Art collection - Painting by William Lawson
Painting by William Lawson

Plein Air Art Collectors Spotlight: Michael Quinn and Tony Fay

“As a child, my interest was building tree forts and running with the neighborhood kids,” says Michael Quinn. “The art appreciation bug didn’t hit me until college, when I took the subject as a ‘filler course.’ Although I was always a back-row kind of guy, I sat in the front row in this class and ending up acing it. I was absolutely captivated by the new world that had opened to me. I still have the book we used; I couldn’t sell it. This love of art spilled over to a love of history and architecture. And that love of architecture and history led me to restore several 1860 carpenters’ cottages in Lockerbie Square, a historic district in Indianapolis.

“My skill is not with a brush, but with a hammer. I love taking these dilapidated, neglected, and forgotten homes and bringing them back to life. It only takes a few classic features for me to see the diamond in the rough. Today, my husband, Tony, and I live in a 100-year-old Federal house that we’ve been restoring for the past three years. We love art and the joy it brings to our home.

“My first art purchase was a painting William Lawson made of my 428 Spring Street home in Lockerbie during the 1996 home tour. I was unaware that artists were to be out and about that day. He was painting in my garden, and I was enthralled. I purchased the painting from him that day.

“In general, I like to make purchases from the artists themselves. I want the back story and motivation for each piece. I can tell you all about the artists whose work I have the honor to hang in our home. Tony and I look for unique pieces that speak to us. We are not much into the ‘modern stuff.’ We like traditional, not trendy.

“I met Wyatt LeGrand at a paint-out at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site about 10 years ago. He was a young student still searching for his role in life. I purchased a painting from him as a gift for my father, the president of the Friends of T.C. Steele, where I was also a board member. He was recuperating from heart surgery, and I wanted to bring him home a painting so he could have a piece of the event. A year later, I commissioned a painting from Wyatt. I wanted a view of Monument Circle from a different perspective — one that gave the impression that it was holding the monument safe, almost protecting it. He hit my idea spot on.

“A couple of years ago, Wyatt asked me to sit for him for a portrait series he was working on — 100 Hoosiers from all walks of life. He confided to me that the night before I met him at the paint-out all those years ago, he was not sure he was going to pursue painting professionally. Selling a painting that day motivated him to give it a shot. He also told me that I had given him his first commission. I feel so humbled and honored to be a part of this incredible artist’s history.”

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