Your Most Memorable Visual Art Experience?

What’s been your most memorable visual art experience? That was my break-the-ice question for panelists at a 2014 talk about art and tech that focused on collecting. The stories people told had a tender quality that reminded me of the stories people tell about falling in love, stories about possibility where the object is a catalyst for longing, awe or memory. Here are a few excerpts from that conversation, lightly edited for readability.


I grew up in a family where both my parents were artists.  During the summer our entertainment was going to art fairs, putting everything in the old Ford station wagon and driving all over. I remember seeing a piece by an artist in La Crosse, Wisconsin named Dan Devitt. It was a scenery, sort of brushy/grassy, with graphite, collage and mixed media. I remember staring at it, looking at it for the longest time, and letting my mom know that I really loved it. I begged her for this piece of art, like “please, I want this piece.” (She actually ended up trading for it.) I think that started my imagination in a way, you know, of being in my own space, of looking at art, and falling in love with something, and having this longing for space.

Nora Swan-Foster, Jungian Analyst



I, too, got taken around as a child. I grew up in Chicago (and there’s great art in Chicago). We’d go to the ballet, and we’d go to museums, and we’d go to the Old Town for art fairs. My mom would buy art and she’d have this little verbal affair with the artist about what it is, and what motivated them, and that was very exciting.

– Richard Polk, Entrepreneur and Arts Patron



My number one, most memorable experience viewing a piece of art was going to the Musée d’Orsay and seeing Manet’s “Olympia.”  Seeing that piece was a memorable experience because it silenced my mind. I’ve been viewing art every day since I was 18 years old. It takes a lot to experience that when you’re completely saturated with art all the time.

Olympia by Edouard Manet

“Olympia” by Edouard Manet (1832-1883), 1863, oil on canvas, 51″ x 75”

Laura James, Arts Administrator



My memorable experience with a piece of visual art was going into the Rothko Chapel and seeing those murals. When you have a busy life, and lots of focus, and your mind is always collecting data, it’s unique to have an experience where the environment quiets your mind, when the art is truly integrated into a place so it captures your attention and you think of nothing else.

Rothko Chapel, Houston, Texas

My first actual piece that I bought was in an antique store. My father lived in the Bahamas and I was in an antique store with my sister when I was like 17, and this etching just caught me. It wasn’t on the wall. It was in a bin with lots of other stuff and the amount of lines that were in the print just caught my attention. Their energy had a relationship to a festival called Junkanoo. And the lines actually gave me a sense of experiencing the noise of the parade and the amount of work that would go into the costumes. You just connect to something and it’s about your family or your story.

– Kimberley Bruckmann, Art Advisor



For me, there’s an intimacy that’s about me. Not everything that I love is going to be great for you if you don’t know its story. I think that’s very special about art.

– Richard Polk, Entrepreneur and Arts Patron



Have a memorable visual art story to share?  Please do in the comments below.

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