With the fast approaching Annapolis Arts Week, a week-long citywide celebration of the arts where you’ll find plenty of artwork to offer for your own collection – I wanted to take a closer look at the art that artists collect. So I’ve settled on bringing that to light in this series: here you will find Annapolis-based-art-collectors, with a creative edge of their own. Come with me as I take a look at different Artists Who Collect Art. This week, you’ll meet the Comports.
I recently moved. With that comes its own set of elements that are exciting and also kind of a drag: cleaning out closets, lifting heavy boxes, the beginnings of new chapters… you get the picture. The thing that struck me most upon emptying my old place was the bareness of the walls. Just a short time ago it was populated with imagery that surrounded me every day that served as reminders of trips I’d taken, creative friends, a special time in my life, or just a feeling that resonated with me. Like an aesthetic fingerprint, every art collection is unique. Consider it a visual timeline documenting our encounters with people, places, and things that struck a chord with us along the way.
About The Comports
Allan and Sally Comport are a powerhouse couple in the industry of visual communication.
Sally has been a life-long illustrator and designer: first working for her dad’s advertising agency as a teenager, followed by years of fueling her own illustration studio. In 2003, she melded her knack of visual problem-solving with her love of working large scale with the launch of her environmental design company Art at Large, Inc. Sally has racked up awards for her work as a children’s book illustrator, including a recent Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, as well as recognition for museum exhibits and public art installations.
Allan dove into the creative field as an agent for Sally, helping her run the illustration studio. He expanded his roster of illustrators as a rep for world-renowned Shannon Associates. For over 15 years he has shared this knowledge of the business of illustration as a professor at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Allan serves as Chair of the Illustration Department, which has remained the school’s fastest-growing major for more than a decade.
Spending their lives immersed in art, the Comports have one of the coolest art collections I’ve seen.
Upon entering, you’re greeted by a few strong black & white pieces, including a litho by renowned public artist Christo (top middle), a print by Francie Hester (bottom middle), and a figurative drawing by Henri Matisse (right), as well as photographs by legendary Annapolis photographer Marion Warren (left). Sally got to know and collect Marion’s work when she helped produce a public art installation of his work through ArtWalk, a non-profit public art initiative she co-founded.
Their open-concept living space features mid-century modern styled furnishings accentuated by the brilliant color of various artworks, including several pieces of Sally’s. A large frame with selections of her editorial illustration flanks their dining table. Above the table where the Gold Medal lives (next to a monster cactus!) is an illustration Sally did for Wall Street Journal. Three framed pieces beside their mantle are a small sampling of the many tiles that make up the “Tree of Life” in Rockville, Comport’s largest installation to date.
On the other side of the mantle, a self-winding clock used in a train-station in the 1930’s is surrounded by a handmade silver angel from an artist friend in Ohio, a Lerraine Genovar image of a gargoyle, and a metronome from Sally’s childhood piano playing days. Just below that is a doll that is 100% handmade with impeccable craftsmanship by Chris Chomick.
The Comport’s kitchen features handmade pottery, including an illustrated platter by Allan’s colleague Whitney Sherman from her Pbody Design collection, a chicken sculpture from Night Cat Studios artist Kelly Young. They’ve collected several pieces from the art studios of Providence Center, a local non-profit serving adults with intellectual disabilities, including handmade pottery and a collaborative wall mural on paper. This piece inspired Sally when developing the concept for the Light House Healing Garden with ArtWalk.
Allan’s office houses some of his favorite pieces of Sally’s, including Harriet Tubman and the Edmund Pettus Bridge from the book Dream March. She is in good company with the legendary Ben Shahn– a great find by Back Creek Books– and local watercolor master Rob Wood, who is currently showing at West Annapolis Artworks. Allan collects work from his student artists as well, like this dreamy watercolor by Sarah Webb.
Their daughter Taylor’s room is full of funky art and vibrant colors. A whimsical cityscape by Robert Newbecker accompanies some art fair sculpture finds. Further down the wall a folksy textile piece hangs beside a stylized cat by Joyce Hesselberth, a MICA professor and co-owner of Spur Design Studios. Below is a hot pink shelf collecting small figurines and photos, as well as an original watercolor of the constellation Orion by, yours truly. Another bedroom nook highlights an arrangement of family heirlooms and the original art of Sally’s is Anne Catherine Green, an ArtWalk public art piece that you can see on the Severn Bank Building on Westgate Circle.
The Art Lounge
Down a stairwell you find the ultimate “art lounge”, a hangout pad with pop-culture memorabilia, an impressive book collection, and of course, more super cool art. There’s not much wall space that isn’t occupied by bold graphics and vibrant colors from artists such as Razzia, James Rosenquist, Regan Dunnick, and Charles S. Anderson Design co. A cigar-version spoof on Magritte’s “This is not a pipe” by Woody Pirtle is pasted above a wall of pages from Andy Warhol’s publication The Manipulator.
Allan points out my second piece of art in the collection, surrounded by their artistic heroes, Sally’s father George Wern and visual journalist Warren Linn. Warren is never found without a sketchbook and uses these drawings as source materials for his fine art, for which the Comports own several pieces. A few neon pieces from Allan’s former student Nick Iluzada are displayed amongst photographs by Aubrey Bodine and Doug Johns, as well as a screen-printed Lil Wayne MICA Art Market find.
What does your art collection look like? We want to see!
Tag @artsannapolis to share how you support local and independent artists and follow the hashtag #artistscollectart
To learn more about the artists mentioned above click here.
Images courtesy of Lindsay Bolin Lowery