commemorate the occasion.
Serving as an active member of the board of SMMoA from 2002 through 2008, Dr. V. Joy Simmons is also the Chair of the INCOGNITO 2014 committee. With an enthusiastic cadence, Dr. Simmons explains that she first became involved with SMMoA because “they were showing work and highlighting artists of color that were not getting any love at other museums. And I saw that this space, being [more accessible] could be that other voice and offer something to the L.A. landscape that other museums were not doing.” Intrigued by the energy and synergy of the space, Dr. Simmons adds that INCOGNITO is a vital component of the institution’s programming because it opens the space to a diverse crowd and has the “opportunity to reach out to patrons and collectors who can become patrons of the arts.”
Dr. Simmons first began collecting art while she was a medical student at Stanford University. She began visiting New York City over the spring using her tax refund to explore art. Under the tutelage of her aunt, a collector and founding member of The Studio Museum in Harlem, Dr. Simmons started to visit galleries, studios and museums. She purchased her first work for $50.00 and while it took her five months to pay for the piece, it marked the beginning of a passion that would follow her for decades. “Being a collector is one thing,” she says with a smile, “but I think we have to develop patrons. Young collectors need to understand that this is part of your civic responsibility – to keep these institutions alive.”
“Being a collector is one thing,” she says with a smile, “but I think we have to develop patrons. Young collectors need to understand that this is part of your civic responsibility – to keep these institutions alive.”
During our visit, we are soon joined by Los Angeles based artist Alison Saar, one of the first artists that Dr. Simmons began collecting in the early 90’s. The artist’s work is currently on view at the Watts Towers Art Center in a solo exhibition titled Hothouse. A selection of prints, drawings and sculptures created over the last ten years will be on view at the Noah Purifoy Art Gallery through August 10, 2014. Elizabeth Pezza, Director of Marketing for SMMoA also joins us and engages in a lively discussion of the works on display throughout Dr. Simmons’ magical home.
The changes occurring in the city of Santa Monica will surely inspire a new opportunity to visit SMMoA. Dr. Simmons refers to the museum as a “bird’s nest on the ground” and sees the space nestled in Bergamot Station as a unique cultural destination. As the city of Santa Monica nears the completion of its metro rail project, the museum will be the first stop for many passengers which will open doors to new collectors and inspire patronage within the city. Pezza informs us that INCOGNITO will also celebrate the launch of a new program called “train of thought,” designed to activate the public and include them in the future planning of SMMoA. Anyone who wishes to participate in the dialogue can provide their insight into what constitutes as an an ideal museum. This type of activation will be the first of many programs designed to communicate with the public. Once the campaign comes toward an end, the museum will look to the suggestions offered by the community to inform the decision of the new space. The future of SMMoA is in the hands of the public and with collectors like Dr. Simmons who passionately support cultural programming of the L.A. landscape, the future seems as bright as those stained glass doors.
Featured Image: Elizabeth Pezza admires Dr. V. Joy Simmons’ collection of Alison Saar.
All images of © Installation Magazine