Those who know one of the world’s most extensive private art collections by reputation will soon have the chance to see it in person.
On May 18, the Pizzuti Collection opens its doors at 632 N. Park St. in the Short North. Every item in the nonprofit gallery comes from developer Ron Pizzuti, long known as an extremely enthusiastic collector of modern and contemporary art and design; he is ranked by ARTnews magazine as one of the top 200 collectors in the world.
“Ron and (his wife) Ann have been collecting for 30-plus years,” says Rebecca Ibel, collection curator.
Ibel – who describes the curator gig as her “dream job” – has been working toward this opening since Pizzuti brought her on in 2011. From 1993 to 2011, she owned Rebecca Ibel Gallery in the Short North.
The new gallery is in a 1923-built building located just off Goodale Park. Pizzuti bought the building years ago with the intention of eventually turning it into a gallery of the artwork he owns, and the space – which most recently held an insurance agency – has been completely gutted and repurposed.
Two themed exhibitions will be on display when the collection opens in May.
On the second floor, straight up the stairs from the entrance, is Cuban Forever, a collection of Cuban art, which Pizzuti has been collecting for years.
Highlights include American Appeal (Bridge) by Yoan Capote, a bridge and cityscape of oil, nails, canvas and black-painted fish hooks on plywood; DUST (New York) by Alexandre Arrechea, a glass punching bag filled with rubble; Heroes Before the Last Vision by Raul Cordero, a painting of a path with the face of a hero of the Cuban Revolution in the background; Ahorrativo by Douglas Perez, an elaborate painting the centerpiece of which is a cross between an octopus and a chandelier; Yamaha GP by Duvier Del Dago, a 3D string sculpture of a motorcycle illuminated by a blacklight; and Infinito Tiempo, Infinito Color, Infinito Memoria, Infinito Destino by Damian Aquiles, a series of small metal cuts of walking men made from found materials, mostly pieces of old cars and tanks.
“For many years, artists (in Cuba) had no money … and so it became a tradition, almost, to use what you could find,” says Linda Gall, projects coordinator for the collection.
Up on the third floor is Inaugural Exhibition, which highlights the beginnings of Pizzuti’s collection. Artists represented there include Frank Stella, Susan Rothenberg, Jim Dine, Ron Arad, Gerhard Richter, Kenneth Price and Guillermo Kuitca.
“The first piece of art (Pizzuti) ever bought is in the exhibition,” Ibel says.
That piece is Circus People, a 1970 silkscreen print by Karel Appel.
Visitors to Inaugural Exhibition are greeted by Backup Enchantress by John Chamberlain, a huge metal sculpture made of spray-painted car bumpers. Beyond that sculpture is the third floor’s main gallery in a room that had four drop ceilings before Pizzuti had them removed. Now, the room has an exceptionally high ceiling – all the better to house Moon Cabinet #5 by Al Weiwei, a 10-foot-tall wood sculpture, as well as several huge paintings. A terrace off the third floor will be used for parties and events and will also host some sculptures.
Cuban Forever and Inaugural Exhibition will be on display through June 2014.
The first floor will house various works by young and emerging artists, including several pieces that offer interpretations on the American flag by such artists as Josiah McElheny and Robert Buck. It is also home to the collection’s art library and reference room.
Pizzuti works hard to stay ahead of the curve and keep tabs on the newest artists of the day, Ibel says.
“Even for art insiders, these are new voices and new faces,” she says.
The gallery will be open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and also by appointment. More information is available at www.pizzuticollection.com.
Garth Bishop is editor of CityScene Magazine. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.