Things we love
september 9 - october 15, 2005

Press: Big Red and Shiny, by Heidi Marston

gallery hours: tues - sat 11am - 5:30pm



click on image for larger view


Clifford • Smith Gallery is pleased to announce its September 2005 exhibition Things We Love.

things we love : selections from the collection of Jim Smith and Rob Clifford
September, 2005

We’re poking fun a little here. But mostly not. If you get the reference, good. If not, it’s not worth researching it. It’s not that funny.

These are the things we love, the things we live with, plucked off the walls from home.

It’s a selection of what we collect. We often say that at heart we’re collectors. That if we had lots of money we’d have one of the biggest, and best collections in Boston. But since that’s not our lot in life, we opened a gallery. We look around a lot, and at the gallery we get to live with some of what we think is the best art being made, for a month at a time, and sometimes we get to take something home.

And that’s our way of building our collection, and perhaps it means that the art means more to us than if we did have scads of money and could just get whatever we wanted when we wanted it. Kathleen Bitetti of The Artists Foundation writes a really great series, FYI – Notes To Artists for artsMEDIA, and part two of Tips for First Time Collectors happens to be in the current issue. Pick it up. As usual, well-written and useful. It reflects what we, Jim and Rob do as collectors, and lists many of the places and ways we purchase art… other galleries, particularly the great ones in our own neighborhood, sales at the art schools, the many open studios events in neighborhoods around this city and state.
And then we get gifts. Gotta confess… that’s the best way. Gifts rule.

One of the things we knew going into this was that we were going to work with people who we respected and whose talent we admired, and like it is in all of our other jobs and passions in life, that we would most likely grow to be friends with these people. And that has happened, and it’s been great.

Also, when we opened, one of the many things we didn’t know about the gallery business is that one of the side-benefits of working with artists is that sometimes they just give you something. They say “Here, I want you to have this.” And we’re like, “Okay, don’t have to ask me twice!” Or after a studio visit, or for a holiday or special occasion, they’ll send us a little something that fits in an envelope. For free!!

And kind of like the fact that the art we manage to buy means more to us than if we could buy it without a second thought – these gifts mean even more to us. Something from the heart, from the hand, and beautiful to look at and live with… what could be better. There’s a selection of these gifts throughout this exhibition, and particularly on the salon style wall of small pieces.

You can get gifts too. You don’t have to open a gallery. Start running around galleries and open studios events with your friends. Drop hints. Talk about how much you love this artist’s work. Point out how affordable their works on paper are. And then act surprised when your friend gives you a beautifully wrapped 2-D or 3-D package which contains – oh my goodness – art! Or, you know how people register now for every momentous event in their life, and point you toward their registry? Turn the tables. Register for yours. Every birthday – heck, half birthday – and put a list up on your blog of what art you’re craving, by what artist, where they can find it. Make it easy for them. And educate them along the way.
Okay, enough about the gifts. Go look around.

on the door:

Cary Liebowitz / Candyass, Open, Closed, 1999
Cary… he’s a trip. Give him a hardware store sign, a sharpie and your first names and voila… art. Cary’s done a bunch of things for us. This one was when he came to Boston for the exhibition Accummulated Crap for Collectors – Multiples 1989 to 2003.

from the title wall, clockwise:

Amanda Trager, Untitled, 1996

Amanda opened up her portfolio of works on paper and said “pick something.” We both picked this one out of probably thirty pieces. We agree 98% of the time on what art gives us a kick, often down to the exact piece within a series or body of work. The other 2% of the time we defer. If one of us is ambivalent we pass. Until Rob convinces Jim of his opinion.

Kathleen O’Hara, Untitled, 2001
Kathleen’s work was included in the Winter White / Back In Black show here at Clifford-Smith. She gave us this piece when we bought our place down the street. We love it. We love Kathleen. Kathleen is one of the people behind O•H+T gallery. Caroline is the other. Caroline is also a really good painter and she’s going to give us something as well. She’s working on it. And even if it never happens we love Caroline too.

Eric Yesline, Untitled
We got this from Gallery Katz. The artist and Drew gave us a very good deal. To good probably. We like them.

Christopher Broughton, Untitled, 2004
Chris made this for Jim on the occasion of his 40th birthday. Rob, being only 28 years old, thought that was really great.

Anton Vidokle, Untitled, 1999
A couple of years ago we couldn’t attend the New Group fundraising event at the ICA, but we bid on these pieces online in their silent auction – and got ‘em! This artist was part of a great show, Made in Mexico, that year at the ICA curated by Gilbert Vicario.

Jeff Konigsberg, two Untitled prints, 1998

Jeff’s artwork is the kind where you can really see the hand of the artist in the work. And often the paws of his cat. Jeff is an amazing artist, a grade school teacher, and a sweet guy who uses his sweetness and the fact that he teaches kids to pick up girls. He also had a space in the World Trade Center WorldViews Studio Program in 2001. He lost a friend, and a bunch of artwork he was working on, but he wasn’t there that morning thank God.

Chris Teasley, Untitled, 2003
We showed Chris’ work when he was still in the undergraduate program at the SMFA. When Chris and the lovely Mrs. Teasley left town to return to Kansas City, Missouri, they left us this painting, along with a cd of songs Chris did, accompanying himself on ukulele. Sweetest music you ever did hear. Seriously.

James Hull, Untitled Painting, 2000
James had a show – paired up with the equally as talented Douglas Weathersby – in the fall of 2000 and we were able to pick up this piece. Conceptually has to do with mapping the geographic circles of art activity in Boston. Ask James. And while you’re at it, ask him why we don’t get to see more of his art.

Cornelia van den Broeke, Untitled
Cornelia and Bradley Rubenstein constituted our second show here back in 1998. When all was said and done Cornelia gave us this piece. We love the tension between the rigid geometric form and the fragility of the media.
on the small back wall:

Penn Young, One Color Painting, Red #13, 2001 and One Color Painting, Grey 33, 2001
Following the first exhibition we did with Penn in November 2001, Penn laid out a bunch of new pieces he had just finished and told us each to pick one. Jim picked the lyrical, Zen-like black and white one. Rob picked the angry, moody red one. What does that say about each of us? Penn is also a writer and he wrote a meaningful thing on the back of each one of these that you’re not allowed to see.

Bradley Rubenstein, Untitled, 1995
Okay. This is all Bradley’s fault. Seriously. It was over a beer in Brooklyn in 1997 that Bradley twisted our words from “yeah, we love looking at art” to “yeah, we’ll open a gallery.” He’s evil. Stay away from him.

Bradley Rubenstein, Untitled, 1997
Forget what we just said. We love Bradley. And he’s too manly for this metaphor, but he is indeed our muse. And it really is Bradley who convinced us, when we said we don’t have any experience in the gallery business, that that may be exactly why we should do it.
on the long wall:

Bradley Rubenstein, Untitled (four drawings), 1991

Picked up another piece of Bradley’s at ARTcetera 2002. Beautifully framed by Stanhope Framers who donate scads of frames every two years to ARTcetera, in addition to their other generous support. They’re first class.

Henry Horenstein, Lucy, 2002
Henry came in to see us, a little snot-nosed kid, just after he bought his first instamatic camera. We told him not to quit his day job, and the rest is history. Many manuals, books, monographs and collections later, Henry has finally made something of himself. Na… just kidding. We have had the good fortune of working with Henry as a couple of projects were completed over the last few years. Coinciding with the publication of Canine, we did an exhibition here and Henry took a few rolls of film of our dog, Lucy, so that we could have an image to put on an invitation for a fundraiser she (Lucy) chaired here at the gallery. This shot was among the many great ones. Scratch Henry behind the ears when you see him. He likes that.

David Kelley, Various pieces, 2001 – 2004
When we did decide to take the plunge, Bradley’s first advice was “go see David Kelley, and his work.” We did. Bradley was right. Not only is and has David’s work been consistent – it’s also changed and varied, and always with a balance of smarts, art historical reference, and humor. David is an artist with little ego too. Whenever we talked about working together, he always said “great, I want to show with so-and-so”. One of the best ways to find artists to work with is through the artists we currently work with. They know best who would make sense, what work would fit into the program here.

Heather Hobler-Keene, Untitled
Here’s one we purchased from the Boston Drawing Project downstairs at Bernie’s, which like Kathy says in artsMEDIA, “is comprised of unframed works on paper by many artists.”

Neil Farber, Untitled drawings, 1998
As we’ve trekked around New York looking at art, one space we found we had an affinity with was––and is––Clementine Gallery, and Neil Farber and the artists of Royal Art Lodge are among some of our favorites – and it turns out most affordable.

Amanda Church, Inseparable, 1998

We love Amanda. And what’s nice is she loves us and is one of our biggest advocates. At some point amidst our many visits and overnight stays at her New York studio and the many appearances of her work at our gallery, Amanda said “I want you guys to have that one.” See! We weren’t lying before when we said artists do that.

on the other side of the doors:

Steve DeFrank, George and Martha

Another Clementine Gallery overlap. Steve also does amazing “paintings” with Lite Brite pegs. He gets the clear ones directly from Hasbro and dyes them getting the exact palette he wants. And he’s really funny. All the artists we work with have a sense of humor. Seems to be #2 on the list for us, right after “artistic vision”.

Larry Krone, I’ve Been Cheated

Larry was our first show at the gallery. Hand-stitched neckties, the lyrics to Margueritaville done in his own hair, and a live performance of his favorite Dolly Parton songs, sitting on a haystack playing the ukulele. At the opening reception, our friend Phyllis offered to help clean up, and as she made her rounds picked up the glass to go wash it for us.

Carolyn Smith, A Pretty Autumn Day, 2004
Okay, get your tissue ready and read that note from Jim’s Mom. How sweet is that?!? We love this painting.


salon style wall:
These are the small pieces with a lot of heart that people have sent us, or that we picked up at fundraisers or open studios events. The artists: Josh Aster, Karen Giusti, Catlin Rockman, Neil Farber, Nuno de Campos, Ben Ezra Beaudoin, Tyson Schroeder, Henry Samelson, Alejandro Solis, Josh Silverman, Mark Verabioff, Karen Kimmel, Naoe Suzuki, Heather Hobler-Keene, Amy Ross, Thomas Lail, Henry Horenstein, Rachel Perry Welty, Kathleen Bitetti, Susan Schwalb, David Deal, Mimi Moncier, Lacey Prpic-Hedtke, and Linda Price-Sneddon (on the desk).

on the desk:

Nao Tomii, Plump, 2004
Introduced to us by Barbara O’Brien, Nao’s work has made many appearances at Clifford-Smith. His work was included in the most recent DeCordova Annual, and he got married this summer to his girlfriend Chiaki.

Wayne Viens
This tied up baby doll is the first piece we ever purchased together. Wayne’s studio was one of the studios at the Revolving Museum when it was at Fort Point, before it moved to Lowell. Points lost for Boston when they let the Revolving Museum and Jerry Beck get away. Gotta go see Jerry’s work at Charlestown Navy Yard.

Jeff Warmouth
We were able to pick up these cans at the Museum School Sale one year. In case it’s not blatantly obvious, we love artists and art with a sense of humor. Plus, if we ever have to hang out in the bomb shelter for a few days, we’ve got food.

Larimer Richards, Untitled
Larimer’s been coming in since we opened. Good guy. Good artist. One of those people we were delighted to meet through Bernie. Jim loved these light bulb pieces down at Bernard Toale Gallery. So Rob got him one for Christmas. Now we could write a chapter here about Bernie… When we decided to do the gallery thing, we thought we should take somebody out to lunch, somebody who does the gallery thing well, and pick their brain. We couldn’t find anybody so we settled for Bernie. We had known of Bernie, and even met Bernie around the ARTcetera fundraisers through the years, but we didn’t really know Bernie. What a stroke of luck and genius on our part. Turns out Bernie was looking at this very same building to move his Newbury Street gallery to, and that it would be the same month we would open our doors for the first time here. And that’s just the beginning. Bernie shared everything with us. Everything. He sent everybody that walked into his first floor space up to see us, loners at the time up here on the third floor. He shared his database of knowledge and people with us. He dragged us to every art opening and event in town and introduced us. We even lived in Bernie and his partner Joe’s house for a spell. Four gay guys, three dogs, a constantly changing number of cats, and a large spider. Fun, fun, fun. If you’ve never had dinner at Bernie and Joe’s, you gotta. Just show up there some night.

THINGS I LOVE : selections from the collection of Theodore J. Schwalb

Lifelong art teacher at Stoneham High School, one of the top public schools in Stoneham, MA, Theodore J. Schwalb is an international bon vivant, Boston socialite, trained at the Massachusetts College of Art, world-class raconteur, and devoted brother to artist Brenda Starr. A benefactor of many Boston area cultural institutions and described by The New York Times Sunday Magazine editor, Alex Starr as "uncle Teddy", Schwalb is also a passionate collector who sometimes just can't help spending more on art than he really should.

Who are we kidding. This is stuff Teddy bought from Clifford-Smith. He’s a wonderful person, with a keen eye, and has been one or our biggest cheer leaders. You should see Ted’s place. Chock full of art. From his youth, things he made, beautiful pieces his sister Brenda Star has created, things his students and his friends made, and pieces he’s acquired over the last few decades. A true collection, the kind that would inspire anybody to start one.

Here are a few of the many works Ted has. They’re by artists we work with here at Clifford-Smith.


Richard Stipl, from the Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart series, 2002

Bradley Rubenstein, Untitled, 1994

Jenny Dubnau, Brian, 2000Nuno de Campos, Lap, 1999

Nao Tomii, From the installation, Gossipers, 2004

Chris Teasley, Unecliptic, 2002

Scott Katano, Poppornoculturestar

For more information please e-mail the gallery or call 617.695.0255 


Left to Right:

Larry Krone, I’ve Been Cheated
Larry was our first show at the gallery. Hand-stitched neckties, the lyrics to Margueritaville done in his own hair, and a live performance of his favorite Dolly Parton songs, sitting on a haystack playing the ukulele. At the opening reception, our friend Phyllis offered to help clean up, and as she made her rounds picked up the glass to go wash it for us.

Carolyn Smith, A Pretty Autumn Day, 2004
Okay, get your tissue ready and read that note from Jim’s Mom. How sweet is that?!? We love this painting.