RIC CASTORANO & DOUG HOWARD
ART COLLECTORS, HAMMOND HARKINS GALLERIES

In a new blog series, art collectors are sharing their stories about investing in art from Short North Arts District galleries. Read on for a Q&A from a variety of art lovers in Columbus.

IMG_0937edWhat is your favorite piece in your collection from the Short North Arts District?
We both agree that one of our favorite pieces that we purchased from Hammond Harkins Galleries is by the well-known artist Aminah Robinson.

We first met Aminah at her 75th birthday party in 2015 given by Hammond Harkins Galleries when they were located in Bexley and it has been a love affair ever since. During the show that night we asked her if she would sign our invitation. She, of course, said yes and proceeded to write on the invitation:

“To Doug and Ric….Thank you for the joy you brought to Columbus Ohio, Aminah”

This is one of our prized possessions in our collection today. Aminah was one of those amazing artists that if you had the good fortune to meet and know you were truly blessed. She had a power about her that you felt, and we still feel it in her work every day.

How did you begin your art collection?
The PACE Gallery in New York City also had a gallery located on East Broad Street across from East High School. In the 1970s we lived on East Broad Street just one block away from the Columbus PACE Gallery, who represented many of the same artists as in New York. We were exposed to incredible art and artists that visited for many years. We met Louise Nevelson several times when she was a featured artist at the gallery and would walk down on Saturday mornings to the gallery when she would lecture to CCAD and Ohio State art students.

What drew you to this Short North Arts District gallery?
What drew us to Hammond Harkins Galleries is what continues to draw us to the galleries in the Short North Arts District — is not just the art, but their owners and staff as well. We have built strong relationships with several galleries and rely on them to help guide us in our purchases. They are always willing to take time and talk to us about the different artists they represent. From the very beginning, they’ve made us feel welcomed and like family.

What sort of artwork do you love?
We collect a wide range of art. Our tastes range from traditional landscape oil paintings to ceramics and glass. We also have been adding to our collection by collecting three-dimensional sculptures to hyperrealism paintings.

As a collector, what is special about the galleries in the Short North Arts District?
We have been introduced to so many amazing artists that the galleries in the Short North Arts District represent. In addition to Hammond Harkins Galleries, the galleries we love are Brandt-Roberts Galleries, Sherrie Gallerie and Marcia Evans Gallery. From the moment we walked in these galleries we were greeted and made to feel welcomed. We are on a first-name basis with the owners and staff, and are never made to feel like we are taking up their time nor have we ever felt pressure to purchase. These galleries help to educate us all. To wake up every day and be surrounded by beautiful and interesting art, we feel, helps keep us centered.

What tips do you have for beginner collectors?
Over the years, we have come to realize that there is a big difference between collecting art and buying art. In the past we would attend various art openings and purchase pieces at random. Not to say we did not feel something about each piece, but it was more on the lines of if we liked it, we bought it.

Our recommendation to beginner collectors is to create relationships with galleries you feel have your best interest in mind and do a bit of research on the artists you like. One of our favorite things is to meet the artist, or at the very least, try to contact and talk to them personally. I have emailed artists and asked if I could call them to discuss their work. I have never been turned down, and found all have been more than happy to answer any questions we have.

We have been so fortunate to make good friends with many brilliant and talented artists that are making their mark in this ever-changing world. We are forever grateful to the galleries that help us expand our knowledge of art and have made our lives richer and much more meaningful.