Sunday, October 08, 2017

You Could Own Part of 1871 CEO’s Mesmerizing Art Collection

You Could Own Part of 1871 CEO’s Mesmerizing Art Collection

From surreal monkey portraits to tasteful nudes, Howard Tullman’s collection—many by living artists—will be auctioned off this month.

Howard Tullman stands in front of Mission Posey: Hyacinth Arsonist, a painting by Thomas Woodruff valued at $6,000 to $8,000. 

Howard Tullman is best known as a tech entrepreneur, but he’s also a noted art collector. Visitors to his Milwaukee Avenue gallery were mesmerized over the years by the colorful portraits and surreal imagery that highlight much of his collection.
Now, Tullman is selling the gallery space and relocating the collection. (He’s given many pieces away, including to museums and the 1871 Chicago space—and his grown daughters can only take in so much.) On Oct. 30, he’ll auction off 200 pieces from his 1,600-piece collection of eclectic art, portraits, nudes, and sculptures.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is handling the event. Proceeds will benefit Tullman’s family foundation, which provides stipends and scholarships to art students, donates to museums, and funds special events.
Culling the collection has been a lengthy process as Tullman and his wife, Judy, see each work as special. “When I first made the list, she looked at a few and said, ‘Over my dead body.’ So I adjusted it,” he says with a chuckle.
Among pieces up for auction: Naughty Betty by Donald Roller Wilson. It’s colorful and features a smiling monkey wearing a crown made of roses. It’s also by a living artist, which is a hallmark of his collection.
Naughty Betty has an estimated value of $10,000 to $15,000. 

“All of the pieces are special because of the artists,” says Tullman, who had developed lifelong friendships with many of the artists whose work he holds dear.
Works by well-known artists are in the mix, too, including the late Herb Ritz’s True Blue featuring Madonna. It’s estimated to go for $2,000 to $4,000, and the entire auction is expected to draw $500,000 to $1 million.
Along with the works themselves, Tullman’s name as owner will be a draw for potential buyers, says Zack Wirsum, director and senior specialist of fine art at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. “Howard’s name and his various entrepreneurial pursuits and the impact he’s had on Chicago all add cachet to what’s being sold,” Wirsum says. “It makes each piece more desirable.”
The auction comes as Tullman prepares to step down as CEO of the 1871 entrepreneurial center. He will remain on the board.
The sale of his gallery space closes another chapter: The neighboring Intuit museum is buying the property. It’s a nice fit, says Tullman. “I’m glad it’s going to the museum.”
For the 20 years he’s owned the space, it’s been a refuge where he writes. It’s also a hip gathering spot for art students studying portrait work and friends. A fundraiser for Hillary Clinton was held there. The late Harold Ramis and fellow actor John Cusack laughed together at a dinner party amid the collection of nudes and pop art. And Rahm Emanuel lived in a portion of the 5,000-square-foot gallery while he was running for mayor back in 2010.
The catalogue was released today, and the auction is online only. The exhibition is open for display by appointment.
Starving Bourgeois by Jim Lutes has an estimated value of $8,000 to $12,000. 

Coma Dent by Karl Wirsum is over three feet wide and long, and has an estimated value of $10,000 to $15,000. 


Beach #120 by Hilo Chen, oil on canvas, is valued at over $8,000. 


Elwood Grill #2 by Robert Gniewak was created in 2003 and estimated to be worth $10,000 to $15,000. 


1871 CEO Howard Tullman Speaks on Tech Trends for PAA Conference in Hilton Head

Friday, October 06, 2017

Meet the Chicago artists CEOs love to collect

Meet the Chicago artists CEOs love to collect

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A Hebru Brantley mural at @Properties Uptown office. - @Properties
Photo by @PropertiesA Hebru Brantley mural at @Properties Uptown office.
For CEOs, adding an impressive piece to the company corporate collection is a subtle way to make a mark. And while some acquire hard-to-find pieces from around the world, others are turning to local artists to get one-of-a-kind work, often with Chicago themes. Here are the local artists getting corporate attention—and dollars.
@Properties Peoria Street office. - @Properties
Photo by @Properties@Properties Peoria Street office.
When @properties co-founder Thaddeus Wong was brainstorming gifts to send to the real estate brokerage's 2,500 top customers, he wanted to make a statement. So in 2015 he commissioned Chicago painter Hebru Brantley to create a coffee table book, a collectible similar to one Brantley had published in the past.
"It just spoke to me—his art is something special," says Wong, who became acquainted with Brantley's work after seeing his mural on Bucktown's Nike store. Brantley has graffiti artist roots, and his cartoon-like work is collected around the globe.
Hebru Brantley, left, and Thaddeus Wong
Hebru Brantley, left, and Thaddeus Wong
After the book, Wong commissioned Brantley to paint a family portrait as an anniversary present for his wife (which includes their four children); it hangs in their Lincoln Park home. He also displays an oil painting of Brantley's “Flyboy” character along with a sculpture inside @properties' Goose Island office, and a Brantley mural is on the firm's Uptown office building. "Commissions are always a fun challenge," says Brantley, 36, who replied via email while traveling in Japan but typically works out of his Pilsen studio. Creating a custom piece requires "an understanding of the subjects on a conceptual level," he says.
Michael Small, left and Josh Moulton
Michael Small, left and Josh Moulton
When Chicago artist Josh Moulton met Gogo Chief Executive Michael Small at a technology event at 1871, the tech incubator inside the Merchandise Mart, they stayed in touch via email. Months later, Small asked Moulton—who regularly paints Chicago-centric scenes for corporate clients such as Deloitte, PWC and McDonald's—to add local flavor to a company conference room.
For Small, Moulton created two paintings that show Gogo's exterior (and prominent signage) among the other downtown high-rises. Moulton began the process by taking photos of the exterior views and painting to scale from the photographs. The turnaround took about a month, because he had to capture el tracks, bridges and building facades. "Each (painting) has a ton of little windows," says Moulton, 39, who runs a storefront gallery in Lincoln Park featuring his paintings and prints.
Small says he commissioned the work because it helps employees understand how the in-flight internet-connection company contributes to the fabric of Chicago. "The idea was to make our building prominent, but in the context of the city," he says. "If you wanted to, you could give a city tour right from the painting."
Moulton says the corporate relationships help keep him afloat as an artist. He often provides a selection of photographs to clients and asks them which images they'd like him to depict. Most are scenes of Chicago. "That's what really sells," he adds.
Jeff Zimmerman's mural at 1871
Jeff Zimmerman's mural at 1871
Anyone who nears 1871's Merchandise Mart 12th-floor space can't help but notice the colorful mural covering 80 feet of the hallway that leads to the entrance. The artwork, which muralist Jeff Zimmermann painted off-site and later installed, is a tribute to the city's creative minds. A Chicago hot dog sits alongside aerial views of the city and cow heads. The mural was the brainchild of 1871 Chief Executive Howard Tullman. A longtime art collector, Tullman wanted "something young, hip and visually sophisticated," says Zimmermann, who painted the mural in 2014 and works alongside artist Jason Brammer out of a Humboldt Park space.
Jeff Zimmerman, left, and Howard Tullman
Jeff Zimmermann, left, and Howard Tullman
The CEO/artist relationship has evolved from there. With the help of Tullman, Zimmermann painted a 90-foot-tall mural in 2016 in Bucktown off of the 606 trail that was sponsored by fellow 1871 resident Conagra. It includes symbols of the city along with one of his signature knots. (It also features an image of Tullman, Zimmermann points out.) Outside work, Tullman hired the muralist to paint a backdrop for a short play he wrote a few years ago. "He's got my loyalty," says Zimmermann, 47.
For his part, Tullman, who is stepping down from 1871 at year-end, says that Zimmermann adds a distinctly Chicago feel to the tech space. The symbols in his mural are meant to give a sort of energy to the office while adding color to the loft-like feel. "It's a very active piece," says Tullman. "We didn't want it to be a situation where (the artwork) would fade into the wall."
Joshua Rogers - Manuel Martinez
Photo by Manuel MartinezJoshua Rogers
While Joshua Rogers tends to hang noncommissioned pieces on the walls of his wealth management firm, the CEO has recently made a few exceptions. An abstract portrait of Rogers and his fiancee, commissioned from Chicago artist Alex Bradley Cohen, is a highlight in his personal office at Arete's West Loop headquarters.
Rogers met Cohen through a mutual friend. The two hung out at Rogers' home prior to the commission, says the artist, a 2014 School of the Art Institute graduate who specializes in portraiture. "It felt less like a commission and more like a work of art that I was making for a friend," he says.
Rogers says he was drawn to the quirkiness of his work and was excited to meet an up-and-coming local talent. Cohen often depicts abstract figures in a real-life context. He had a large solo exhibit at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery in New York this fall.
Most of the time, the wealth manager prefers to choose works from Arete's inventory and advises clients to do the same through the firm's year-old art advisory service. To do otherwise is "almost like going to a fine-dining chef and saying you have to add more salt to this dish," Rogers says. "It's kind of a faux pas."

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