"Murray Quinn with some work from his collection"
Murray Quinn with some work from his collection. From left to right: Roy Arden, "The End (1-4)," 2010, oil on linen, each 18” x 21.5”. Harold Klunder, "Sleep or Chaos," 1988-2006, oil on linen, 84” x 48”. Neil Campbell, "Fungus Man," 2010, acrylic on wood panel, 16” x 16”.
By Maureen Latta
When visitors arrive at Murray Quinn’s home in Grand Prairie, the first thing they see is Icarus, a large-scale sculpture of a boat by Alberta artist Peter von Tiesenhausen. Woven from heavy-gauge aluminum cable, it sits in the courtyard, an introduction to Quinn’s vast collection of contemporary art.
Quinn says he and his wife, Christine, are “regular working folk” with a passion for art. He owns a small landscape contracting company, and every day he looks at art, reads about it, and corresponds with artists and galleries. Quinn’s parents exposed him to art early in life. They helped found the local college, collected regional art and invited art instructors for Sunday dinner.
Quinn began collecting in 1991 and owns work by Canadian artists such as Evan Penny, Suzy Lake, Harold Klunder, Roy Arden, Chris Cran and Brian Jungen, as well as international artists such as South African photographer Roger Ballen and Dutch artist Marcel van Eeden.
Quinn aims to collect the best of the best. “It’s not necessarily a pretty collection,” he says. “There’s some grittiness to it. There’s some unsettling imagery in it. But it’s all really powerful work.” Toronto photographer Jack Burman’s images of archaic anatomical specimens are among Quinn’s favourite pieces.
A member of a panel about collecting at the Toronto International Art Fair in 2011, Quinn believes collectors should heed their visceral responses. Art fairs are good for networking, he cautions, but are not the best place to make buying decisions.
“Before you jump in, you really need to do your homework,” he says. “Define what it is you react to when you look at art and start to focus.” He recommends using the Internet as it allows connections with galleries around the world.
Other advice? Find dealers you trust, don’t expect to make money, and cultivate friendships with artists and other collectors. “Artists are really interesting people,” he says. “They’ve all got a story to tell.”