Interview with art collector Anthony E. Cowan

Por 4 octubre, 2020
Anthony E. Cowan

"My collection is an expression of my interior life and my aspirations towards transcendence."

Anthony E. Cowan (55, USA) divides his time between his healing work as a holistic therapist and his passion for glass art. He lives in Sarasota, Florida, in an apartment with a balcony where he can watch the Gulf, the dolphins jumping, hid gaze on the horizon and his imagination always a little bit beyond it.
Anthony has been collecting glass art only for a short time beginning in 2019, but his immersion in this field has been fast and deep – his collection currently stands at 22 pieces by renowned artists. He is guided by spiritual impulses primarily, focussing on the conditions of the world and on promoting artistic beauty and well-being beyond the merely economic and material.
Anthony E. Cowan Glass collection Objetos con Vidrio Glass Art

Wolf Totem – Daniel Friday

Anthony E. Cowan Glass collection Objetos con Vidrio Glass Art

Arctic Tide – Alex Gabriel Bernstein


How did you start collecting glass?

The first time I saw glass blown was in Kosta BodaSweden, when I was a teenager. It was 1979 and Bertil Vallien It was him gaffer. My family also visited the glass factories of Bergdala Y Orrefors Y we bought our first piece of glass art. But I could say it was last year in 2019, what my love for this material returned with passion. I mean the day I visited the Imagine Museum of Glass in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Duncan McClellan Glass Gallery.

Until then, for years, I had been working with quartz crystal and other minerals in my healing practice and had looked at glass as a comparatively inert substance. It was a great surprise to discover the power of contemporary glass art at a high level and feel how it can affect the space around it and improve people’s energy and mental state.

What was the first piece you bought?

The first work I bought was Arctic tide Of Alex Gabriel Bernstein. I fell in love with the color, the translucency and the iceberg shape of this piece. At the same time, I bought Holiday, of Christopher RiesEquilibrium, of Martin Rosol Transcendent Vesselof Davide salvadore. I realised that i was moving fast, so I asked an art glass expert with decades of experience to become my guide and mentor. Her name is Martha Ballard and it helped me educate and refine my enthusiasm. Together we travel to 47th International Glass Invitational in Habatat Galleries in Michigan in May 2019 and there I met many artists from different parts of the world who worked with glass. That was the best part!

What attracts you to glass in particular and what kind of works do you collect?

I like glass by the way it affects the subtle energy field in the spaces it is in, providing focus and light to the room. Glass is now my favorite medium, but I have also collected Native American paintings, bronze sculptures, and South American artists, such as the Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamin.

What is your most beloved work and why?

My most precious work of art? It’s a difficult question because I love them all, but I could say that it is a painting that my best friend Navaji, did with me Higher Soul (or Atma in Sanskrit). It gives me something to aspire to every day as I work as a holistic therapist. Of all my glass art works, the one I love the most now is Wolf  Totem Of Daniel Friday. This is the last piece I look at before turning off the light at night. The work of Dan is the expression of thousands of years of indigenous culture (Lummi) that flourished in harmony with Nature and Spirit. The wolf is an animal that represents power and a helping spirit for me.

What does creating a collection entail and what would you say to keep in mind? In addition to the passion for art, is there an economic interest?

When I started collecting in earnest, I thought I should only bring home artwork that had strong resale and investment value. I soon realized that this was not in line with my heart and that it would lead me in directions subordinate to purely financial criteria. If art appreciates or devalues? In a market, it is irrelevant to me compared to how it touches my world. My collection is a reflection of my inner life and my aspirations towards transcendence. Beauty is beauty regardless of commercial prices. What if you buy a piece because it was designed by a high-priced famous artist and you mistakenly think that name is its source of value? Then you have to look at it every day in your space for years and it might start to bother you once the look of fame and notoriety has worn off.

Anthony E. Cowan Glass collection Objetos con Vidrio Glass Art

Transcendent Vessel – Davide Salvadore

Anthony E. Cowan Glass collection Objetos con Vidrio Glass Art

Holiday –  Christopher Ries

Anthony E. Cowan Glass collection Objetos con Vidrio Glass Art

Equilibrium – Martin Rosol

Do you have pieces by Latin artists?

I have been looking for glass art by Latino artists for some time, having made trips to South America Y Central America, and I discovered that the glass art market is smaller and harder to find. My plan has always been to live in South America. I found some artists whose work is comparable to the best glass made in U.S.. I love the work of Javier GómezAna Maria NavaHector FloresFerrán ColladoRafa AbdonNatalia GerschcovichPablo SchapiraAndrea da PonteTulio PintoSilvia Levenson Y Jaime Guerrero. They are my favorites right now in exploratory mode. I have also been researching European glass art (not just from Murano) and Asian glass art.

What are your six favorite artists?

I could mention Alex Gabriel BernsteinChristina BothwellTherman StatomDaniel FridayAnthony James and Bertil Vallien.

What was the craziest thing you did to get a play?

I do not know if crazy, but I have prepared to stretch my budget and looked for a line of credit with Art Money, an organization that started in Australia to help collectors obtain art and pay artists and galleries a fair price. I save it for a moment when I fall in love with some special piece that is not in my budget!

Acquiring art is not really my main goal but to support and promote artists. And not just from the world of visual art. I composed piano music for an installation of John Littleton and Kate Vogel, And I have created a scholarship in Penland School of Crafts for artists who work with glass. I sponsor a podcast dedicated to documenting glass art, these are things that matter more to me than owning and owning a job that only me and a few of my friends and clients will see.

We have to keep the big picture and the future in mind, or we will all lose eventually.

Do you think this pandemic situation helped us value art much more?

The pandemic has shown the masses the importance of arts and entertainment when they cannot work or travel or attend sporting events, parties or conferences. Where do people turn for comfort and inspiration? To the arts and entertainment.

One of the greatest ironies of our civilization is how absurd and irrational our financial compensation system has become, which has nothing to do with anything of lasting value and takes a lot for granted. People want beauty, but they don’t always want to pay for it. Or you want to have beautiful spaces but still make a profit. Capitalism thrives on illusions of rights and property. For me there is a correlation between spirituality, artistic creation and art appreciation, so living in an era in which spirituality has largely become a privatized pursuit akin to hobbyist philosophy or a show of Yoga, there is a corresponding incoherence and a void of shared meaning and value in public art, at least that is what I have found in U.S. The pandemic caused individual artists I know to lose their studies and had to change their lives. It has made survival a huge challenge even for Italy’s former global glassmaking epicenter, Murano, and we have yet to see who and what will survive when this is all over.

What are your future plans?

My plans include continuing to travel to South America and connect with the glass artists and galleries of the region. I’m interested in a Colombian glass artist named Marta Isabel Ramirez Silva and there are several others in Argentina and Brazill.

Objetos con Vidrio It has been invaluable to me personally in finding the artists I am looking for who are underrepresented in the main english speaking markets. There is a gallery in AshevilleNorth Carolina, call Contemporary Asheville which offers some work by Latino artists, but that’s the exception.

In the future I would like to see more representation of glass artists who are LGBTQ, who belong to racial minorities and who have not received adequate recognition even within the world of glass making, such as pipe makers.

Instagram helped me find some great artists that I then spoke to with museum directors and gallery owners, asking them to update and expand their catalogs. I look forward to a more inclusive, expansive and truly cosmopolitan world of glass art.

Anthony E. Cowan Glass collection Objetos con Vidrio Glass Art

Atma Anthony by Navaji David Nava, 2020

This is Anthony’s favorite work, a painting that his best friend Navaji made of his Higher Soul (or Atma in Sanskrit).

It gives me something to aspire to every day while working as a holistic therapist. ” Anthony tells us

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