1 of 3
"Calgary collectors Dell and Lauren Pohlman pose with Kelly Mark’s 2007 piece, "The Kiss"."
Calgary collectors Dell and Lauren Pohlman pose with Kelly Mark’s 2007 piece, The Kiss, a two-channel DVD sculpture.
2 of 3
"The Pohlmans with Garry Neill Kennedy's "Futures: 16 Calgary Oil Companies" from 1999."
The Pohlmans with Garry Neill Kennedy's "Futures: 16 Calgary Oil Companies" from 1999.
3 of 3
"The Pohlmans with Gerald Ferguson's "1/4 Mile of Clothesline" from 2001."
The Pohlmans with Gerald Ferguson's "1/4 Mile of Clothesline" from 2001.
COLLECTOR PROFILE : Dell and Lauren Pohlman
By Maureen Latta
Many of Dell and Lauren Pohlman’s favourite artists are known for obsessive approaches to art making. For example, the Calgary couple owns Toronto artist Ken Nicol’s 1000 Bugs, which consists of 1,000 insects collected by the artist and placed in a three-inch glass vial. “I suppose an obsession, especially an obsession that takes a lot of time, is a way of marking time,” muses Dell.
Maybe the Pohlmans see their own engagement with collecting reflected in these artists. After 30 years, their steady commitment has resulted in a varied collection of 125 pieces that are displayed in their home and at the oil company where Dell works as exploration manager.
As university students in the early 1980s, the Pohlmans bought one small piece each year. Their first purchase was a piece by aboriginal artist Alex Janvier. They now average three or four acquisitions annually. It wasn’t until five years ago that they accepted that they even had a collection.
“ We went at it not with the idea of building a collection – I’m not sure anyone sets out to build a collection – we were just buying things we liked,” Dell says.
Cautious in the beginning, the Pohlmans stepped out of their comfort zone, discovering a love of contemporary conceptual art, particularly the work of artists associated with the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University in Halifax. “We essentially pushed ourselves to broaden our horizons. The work we’re acquiring now, we wouldn’t have even looked at 30 years ago.”
The Pohlmans have multiple works by Garry Neill Kennedy, Gerald Ferguson, Kelly Mark and Micah Lexier. Liz Magor and Chris Cran are also favourites. Displaying conceptual work can be tricky. Dell stores spare cathode-ray TV sets in the basement in case Mark’s two-channel DVD sculpture, The Kiss, breaks down.
The largest piece is the 10-foot long Touch Down Drawing, a steel sculpture based on a small pencil scribble that Winnipeg artist Micah Lexier made during a 2004 plane landing to mark a specific moment in time and space.
“ Art is a language,” says Dell. “The more of it you see, the more you appreciate what the artists are doing, how they see the world, and how they’re communicating their ideas.”