Collecting Singaporean Art in Los Angeles: An interview with Kelsey Lee Offield and Cole Sternberg

By Singapore Arts Club

Feb 08th, 2017 10:15 AM

Kelsey Lee Offield and her dog, Gusford at home. Artwork in the background – portrait of a child Holocaust victim by Christian Boltanski

Newlyweds Kelsey Lee Offield of the Wrigley family and L.A. based multi-disciplinary contemporary artist, Cole Sternberg, share a passion for art – making art but also collecting art from various parts of the world. Kelsey sits on the boards of the Catalina Island Museum, Los Angeles Nomadic Division and LAXART, and is also an advisory member of VIA Art. She owns an art gallery, Gusford Gallery, in L.A. and has been featured in various publications, such as LA Confidential, C Magazine, ArtBlitz, Haute Living and Art Parasites. Amongst her favourite artists, is none other than her husband, Cole, whose works have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Whitewall Magazine, Issue Magazine, Autre Magazine, Hercules, Denver Post, Miami New Times, LA Weekly, Art Ltd., and the Huffington Post.

Before this charming couple took off for their honeymoon in Cambodia, they took the time to speak to SAC International about what kind of art they collect and why…


SAC: Kelsey, you come from an art collecting family, with strong philanthropic roots. Has this influenced the type of art that you collect personally?

Kelsey: No, not necessarily. My family collected art that reflected the worlds they loved and lived in…for example, my parents primarily collected California pleinair paintings, whilst my grandparents (who had strong ties to Arizona) collected southwestern art. But because I chose to study and work in the arts, I primarily collect contemporary art.

SAC: Who are your most favorite artists and why? You seem to collect mostly female artists. Is this coincidence or by choice?

Kelsey: I collect female artists by choice - but not exclusively. Ursula von Ryvinsgard is a favorite, Lorna Simpson, Tara Donovan, Christian Boltanski, and of course, Cole Sternberg!

SAC: What is the most interesting artwork you have bought recently?

Kelsey: Last year at Art Basel Miami Beach, I bought a work by Lorna Simpson. I am very excited about the piece, even though it is too large for my current house (it didn’t fit on any wall!) but we are designing a room in our new home that is inspired and influenced by the Lorna Simpson work. I can’t wait to see it installed! I also got a really cool “one-person tequila bar” by Alex Hubbard! It’s an installation made out of a museum crate about the size of two phone booths, stocked with alcohol, with a bar chair you can sit on and look at yourself in the mirror while you drink! It’s pretty radical!

Kelsey having her lone drink in Alex Hubbard’s “one-person tequila bar” that she purchased in Mexico recently.

SAC: Cole, you are an artist yourself and an art collector as well. Do you have the same taste in collecting as Kelsey?

Cole: Our tastes align in the vast majority of arenas, such as with artists like Dorothy Iannone, Lorna Simpson, Peter Dreher and Christian Boltanski. I’m also interested in certain conceptual artists like Bas Jan Ader and Bert Rodriguez, whose work is a bit different than what Kelsey tends to be driven to.

SAC: Who are some of your favourite artists and why?

Cole: There are simply too many to name. I love Ray Johnson, his collages, his mail art and his final performance especially, which is chronicled in the documentary ‘How to Draw a Bunny.’ I love Bas Jan Ader’s approach to life as performance, from his most famous work, ‘The Fall’ to his final work ‘In Search of the Miraculous’. Marcel Cosson’s paintings of the Parisian Ballet from the early 1900s I find beautiful in palette and composition. Dorothy Iannone’s merging of the figurative, abstract and text from the 1960s are equally stunning...

Artist Cole Sternberg in his studio in L.A. Cole’s elegant and poetic works deal extensively with socio-political issues, from human rights activism, legal and environmental issues, to media and concepts of content overload.

SAC: Kelsey, you’ve collected, as well as exhibited works of Singaporean artist Genevieve Chua in your gallery, Gusford, in LA. What is it about Gen’s work that attracts you to it?

Kelsey: The juxtaposition of simplicity layered with complexity. I first saw Gen’s work in Basel, Switzerland. It was a sculptural work that represents a complicated and imaginary game. It is a wooden table with steel legs, and 72 bronze “dice.” The dice are beautiful objects individually and as a whole, I loved the work for the complex history that Gen contrived in creating the work, whilst visually being so elegant and simple.

Kelsey with Singaporean artist, Genevieve Chua at GUSFORD Gallery, L.A.

Genevieve Chua’s original edition of “72”. A second edition of this work will be presented at Art Stage 2017. Photo credit: Genevieve Chua

SAC: Where do you go to look for interesting works of art? Do you collaborate when you’re looking to buy a new artwork or do you both buy according to your own tastes and see how the pieces interact with each other?

Kelsey: We travel a lot to artist studios, galleries and art fairs to find interesting work. Sometimes we collaborate, but if I think Cole will hate a piece that I love, then we don’t collaborate on those acquisitions.

Cole: I think we collaborate, but sometimes things appear that surprise me. For instance, a massive eight-foot high Caitlin Keogh of a woman with a snake coming from between her legs suddenly existed in our bedroom!

Rendering of forthcoming living room in the couple's new home with their newly acquired Lorna Simpson artwork as feature piece.
Design by FORM Design Studio, Designers: Rafael Kalichstein, Joshua Rose and Ophélie Renaudin

All photos unless otherwise stated are courtesy of Kelsey Lee Offield and Cole Sternberg