A collector's passion

Everard Auctions holds sale of Arthur B. Kouwenhoven's extensive East Village collection

TO A beginner, art collecting can be daunting. The task of pairing works can seem complex and is often hit or miss, and the cost of some works is enough to leave people searching for a new hobby.

Let Arthur B. Kouwenhoven show you the way.

Kouwenhoven has been collecting artwork for years, and now part of his collection is available for sale at Everard Auctions and Appraisals.

Kouwenhoven collected art in the East Village from the 1960s to the 1980s and was friends with many of the artists he supported. The collection is both financially accessible and expansive, including works from John Wesley, Philip Pavia and Mario Yrisarry as well as one of Salvador Dali’s early pieces. The works for sale range from $100 to $100,000.

Kouwenhoven worked for design firm Jansen Inc. for many years and designed for such clients as the Kennedy White House. He became involved in the East Village art scene, spending time at the famed Club 57.

“Arthur is very kind and always helps us place objects for sale. Traditionally, we do furniture at our actions and Arthur always helps us,” notes Ava Pandiani of Everard Auctions. “He likes works in the space. He’s not really about the white cube look, so you’ll see the pieces interspersed with furniture.”

“People buy works of art and sculpture and they put them in their home,” adds Kouwenhoven. “They need to see it.”

Kouwenhoven’s placement of artwork in the space is unique in that it challenges traditional concepts of what art collections look like. He’s not afraid to blend works of different artistic styles and periods, and the risk pays off.

“It shows how you can still have antiques in your house and then really contemporary things and it still works,” says Amanda Everard, president of Everard Auctions.

“Nobody in their right mind, except me, maybe, would put these together,” laughs Kouwenhoven, “but it works. The good about every period works, and people don’t realize that.”

The art featured in Kouwenhoven’s collection is experiencing resurgence in popularity with the Museum of Modern Art’s new exhibition “Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978-1983.” Club 57 was an alternative creative space in the basement of a Polish church in Manhattan and was a homebase for the counterculture. Keith Haring frequented and performed at the club, as did Madonna, RuPaul, and Cyndi Lauper. The collection features a folder from Club 57 with original artwork and bills of sale that Kouwenhoven has kept through the years.

Continuing his passion for supporting the arts, Kouwenhoven’s collection for sale also includes local artists, with works by Matt Hebermehl, Garrett Odenwelder, Noah Towne, and Jason Hackenwerth.

“All of these people need help, and that’s what we’re trying to do—set up something like a Savannah annual,” explains Kouwenhoven. “We’ve gotten the people, but this is the beginning. It shows what I’m trying to do. Everybody doesn’t get promoted—that’s what we’re going to try to do with this thing.”

In addition to the annual, Kouwenhoven’s future plans include opening a gallery, but his ultimate goal remains to inspire people to collect artwork.

“Maybe we’re starting something down here,” ponders Kouwenhoven. “I hope it’s to get people to buy art. People are afraid to make a comment. It’s a commitment. To be involved in music, there’s no commitment. People shouldn’t be afraid to say, ‘Okay, I like this, and I don’t care if you don’t like it, so keep your mouth shut.’”


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