Collectors Corner: Deirdre Skolfield and Tom Patterson

Along her way through life, Deirdre Skolfield has kept her eyes peeled; always ready to invest in work that resonates with her: "Honestly the first thing I respond to in art is color and content, and if the content is not uplifting somehow, I pass. I look for the art in my home to uplift and inspire." 

Deirdre began her collection by acquiring three Howard Finster pieces from 921 Art Gallery in Fort Lauderdale, FL in the late ‘90s. "I recognized the artist from the Talking Heads album," Deirdre shared, referencing 'Little Creatures', released in 1985. She and her husband, Tom Patterson, added more folk art to their collection while on visits to her hometown of New Orleans, including Al Taplet and Lottie Reasoner, whom they discovered at Jazzfest. Tom liked that Lottie framed her pieces, which were “Grandma Moses-esque”, with cypress trees from Patterson, LA.

Tom Patterson and Deirdre Skolfield in Augusta GA

Deirdre Skolfield holding a Finster Angel, Tom Patterson holding the Al Taplet. On the wall are multiple pieces by Lottie and Finster.

While living in Washington, D.C., Deirdre once found an odd, but familiar looking work of art in a broken frame at a junk shop. Feeling inclined, she purchased it. That piece turned out to be a Marc Chagall lithograph, “Adam & Eve Banished from the Garden of Eden.” After moving to Pacific Palisades, Deirdre went to visit local gallery owner Charlotte Sherman to find out more about the Chagall. She ended up buying several pieces of Charlotte’s nature-themed works, as well as a Claude Vignon etching from the 1600's "Virgin and Child Appearing to St. Dominic." 

Marc Chagall lithograph, Adam and Eve Banished from the Garden of Eden.

The couple's son, William, holding a Claude Vignon etching and Marc Chagall lithograph.

As soon as they moved to Augusta, Ga, Deirdre was on the lookout again. She walked into during an exhibit in conjunction with TEDxAugusta. Within the first moment of seeing a piece by Jay Jacobs, she decided to buy it. "It really spoke to me about a determined self-resurrection from one's own dark times and thoughts … towards a vision of something pure and beautiful," said Deirdre, adding, "I just love it!" It is her favorite piece after the large Howard Finster. Deirdre added, "I wouldn't trade it for ten times what I paid."

Augusta Art Collectors

Tom holding the Ruth Pearl piece and the couple is standing in front of Jay Jacob's "Untitled 2015."

Admittedly, Deirdre doesn't buy art to "go" in a certain room of her home or office, it's more of an emotional grab of artwork that she just decides she wants in her life when she comes upon it by chance. "Luckily I’ve got a very understanding husband who – out of all the artwork I’ve brought home – resonates most with local artist Ruth Pearl’s piece ‘Orlando Inspired’ purchased from Ed Durant from the Frame Shoppe & Gallery on Walton Way. Ed’s incredible eye for unique framing turned my own little watercolor of apples and a pear from my art class at Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art into something I’m proud to display in my home. And I really admire the time and effort he puts into bringing local artists to the attention of his customers and designers."

When meeting with Jay Jacobs, he suggested Deirdre check out Staci Swider's work, and she loved what she saw on Staci's website. Deirdre explained, "Her colors were gorgeous and the theme of beautiful white-yellow lotus flowers rising up from the brackish muck reminded me of Jay's work." That piece is now in their living room.

With a 20+ year career in finance and investments, Deirdre says she can’t help but be impressed with the significant appreciation in the value of her collection. "As a Chartered Financial Analyst, we’re trained to include alternative asset classes like Art in an investment portfolio. It’s meant to be a diversifier from stocks and bonds, much like REITS or emerging market funds, but a work of art is also a thing of beauty that can be enjoyed every day so what’s not to love?!"