“I was fortunate enough to be raised in a household with parents who loved collecting art, people who understood and valued art, so I inhaled it at a really young age,” says Ann Benson Reidy. “I always felt alive walking into a museum or gallery, and I capitalized on my passion when I went to college.”
After earning degrees in art history and American studies at Smith College, she served as a founding member of Culture Haus at Denver Art Museum. She brought her art expertise to Le Jeune Salon and to art events benefiting various charities. And she founded her two companies: Ann Benson Reidy + Associates to work with residential clients and ABR Corporate Art Services to serve businesses.
“My clients find me almost strictly through word-of-mouth. They call and say, ‘I need a piece over the fireplace.’ I set a time to go into the home to review their current aesthetic, understand the budget, genre, size and colors and then offer options across the board from across the country,” she says.
“I give an array of different pieces and bring them directly to the home and talk about if it’s creating the look and feel they want,” she says. “I like to give clients 48 to 72 hours to live with the art to see if it creates a story or sparks something, if they dream about it or connect with it. I’m always looking for something that fills them up.”
Reidy deals with clients across a range of art collecting experience and interests, from neophytes to advanced Andrew Wyeth aficionados.
“A lot of people don’t know what they like. Some grew up with Hudson River Valley and can’t be around that anymore, but a lot want to be surrounded with the familiar,” she says. “Some want to be on a fearless track and find things that move them that are different to create a new journey in how they view the world.”
Whether working in Colorado, Hawaii or elsewhere, Reidy supports local and regional artists and galleries.
“There’s nothing more exhilarating. I truly believe that art and the spirit within what we have collectively as people lifts us up and brings us joy and makes us think differently,” she says.
“Keeping galleries viable brings so much to our community. Having them thrive and stay in this community is really important, not only to lure in big businesses, but to give small businesses a place to find a good selection of art.”
In addition to assisting clients with purchases, Reidy applies expertise to art installations. “It’s my business to make sure a house feels spatially correct, that the genre works and scale is correct when it comes to art so there’s harmony and fluidity,” she says.
“I correct heights of paintings hung too low or too high or not with equidistance. We correct framing every day on pieces that look dated, stale or drab or flat. We bring creativity and mindfulness to assess a picture and revive it so the piece will sing again,” she says.
For Reidy, respecting a client’s current collection is tantamount.
“I’m not that person who tells clients to buy all new art. I never, ever do that because art always has a story and a history. Maybe it was a piece from your grandfather in 1983, and you have heart in it, and you don’t want to let go,” she says.
“I’m conscientious about not starting over. I reuse what they have and reincorporate it into a collection. I’m nonjudgmental and see what people have collected and hear their narrative.”
Reidy typically works with three categories of residential clients.
“A lot of people—young buyers don’t know how to look at art--don’t know how to talk to an artist or a gallerist or know what they like,” she says.
Another group consists of people with young families. “These clients could be 25 or 45, and some have started collecting, but then started a family and got busy with school and soccer and lacrosse. I bring pieces to look at in the home.”
Older people who are downsizing make up the third group.
“They ask, ‘what do I do with all this art?’ We reframe and rehang an entire house so it feels new with the existing collection. They value some of what they have, and other pieces we crate up and ship to auction or to sell privately,” she says.
Reidy, the mother of four, hones her own aesthetic constantly by perusing magazines, following fashion trends and visiting museums or galleries. She emphasizes that art is ever more important in the digital age.
“One thing I really value in art is feeling the touch of the human hand. When you see paint or stain or graphite or pastel placed on any type of medium, you can sense the hand of the artist and the work becomes humanized,” she says.
“That’s really lost with screens. The tactile feeling is lost,” she says, “but I do have admiration for a lot of video artists.”
For art collectors at any age or stage, Reidy offered this advice: “Really be fearless in looking at what art can do for your soul and your personhood and your thinking. Art can release you into a different state of contentment,” she says. “Art can really help with perspective and outlook on life. And it doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars. It can be inexpensive and available, as well. Art is for everybody.”
For Reidy, curating art and consulting with collectors brings gratification and a touch of magic.
“It makes me feel so good to do what I do. It’s so fun, and needs to be fun and not laborious,” she says. “I get to watch a client go weak in the knees and tear up when she sees a piece of art. That emotion: that’s magic. And that’s exactly why I do this.”
Ann Benson Reidy + Associates (residential)
ABR Art Services (corporate)
424 Broadway, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80203
Ann Benson Reidy guides residential and commercial clients through the process of purchasing and installing art, helping them make the best aesthetic and financial decisions in their acquisitions.
Colleen Smith, an author and journalist in Denver, was awarded 2018 and 2019 grants from the Haven Foundation for freelance artists. She won the 2018 Screenplay Contest co-sponsored by the Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media and WIFMCO (Women in Film and Media Colorado.) She writes for numerous magazines and newspapers specializing in fine arts, contemporary pop music and nature.
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