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My Art Collection: Heather Pappas 

About the series: 'My Art Collection' is an occasional Sky Blue Window feature that explores works on the walls and shelves of art enthusiasts across the metropolitan area. Collections -- big, small, expensive and inexpensive -- are included. But they all have one thing in common: art-world inspiration.

Name: Heather Pappas

Her work: Residential Realtor with F.C. Tucker

Her play: Traveling, reading, being a wife and mom, and hanging out with the family's new puppy.

Collection Cliffs Notes: 12-15 works that range from originals to limited serigraphs, from artists Jorge Santos to Barbara Quinn and James Wille Faust.

Favorite pieces: The Jorge Santos "revenge" pieces and Alice Neel's "Victoria and the Cat."

Decade she began collecting: 1990s.

Something she'll never have in her art collection: Mass, reproduced art. "I can't see me with the 'dogs playing poker,' " piece.


click to enlarge A Robert Cecil original, “Balarenia” is among the happy, feel good pieces of art in Pappas' collection. - PERRY REICHANADTER
  • Perry Reichanadter
  • A Robert Cecil original, “Balarenia” is among the happy, feel good pieces of art in Pappas' collection.

Some collectors purchase works of art based on an artist's name. Others choose pieces from a specific style or because of the potential return on their investment.

Heather Pappas usually lets her emotions lead the way.

Although small in number -- there are about 15 works hanging throughout her Westfield home -- Pappas' collection of contemporary, abstract and traditional art reveals a lot about the last 25 years of her life.

"I think I can tell what type of mental frame I was in at the time when I look at these works," said Pappas, walking throughout the home she shares with her husband and two teenage sons.

"You can tell that I was happy at the time I bought this," she said, pointing to a Robert Cecil oil painting of a ballerina at the barre. That piece, with its brown, pink, yellow and gold hues, is surrounded by other "feel-good" works in Pappas' basement.

There's two prints from American painter and sculptor Robert Longo's black-and-white "Men in the Cities" series of modern day professionals -- both men and women -- in various forms of movement. And Rich Crawford's colorful 3-D work "Goggles," featuring a woman who is chin deep in water while wearing goggles filled with brightly colored fish. It's a piece Pappas purchased while on vacation in Maui.

Some works, however, represent more challenging times in Pappas' life, which is reflected in one of her favorite pieces.

"I call this the revenge piece," said Pappas about a painting by surrealist Jorge Santos that greets visitors inside the foyer near the home's front door.

The large-scale oil on canvas -- purchased at the Evan Lurie Gallery in Carmel -- depicts a man desperately hanging onto a tree branch that's dangling over a cliff while a little girl wearing a red bonnet and a smile watches with a sense of satisfaction and amusement.  

"He kicked over her cart and now you can see that he's going down," said Pappas.

 "The Jorge Santos ... I bought that after a breakup, and I thought I was done wrong," she said, with a devious chuckle.  

A Realtor with F.C. Tucker, who sells residential properties, Pappas began collecting by happenstance at the tender age of 20.

While living in the Marott apartments at Meridian and Fall Creek in the early 1990s, Pappas stumbled across an art auction being held in her building one evening. She walked into the auction, was handed a paddle and soon found herself purchasing her first work: an image of a vase with flowers. Pappas doesn't recall the artist's name, but says that the work was more European in style.

click to enlarge Pappas appreciates the understated power of the courtesan in this Fabian Perez piece. - PERRY REICHANADTER
  • Perry Reichanadter
  • Pappas appreciates the understated power of the courtesan in this Fabian Perez piece.

"I bought it because it was cute and colorful," said Pappas, who now has a collection of original works and limited-edition serigraphs and lithographs purchased during vacations and business trips.

Some of the works in her current collection were bought through recommendations from friend and art historian/curator Helen Ferrulli, including pieces by Barbara Quinn, Alice Neel and Indianapolis artist James Wille Faust.

"I don't know if any of my pieces will make any money, but a few of them are insured," said Pappas.

Regardless of their current or future value, Pappas enjoys how the artworks make her feel and the conversations that they provoke.

In the entry foyer, just a few feet away from the Santos painting, is one such conversation piece.

Fabian Perez's "Giorgina," one in a series of 35 oil paintings by the Argentinian-born painter, shows a dark-haired courtesan draped across a chaise lounge with a lit cigarette in her hand.

"They're all prostitutes from the brothel that Perez grew up in, but they're not your typical prostitutes," said Pappas. "These were courtesans who entertained men of wealth. They were well educated and could hold a conversation.

"To me, that piece illustrates power."

Back down in the basement, Pappas appreciates the childish awkwardness in painter Alice  Neel's "Victoria and the Cat." The numbered work (23 of 100) features Neel's young granddaughter, Victoria, naked and holding a rather large cat.

Pappas comments on the abnormal shape of the little girl's hands and points out that the Victoria is now an adult artist in her own right whose work has been on exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York.

As Pappas talks about her collection, you quickly realize just how much she actually knows about the artists' work and their personal stories.

click to enlarge David DeVary made a name for himself in his second life as a painter of striking images from the Old West. - PERRY REICHANADTER
  • Perry Reichanadter
  • David DeVary made a name for himself in his second life as a painter of striking images from the Old West.

One of the more interesting is about David DeVary, "who used to be an ad executive in New York City until he got tired of the stress and pressure and went West to start creating art," said Pappas. "DeVary was actually the guy who created the McBurgler character for McDonald's." Today, he's known for his large-scale images of cowboys, cowgirls and the West done in his signature gold and silver-leafing process.

DeVary's "Morning Coffee" hangs just left of the entrance to Pappas' bedroom door, which leads to one of the more impressive works if only because of its size.

The replica of John Singer Sargent's "Venetian Woman" used to belong to one of Pappas' client's, who took a picture of the famous 1882 painting, had it enlarged and placed on a canvas about 10- or 11-feet-tall. It now hangs next to Pappas' bed.  

Several original works from Indiana artists also are on display throughout the home.

"Life" by Indianapolis painter Cindy Wingo is a long, looping black line of acrylic paint drawn from end to end on a gray canvas that hangs just a few steps away from the Perez piece.

Heather Pappas stands before Cindy Wingo's version of "Life." - PERRY REICHANADTER
  • Perry Reichanadter
  • Heather Pappas stands before Cindy Wingo's version of "Life."

Pappas has several landscapes from former Fort Wayne cardiologist-turned artist Dr. Fred Doloresco, a friend of Pappas' husband, Joe.

Also in her collection is a landscape piece featuring trees by illustrator and painter April Willy, a graduate of Herron School of Art. "These are trees with a twist, sort of like from a Dr. Seuss book," said Pappas. And a colorful 3-D piece of Indianapolis sculptor/painter James Wille Faust's signature "egg" in an array of vibrant blues.

Although pleased with the works that she has collected over the past two decades, Pappas is always open to the possibility of adding other pieces.

In fact, there are a couple of artists whose work she'd love to acquire -- if money allows -- including photographer Cindy Sherman and conceptual and installation artist Damien Hirst.

Pappas contends that even though she doesn't get attached to things -- like houses and other material objects -- she has a strong affinity for her collection of artworks.

"I've lived in multiple places in the past 14 years," said Pappas, who's collection has followed her during every move. "Change happens, but art has been a consistent thing in my life.

"Art makes my house feel like a home."

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Shelby Roby-Terry

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