Magnificent Obsession | Charles and Jeanette White

Charles and Jeanette White

Barrington, IL


Charles and Jeanette White

What kind of artwork do you collect? Contemporary southwestern. We collect living artists, though a couple of them have since died. When we say contemporary, we mean from about 1960 to present. We probably have 30 pieces by John Nieto. Dan Namingha, Inger Jirby, and Teruko Wilde are also favorites.

How would you describe your approach to collecting? Our collection was rather random for the first 20 years or so. When we got caught up with the museum, we started to be more focused on Southwestern art. [My husband and I are currently cataloging our collection, which is being bequeathed to the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences in Peoria, IL.]

How many pieces have you acquired over the years? Somewhere between 300 and 330. Most of it is paintings, some is sculpture, some Maria Martinez pottery, and some Jewelry.

How long have you been collecting? Since 1979. We had looked at art long before then. My mother was an art major in college. On all the trips we took around the country, we visited art galleries and museums.

How did you get started? We found out about Southwest Art magazine early on; also just by visiting galleries and museums out in Taos and Santa Fe. We just love Taos. We were going skiing at Taos every year, and one year we went down into the town of Taos. Pretty soon we were skiing less and spending more and more time in town visiting the galleries.

What was the first piece you purchased? WORD WEAVER by Frank Howell. It’s all black and white.

What’s on your wish list for the future? Walt Gonske, more Nieto and Namingha, Poteet Victory, John Axton, Tony Abeyta. Frank Howell is no longer living, but we’ll always like his stuff. R.C. Gorman; everyone likes his stuff, and so do we! And it’s always fun to discover new artists.

Is there a piece that got away? John Nieto did a very large painting of a bear. We saw it at Ventana Fine Art in Santa Fe one day. It was expensive for our standard, so we decided we needed to think this thing over. We left and went to dinner, and we decided we were going to buy it. We went back, and it had sold 15 minutes earlier. It turned out OK in the end; John Nieto painted another bear for Jeanette, and she gets to see it every morning. It’s in the bedroom.

Why do you collect? We never thought we were “collecting.” We just fell in love with pieces of art, and we bought them as we could afford them.