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We love hearing from our customers and the unique stories they have to tell. This month, we sat down with one of our collectors, Bill Strickland, Editorial Director at Hearst Enthusiast Group, for a conversation about his collection and what art means to him.
Mio (Curina, Founder & CEO): Thank you so much for taking the time today. And thank you for purchasing works from Curina! Are they up in your home right now?
Bill: They are! I actually put them up, I think the day I got both! It is a great program. It was a way to get some pieces of art that really spoke to me and sort of fit the way I try to live my life. And then, also helping people during a time when many of us are looking for ways to help out.
Mio: It is my understanding that you found out about Curina through [artist] Joseph O’Neal, is that correct?
Bill: Yeah, his Instagram. I think he showed some of the pieces and in the caption pointed people to Curina. Once I started going through the site, first, I thought the curation was really good. I thought you had a really good mix of artists. And then, I just thought the mission was great.
Mio: How did you know Joseph O’Neal in the beginning?
Bill: We both live in Easton, Pennsylvania, which is a cool little town right on the Delaware River. I got to know them through some showings and just started talking to Joseph. I really loved that he talks a lot about exploring, trying to create in the seam between written words and visual impulses. So, I just started following him. We even had a barbeque at his house!
Mio: Do you often go to exhibitions?
Bill: I do. Easton is like the equivalent of Brooklyn in New York. It’s a cool, tiny little town with a really good art culture and an outdoors culture and really good restaurants and drinks culture. There’s two or three galleries that I go to frequently.
Brick + Mortar is, I think, a really, really good one, and that’s where I met Joseph. There’s also an arts trail here, called the Karl Stimer arts trail, which is about a two mile trail that has sculptures and other works. It’s just a really cool, artistic community here. I’m part of the Easton Murals Project.
Mio: Interesting! I didn’t know Easton was such an artistic town! What is the Easton Murals Project?
Bill: The Easton Murals Project was started by a local artists and gallery owner. We first find walls where we think there should be murals – there’s a stenciled logo that we’ll put on the wall saying there should be a mural here. Then, we try to match artists with walls. It’s really just to bring art into public spaces in a way that surprises people and then after, it’s there just to sort of delight them. It’s sort of like an old friend, like, I’m just going to drop by and see that mural.
Easton Murals Project
Mio: Was collecting art something you consciously started doing a while back, or did you start recently?
Bill: I’m a writer and editor and have been really interested in art from a young age. But, I grew up in Indiana, and it was just not cool to be artistic where I grew up, when I grew up. I was always aware of it, but was uneducated in art. Which is ok, right, because I just liked what I liked.
I moved out of Indiana, moved to Cincinnati, and then here to work in New York where you have so much exposure to art. In addition to that I am a cyclist, so there are people who ride bikes in all walks of life, including artists and curators.
My daughter went to art school as a ceramics major. I would go to galleries with her and she would start to give me context about things. But not too much, like just enough that I could still enjoy it. She would say, “art school will ruin you, don’t ever, don’t ever learn too much.” So I have taken her cues on how this influenced that or this is the connection. That’s what I love: making the connections rather than deep dives.
It took me awhile to figure out what I really like, which is art that bridges the gap between text and visuals, and uses both. And I think both the pieces I bought from you are textual pieces. I really enjoy that.
“Try Not to Worry,” by Chazz Hampton, the owner of the Brick and Mortar Gallery
Mio: You know, artworks are usually very expensive. Was that intimidating to you at first? Was there something that pushed you beyond that intimidation to make a purchase?
Bill: I did buy a lot of $20 and $50 pieces, little things that I liked. But I – this is like a weird piece of advice – but, I would say, I also ended up getting rid of a lot of that because, as I bought more, I sort of figured out what I really loved and what really moved me.
I was like okay, well I’m just gonna commit to this in a crazy way and that decision was on my Keith Haring piece. Keith Haring spent some time in Pennsylvania, where there were walls of houses he had been in where he sort of scrawled things. He had done a great logo for a bike shop called Broadway Cycles in New York, it’s one of my favorite depictions of the interaction between person and bike. These stories I loved really got me into Keith Haring.
Just as that was happening,
I sold my first book. I didn’t get much money, I got $10,000, which you know, is a lot, but I was not gonna retire or quit my other jobs. But, I remember making this decision: I’m going to take all the money and buy a Haring. And so that’s what I did!
It was really scary. I remember thinking, this might not be a real one, I bet I’m getting ripped off. I told some of my friends and family what I was doing, and they just absolutely thought I was crazy. But I did it. I never paid that much for another piece. It was a commitment that I thought was important to do. I was like, this matters to me, art really matters to me.
Undram: Why do you think art is so important for you and for your life?
Bill: Wow, that’s a really good question! Um, it’s just, it’s that expression of what we’re doing here. When I was talking to Joseph [O’Neal] this weekend, we were just talking about this idea that no one cares if you stop making art or if you stop writing or if you stop playing music, no one cares. I think that’s what makes it great, that people create, because there is no reason. There’s no compelling call to create except our own. It says something that I can’t define or explain about who we are as a species.
Undram: I noticed that you are also connected to art in some other ways like music, or even cycling. How do you think that part of your life relates to your interest in art?
Bill: I like to tell people that for me cycling can be expressive. You have a chance to create an experience with my friends that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. There’s been this really cool thing in cycling in the past decade where everything from socks, to jerseys, to painting bikes has become much, much more individualized and personalized.
Mio: I would love to see a sneak peek of the artworks installed.
Bill: Here is the one I just bought, it’s the Ford Crull. I have it right by my doorway. I just like to look at it whenever I let someone in or go out. I like how it just sits there … I like that it’s a smaller piece and it just sits there on the wall all on its own.
The Joseph O’Neal one is actually in my bedroom, and so I stand there and I just like to look at that. I look at it every day. You know, when I’m getting my socks out, I look at this. I try to put the art in places that I can interact with it.
Undram: Thank you so much for your time today. We’re really, super excited that you’re supporting us!