Orrin and Karen Gabsch
La Jolla, CA
What kind of artwork do you collect? Our artwork is rather eclectic. We are fond of many genres of western and Indian art. Our paintings range from cowboys and Indians to landscapes, wildlifes, and still lifes. We also collect bronzes, Native American pottery, and kachinas.
How would you describe your approach to collecting? Our approach is a very open one. We collect pieces that appeal to us and that we want to live with. We don’t have a plan. Our collection has been created by visiting galleries, attending sales and auctions, and acquiring what we like and can afford.
How long have you been collecting? Twenty years.
How did you get started? Karen’s mother, Burl, wanted to go to an auction in Dallas. Burl asked Karen if she would like to accompany her. If the answer was yes, there would be a stay at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek as a reward. Karen went and afterward spent a few days in Dallas. During that time, she visited several galleries and saw Michael Coleman’s INDIAN CAMP, ROCKY MOUNTAINS. She bought it and had it sent home. Thus began a true passion and addiction.
What’s your most recent acquisition? Kyle Polzin’s SPURS WITH LARIAT. We acquired it at this year’s Prix de West show.
What piece do visitors comment on the most? About 20 years ago we met James Bama and later were able to acquire his sepia watercolor SLIM LIGHTING UP from Big Horn Gallery, which was then in Jackson Hole, WY. This piece has a special place in our hearts because it was sold by a grandfather to help pay for his grandson’s college education. This watercolor is thought by many who see it to be pencil because the detail is incredible. When we told James Bama that we had acquired this piece, he made the comment that it was one of the paintings he wished he had never let go.
Is there a piece that got away? Years ago at the Charlie Russell auction in Great Falls, MT, we came across an illustrated letter written by Russell on the exact day of Karen’s birth, May 17, 1943. Karen has never forgotten about it.
Where do you purchase art? We purchase a lot of our art from galleries, but we also attend many of the shows and auctions. Our favorite shows are the Prix de West and the Cowboy Artists of America show. We also go to the Jackson Hole Art Auction and the Scottsdale Art Auction.