The (insert your name here) Gallery
Home. It’s where the heart is. More so in the South than anywhere else it seems. A New Yorker who likes you meets you at a bar. A Southerner who likes you invites you through their front doors. It’s where we entertain. It’s what we work for. It’s why everyone’s running around like crazy in case Irene changes her mind.
We’re also an art city, home to some spectacular galleries. Local and international art work…ours for the picking.
Now combine the two. The home as an art gallery. A spectacular place to feast your eyes on an extraordinary collection, then roll over and go to bed. A dream in itself.
Enter the home of Dottie and Brandon Shreve, a fun, spirited couple in Wild Dunes with one of the best and most diversified art collections around. These are the kind of people who will give you a David Baker after they’ve just met you if they think you’ll love it. They truly love art, and want to share that love with everyone they come in contact with. Starting with welcoming you into their home.
There are hidden gems around every corner that build up to the heart of it all – the double gallery style living room, with spectacular wall-to-wall paintings. You’ll find a lot of figure pieces (Dottie calls the human body “stunning”), landscapes, still life and sculpture. When asked what they don’t have, it seems modern abstract is the only thing missing. “Because we don’t understand it,” muses Brandon. Dottie just laughs.
It all started when they met an artist in New Hampshire, David Baker (now in the Smithsonian), who they said was “fascinating.” His was the first work they started collecting. From there, they started buying a piece from every place they traveled, slowly building their collection. Dottie says back when she didn’t have money, she bought prints…people didn’t seem to know what they were selling back then and she says she got lucky. Then they met Erwin Bernstien (widely known as “Tiny” because, of course, he was very tall), an internationally known collector who became something of an art mentor to them. And “luck” went out the window.
Tiny taught them to first and foremost, buy what you love. Plain and simple. (Like the first time they saw a John Carroll Doyle painting at a party, describing it as an “oh boy, oh boy, oh boy” moment). In terms of tips for investment? Trust your gut. Don’t buy at the bottom…wait until an artist is starting to get known, even if it’s the difference between $400 and $4,000. Work with a good gallery.
From that, Dottie and Brandon entered “Collector” world.
They tell us about a few favorites. Dottie loves “Au Bar,” a French painting that she says is the “perfect example of tension between a man and a woman.” It’s true…a bar, attraction, closing time…your mind can’t help but to skip ahead an hour. We love “Lanters,” a painting by a Chinese artist that depicts a girl entering puberty – excited but timid – with her ancestors guiding her. Brandon, of course, loves “Bikini Girl.” And why wouldn’t he? The artist did it as a study of his young, beautiful wife. Then they divorced and he practically gave the thing away (only to later search for it), and Brandon was the lucky swooper-inner.
“You never tire of a piece you love,” Dottie says. To this day, she and Brandon will sit on their couch with a glass of wine and talk about individual pieces, remember stories of meeting the artist, discover new things. And it’s a great conversation starter with newcomers. On one of our first visits, Brandon showed us a gorgeous sculpture of a women with a sheet falling down her back. He ran his fingers down the small of her back and instructed us to do the same. Extraordinary. He went back for more. “He’s allowed to stroke that one,” Dottie assures.
Whether your pieces are $10 or $50,000, Dottie says, “If you truly love a piece, you truly love a piece. Value doesn’t matter.”
So hop on in. Check out our local galleries and random home sales, and slap on the “Collector” title. Then have an Art Walk any night of the week you want.
Story by: Caroline Nuttall
Photos by: Karson Photography