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Beacon Back Story: So you want to be an art collector?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 11, 2013 - Sure, you appreciate art. Maybe you go to the occasional gallery opening or museum exhibition. But when the talk turns to collecting, do you feel out of your league? Or even if you're already an avid collector, do you wonder how others surround themselves with the things they love?

How does one approach, or add to, a collection of cherished objects? We'll show you what we learned in a series called "The Art of Collection," which begins with two premises: 1) You don't have to be rich to collect, and 2) "art" is anything that strikes your fancy.

Thousands of items ranging from impressionistic landscapes to vintage telephones and a taxidermied peacock make up the collection of Central West End gallery owner Philip Slein. Slein's belief in all these items as "art" is shared by Lisa Melandri, director of St. Louis' Contemporary Art Museum. Recently she had the chance to see the collection that fills Slein's Washington Avenue loft during a viewing party in her honor.

"I absolutely love it," Melandri gushed, as the Beacon recorded her winding tour through Slein's assortment of objects and oddities d'art. "He's curating one 'whole' of a visual experience though all these individual pieces and that's a very transformational thing."

Next week, through Slein's collection and Melandri's eyes, we launch an ongoing occasional series that will include insiders' tips on how much money you'll need to start amassing art and how to negotiate with dealers. We'll take you into the homes of local collectors including some of those who preside over St. Louis' major art institutions.

We hope you'll enjoy these glimpses into private collections, which demonstrate the very personal nature of art, and the ways in which we all can live with the things we love.

Nancy is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, and she particularly delights in the stories of people living and working in that intersection.

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