Connect + Collect Series 1: Schwanda Rountree and Mequitta Ahuja with Photo Essay by Jill Fannon
“How many of you are art collectors?” asked co-host Jeffrey Kent at the first of six Connect + Collect lectures featuring artists and collectors in conversation. “For some reason, individuals don’t like that name, art collector, and we want to help change that… What if being an art collector meant you’re an advocate for artists? What if being an art collector means you help the community that you live in? We want to build a community of art patrons to support the artists that they live with.” Kent, an artist and former director of the Subbasement Artist Studios, went on to describe the potential for Baltimore to a sold-out crowd – first as a place to purchase work from the next big talent, like Amy Sherald, an artist he worked with early on at the Subbasement, and second as a community where individuals come together to invest in the success of a place.
Connect + Collect is a new initiative brought to you by BmoreArt Founding Editor Cara Ober and Jeffrey Kent, designed to create awareness and momentum among new and experienced art collectors, and to promote a culture of collecting in Baltimore.
Jeffrey Kent, Mequitta Ahuja, Cara Ober, and Schwanda Rountree
Our first panel on January 24 was hosted at Motor House with art collector, art consultant, and DC-based lawyer Schwanda Rountree and Baltimore-based artist Mequitta Ahuja, a Guggenheim recipient whose work is in Rountree’s collection. Moderated by Ober, the artist and collector discussed a range of strategies for beginning a collection from how to conduct research, studio visits, payment plans, and the need for cultural ownership and preservation. They talked about how their relationship evolved organically over the course of a decade, touched on the primary and secondary art markets, and engaged in a radically transparent conversation about topics not normally discussed in public.
Our audience included new and established collectors from Baltimore and DC, museum professionals, curators, gallerists, academic professionals and professors, and artists. A reception in The Showroom followed and each ticket included a cocktail at the bar.
The next Connect + Collect panel will be hosted on Thursday, February 28 at 6:30 pm at Motor House and tickets are now available.
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Attorney and Art Consultant Schwanda Rountree places contemporary art in museums and private collections, domestically and internationally. She currently serves as Consultant for the Joan Mitchell Foundation. She has also served as Advisory Board Member of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Advisory Panel Member of CulturalDC, Executive Board Member of the Porter Colloquium on African American Art, member of ArtTable, and Advisory Board Member for the 30 Americans exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Schwanda has curated several art exhibitions including ones during Miami Art Basel and the DC Jazz Festival. She has spoken on art panels at institutions and galleries, such as the Corcoran, the Phillips Collection, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Rush Arts Gallery in New York. She has served as Contributing Writer for the International Review on African American Art.
Website: www.rountreeart.com / Instagram/Twitter handles: Rountreeart
Baltimore-based painter Mequitta Ahuja turns the artist’s self-portrait, especially the woman-of-color’s self-portrait, which has long been defined by identity, into a discourse on picture-making. Of South Asian and African American descent, the artist positions herself boldly within her compositions, but makes the turn away from subjectivity by focusing on painting as a received form. She visually catalogs painting conventions, established over centuries while using those conventions to make new meanings. Ahuja is the recipient of the 2018 Guggenheim fellowship award. She studied at Hampshire College (BA,1998) and the University of Illinois (MFA,2003). Ahuja’s works have been widely exhibited in institutions and galleries including Brooklyn Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, Saatchi Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Crystal Bridges, Baltimore Museum of Art and Grand Rapids Art Museum.
Website: www.mequittaahuja.com / Instagram handle: mequittaahuja