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The hidden gallery

Staff Reports

There are no signs, no indexes, and no placards beside any of the works of art. The pieces on display in the multi-floor Logan Gallery lack the small identifying markers that accompany pictures or sculptures in a museum or public gallery. And yet Kent Logan names, describes, and discusses each piece in detail and without hesitation. Both the depth and breadth of his comments are impressive, especially given that this knowledge is the result of 13 years of sheer self-education.The gallery itself is, in some ways, as impressive as Logan’s knowledge. An entirely separate structure next to Kent and Vicki Logan’s Vail home, it was designed to house portions of their modern art collection, now numbering about 900 pieces in total. Its high-tech security system, control-pad lighting, and modern design demand that the art, and the collector, be taken seriously.High seriousness may be difficult for some, with the overt sexuality of much of the art. Surrealist paintings of naked women in combat boots, life-sized sculptures of (sometimes naked) Japanese anime, distorted wheelchairs, and other, oftentimes edgy, art is visible on all levels of the gallery. “We [Vicki and myself], always promised ourselves that we would buy art that we likeand we are still fairly faithful to that axiom,” Logan says, sitting just four yards away from a painting of the Sing-Sing electric chair.Wait he likes this art?Yes. In fact, Logan never assumes that his purchases will have a resale value, forcing him to choose only what he wants to live with for the rest of his life. “When you collect contemporary art,” Logan says, “you are doing it as an avant garde and with the absolute knowledge that in 10 or 20 years, two-thirds of this art will not be important.”In a world where modern art is often initially derided, and in a valley where western-inspired pieces dominate the art scene, Logan’s collection is difficult to comprehend. Along with other modern-art patrons, Logan points out that all art was, at one time, contemporary, and subsequently criticized. While he freely admits that much of his collection will not be worth showing in a few decades, he believes that his collection reflects many of the issues of the period and of the artist. Even the pieces destined for obscurity contextualize the art that will stand the test of time.The Logans not only know the back-story of the pieces in their collection, but they also have personally met many of the artists they collect. The collection is more about chronicling the depth of a few artists than surveying many. “If [the art] doesn’t come from personal experienceif an artist can’t articulate why he or she chose that imagery or that pallet, I lose confidence that he or she will be able to go on [as an artist],” Logan says.Logan owns more than just the pieces hanging on his walls or in storage in Denver (“storage bills eat me alive,” he says); he owns the world of art he created for himself. His knowledge of the artist and pieces put him in a position of authority when faced with negative reactions to the works, his gallery commands respect for the dedication and time he has spent on his collection, and his contributions to museums in Denver and San Francisco make him a valued figure in the art world. Kent Logan knows too much about his collection how it defines him, his thoughts, and his life to need any signs on the wall. VT By Ursula Gross


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