THE ART OF COLLECTING

by HELEN HILL photograph by HOLGER OBENAUS

Whether one is looking for a tranquil escape, endless inspiration or a reflection of one’s personal journey, art has the power to help transform one’s house into a home. Laura Rathe Fine Art (LRFA), recognized as a leading source for contemporary art in Texas, is the go-to guide for transforming bare backdrops into compelling centerpieces.

“We don’t just sell art off our wall,” says Laura Rathe, owner of galleries in Houston and Dallas. “We build very personal relationships with new and established collectors who want artwork they will love every day and can appreciate for years to come.”


Hunt Slonem, Molucans Today, Oil on canvas, 40″ x 60″

 

Collecting art starts with Rathe getting to know her clients at in-home consultations (she had spent three hours at a client’s house right before we spoke) before recommending a plan for selecting art that will add impactful and meaningful significance to their collection. “I discover what’s really important to them, what they have in mind, what they’re expecting and what also makes investment sense,” she explains. “Motivated collectors appreciate art that moves them in a way that brings happiness.”

Rathe summarizes her role as art advisor and consultant, saying: “People want art they will love every day. I see collecting art as something you don’t put in the vault but put in your life.”


Hunt Slonem, Double Bunny, Oil on wood, 12″ x 15″

 

She also feels the importance of giving back to the community. For the past six years, LRFA has helped raise close to $200,000 and counting for the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, a significant charity that helps abused children and families in the DFW area. Rathe is also a major supporter of The Houston Children’s Fund and Camp for All, along with other charities in Texas focused on underprivileged children.

Rathe first held art events in her Houston home and then expanded into a private art space and warehouse for her collection. In 1998, she established Laura Rathe Fine Art in Houston, and opened her first brick-and-mortar on Colquitt Street, Houston’s gallery row.

In 2012, she was inspired by the rapid growth of the art world in Dallas and decided to open her second location on Dragon Street, and it quickly became the leading art source for Dallas collectors. In 2016, Rathe expanded her Houston gallery by opening a third location on Post Oak Boulevard.


Hunt Slonem, Bayou La Fouche, Oil on canvas, 72″ x 60″

 

Rathe says that her focus is primarily on contemporary artists who create work that evokes an emotional response. Asked what sets her apart from other art galleries, Rathe emphasizes that her contemporary art venues represent exciting, professional artists in a broad price range. “People walk into our galleries to see quality art with beautiful, rich colors; they are creations to connect with,” she says.

Clients select art from LRFA’s diverse range of emerging and established artists, including sculptors and mixed-media artists from around the world. Many have their work featured in significant private, corporate and museum collections. Among the artists featured in LRFA’s roster are Zhuang Hong Yi, Stallman Studio, Gary Komarin, James Verbicky, Meredith Pardue, Paul Rousso, Gil Bruvel, Lucrecia Waggoner and Matt Devine.

Collectors also can meet artists in person at the numerous exhibitions throughout the year hosted at LRFA galleries. Currently, both the Dallas and Houston galleries are preparing for their Texas Tour with blue-chip artist Hunt Slonem. Known for his paintings of bunnies, birds and butterflies, Wonderland will highlight the essence of Slonem’s work and feature his new and bold paintings of Southern waterscapes.


Zhuang Hong Yi, Untitled (Bonbons), Mixed media on rice paper, 6″ x 6″

 

Rathe was first drawn to Slonem’s work because of its playful and vibrant qualities, and after a visit to his Manhattan studio, she felt it would be the perfect addition to her gallery programming and help elevate her clients’ collections.

Wonderland opens at LRFA Dallas on Saturday, September 7, with the opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. A highlight of the evening will be a conversation with Hunt Slonem and Laura Rathe at 6:45 p.m. For more information, please call 214.761.2000. *

Helen Hill has lived in South Florida since moving from her native England two decades ago. When not writing for varied publications about her favorite lifestyle topics of design, architecture and real estate, she likes exploring local antiques and thrift shops looking for fun collectibles and inspiration.