Interview with Jared Bowen for the December 2018 Gentleman’s Auction

CHRIS: Jared, you are somebody who is, you’re
a man about town oftentimes, you attend your share of gallery openings, theater openings,
you have a television program, you appear regularly on WGBH radio. When I contacted you to be a part of this
Gentleman’s Auction with us, what was the first thing that went through your head? JARED: Well first, I was hugely flattered. It’s incredibly flattering to be invited to
put your stamp on anything, especially design-related, but as you mentioned, I have fortune in my
career to cover great events, be exposed to historic people, and just be part of the arts. But I have never done something like this,
I’m a Skinner fan, I do follow auctions, and I loved walking through the warehouse here;
it was like walking into your website. To see everything here, it was pretty magical,
actually. CHRIS: You’ve spoken with me about things
that you like. We’re surrounded with some of them now, a
lot of the things that are around us in this room are going to be offered as part of the
Gentleman’s Auction, what were some of the things that you were drawn to when you took
that tour through our warehouse? JARED: One of the things I immediately thought
of is the horseback riding, I’m a big rider, I ride both English and Western, I’m always
drawn to anything related to horses. First of all, I just think they are absolutely
majestic creatures, beautiful, they translate so well in art itself but anything related
to fox hunting, to Western riding, I’m always drawn to. And then when it comes to fine arts, I think
I have a pretty expansive appreciation and was particularly drawn to the prints that
you have here. It’s such a wide spectrum and I always find
myself drawn to pretty much everything. I can find some kind of emotional aesthetic
resonance in just about everything I look at. CHRIS: From your interest in fox hunting to
all things horseback riding, horses in general, to your appreciation of modern prints, whether
that’s the Post-War contemporary artists, or the American Modernists, your love of Whistler
and people who followed him like Joseph Pennell, there’s a wonderful eclecticism in the things
that you like and I think we’re surrounded in this room by things that represent that
eclecticism and I wish everybody could be as eclectic in their collecting as you are
and as I like to see people do. I think it’s very easy, it’s an easy way to
collect, simply to collect the things that you love. JARED: I think what I’ve come to appreciate
in my years of covering the arts is just how things have come to be. The cultural background, the identity of the
artist, the temperament of the artist; it’s given me an appreciation for just about every
aesthetic style because I can find appreciation in the texture, or the material, or how something
African speaks to us just as well as something that comes from Europe or South America. And I don’t appreciate that singularity, I
like to fill my life with just, I guess, as much that’s as eclectic as possible. CHRIS: It’s a good way to be because it allows
a freedom of collecting where you don’t have to be the person who makes sure that you’ve
Chippendale chair in front of the correct table with the correct metalwork. You can simply walk into an auction as you
did to Skinner, and pick things that are for you. That you can, to your point about having seen
the context of how an item was made, or how an item came to be, being able to appreciate
that context can be the reason to collect that object. JARED: Well, I think I also don’t necessarily
look at objects as just objects. For me, everything that I brought into my
home over the years, through artists I’ve met or travels, they become a conversation
piece in a regard and I appreciate them for how they were made, and the story behind them. The story tells my circumstance in getting
them, so there’s a much deeper meaning and for that reason I don’t think I really care
if something clashes because I think ultimately you can find that pieces speak to one another. You can think of the great artists like Picasso
or Matisse who would collect as much as possible and assemble them all together because they
would inform how they created their own art. I am not a Picasso, I am not a Matisse, but
I certainly appreciate the sentiment. CHRIS: I think it’s a great way to look at
collecting, that, or even just buying things, you don’t even have to be, I don’t even necessarily
consider myself a collector, I just like to have things that speak to me for some reason,
and maybe that’s collecting, maybe not. But the only reason that this is next to that,
or this is in my house at all, is because there was some sort of reaction that I had
to it. I wasn’t necessarily looking for that type
of art, I just encountered it, it became something that I wanted, and I made an effort to buy
it. JARED: Well, I also think that there’s something,
with apologies to designers who of course are great to, there’s also something a bit
boring in very traditional design that’s handed to us via catalogues and certain magazines
that tell us what the design of the moment is supposed to be, how we are supposed to
live. That’s boring. We have to find it ourselves, we have to create
ourselves, it has to be a reflection of who we are and how better to do that than to find
these objects that really have this singularity to them instead of being like the lemmings
following everybody else. The other thing that I appreciate about a
place like Skinner is that you know that you’re buying something that has a history. And you’re shepherding it to the next generation
and I’ll tell you for all the things I buy, I wonder what my nieces and nephew will do
with is someday. And there’s a great value in knowing that
you are taking care of something that was crafted and not just manufactured out of plastic
and pumped to us versus via any of the chain stores that come our way now. CHRIS: It’s something that we talk about all
the time, that we are again, if I don’t refer to myself as a collector, I’m at least a custodian
of that thing, I’ve charged myself with taking care of it for…because I won’t own it forever
because I won’t live forever. I’m just in charge as you seem to say you
are in charge, of just making sure that that thing is carefully watched for as long as
it’s in your possession. So I’m glad you enjoyed yourself; it’s been
great and will continue to be great, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the process. JARED: Well, thank you for having me.

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