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Some couples collect coins. Sue and Tim Frautschi prefer contemporary art.

Tim Frautschi reflects on a self-portrait by Chuck Close. Photo by Aliza Baran

It all started on their honeymoon, back in 1981. Sue and Tim Frautschi were in Greece, and they spotted an olive oil pot sitting in someone’s backyard. They purchased it, and had the 4-foot-tall behemoth shipped back to the States.

There were more (five, to be exact) olive oil pots and other acquisitions to come. But after Sue started studying to be a docent at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the couple’s collecting impulse homed in on paintings, sculptures and other works of art.

For the most part, their tastes align. “We like contemporary art, thought-provoking art,” says Tim, a retired lawyer. “As for differences, I’m more of a risk-taker and Sue is more conservative. Sue worries whether a piece might be offensive and I don’t.”

Their two-story loft in the Third Ward offers the perfect showcase for their collection. “We never had a decorator,” says Sue. “It’s a very personal space and reflects our lives together.” If there’s a problem in this art-filled paradise, it’s that, with so many windows, there’s not an enormous amount of wall space on which to hang things. That, according to Sue, leads to “some very lively conversations about where things will go.”

More than just a hobby, the couple’s shared passion for art has become integral to their marriage. “It gives us a common and enjoyable interest,” says Tim. “It’s a subject of conversation and debate on an intense and intimate level. What could be better for a relationship?” ◆

A painting by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye hangs above the couple’s bed. Photo by Aliza Baran


INTERESTED IN BUILDING YOUR OWN COLLECTION?

Here’s some advice from the Frautschis.

Sue and Tim Frautschi moved into their loft in 2007. Photo by Aliza Baran

EDUCATE YOURSELF

Tim: Start looking. Go to the art museum. Read about art. Go to gallery nights. That’s how you start forming opinions. Look and think and debate about what looks good.

BUY FOR LOVE, NOT INVESTMENT

Sue: We just started buying what we are attracted to and that led to more in that genre. We don’t invest. We just buy what we like. We don’t talk about selling anything.

THINK LOCAL

Tim: We like to support the local art scene. We enjoy getting to know the artists and gallerists and we like to be part of the first sale, which is the most important sale for the artist [as opposed to the secondary market, in which the artist is not involved, and typically is not compensated].

CONSIDER LONGEVITY

Tim: We buy what we think we will continue to like for a long time. Sometimes you’re wowed by something, but that feeling doesn’t always last.

PUT THIS DATE ON YOUR CALENDAR

The Contemporary Art Society Art Auction at MAM is Saturday, November 4.

Sue: It’s a great resource. I was on the selection committee for the CAS, and we purchased at least one item from each auction. The pieces enhanced what we had, but also stretched our interests.

A copper statue by John Buck resides in the den of the apartment. Photo by Aliza Baran


‘Like Minds’ appears in the October 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning October 2, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.

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