Home Is Where The Art Is

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Tom Rink can always find more room to hang his growing art collection in his tulsa apartment. Photo by Brandon Scott.
Tom Rink can always find more room to hang his growing art collection in his tulsa apartment. Photo by Brandon Scott.

Tulsa art collector Tom Rink lives in an 828-square-foot apartment, but that has not stopped him from collecting countless paintings and sculptures to display.

The works cover his apartment walls “like a huge jigsaw puzzle,” Rink says, “and I just have to make sure I maximize the space to fit all of the pieces together.”

[Most people] don’t really understand what it means to collect to the point where you really do run out of wall space.”

Rink was a long-time Tulsa police officer before he obtained a master’s degree in library and information studies. He now serves as an academic librarian for Northeastern State University-Broken Arrow. The school has exhibited Rink’s collection three times in its Visitors Center Gallery.

A print by Inuit artist Garry Meeches, Protecting Circle – a college graduation gift from his parents – may have been the piece that began Rink’s art collecting hobby; he points to it as a favorite in his collection. In the signed, limited-edition woodblock print, five bison stand in a line, their manes flipping in the wind.

Rink’s father, Bernie, worked at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Michigan, and held an annual Inuit art sale at the college as a fundraiser for the library in the 1960s. This sale became so popular that the Dennos Museum Center was built to house the large collection amassed by the college, says Rink.

Though he and his father didn’t talk much about art, “I was certainly exposed to art early on, and I was able to develop a love for – and appreciation of – art in all forms,” he says.

Rink’s love of American Indian art expanded when he moved to Tulsa in 1982 and visited the Philbrook Museum of Art and Gilcrease Museum on a regular basis. Though Rink considers Tulsa a wonderful environment to appreciate art, he noticed that no matter where his travels took him, he was constantly looking for local art to purchase.

“[Most people] don’t really understand what it means to collect to the point where you really do run out of wall space,” says Rink.

But wall space is at a premium in his apartment. It took Rink two weeks to finish hanging the artwork when he moved.

“Because I have so much art to display, I can’t afford to get cute with the presentation strategy,” Rink says.

The paintings cover the walls, and glass and bronze sculptures are on wall displays and pedestals.

When people visit Rink’s apartment for the first time, “they are struck by the eclectic variety of artists, styles and [media],” he says. “My collection is very colorful, and lots of guests comment on how bright and cheerful my apartment is because of the art.”

Rink admits that his collection might eventually outgrow his display space. However, “one simply does not stop buying art because one has no more wall space,” he adds.

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