Mark Waskow/7 Days

Mark Waskow courtesy of 7Days

It seemed to start in September of 1998, with Mark’s attendance at the South End Art Hop that year. This event did have a profound effect on his life and what was to become the major focus of his interests. Within three months of the Art Hop, Mark had several hundred artworks and within a year, the number was in excess of one thousand. It as at this point that he consciously realized that he was seriously collecting contemporary visual art.

In hindsight, the seeds for this “overnight” change were sown long before this. Mark’s mother was a commercial artist as a young adult, and although she was not pursuing her art professionally by the time he came into the world, her affections and skill sets were quite evident: large murals on the tile walls of the family’s bathroom; her tendency to be expressive through drawing (of a high caliber); and her interest in going to museums and galleries in New York City where Mark grew up. She was a terrific role model for loving art. As a young adult at college, Mark was always the one (the only one unfortunately) to suggest that his friends accompany him to the Johnson Museum of Art on campus. Shortly after settling in Vermont, Mark joined the Advisory Board of the T. W. Wood Art Gallery in 1984, more to support local community than as an ardent art aficionado. Finally, in 1995 Janie Cohen, then the Curator of the Fleming Museum (and now its Director), invited Mark to participate in one of two exhibitions which would pair art made from collections by two artists, with a show that intended to show collecting as an art. As it turned out, Mark was the sole participant in the latter show, which was entitled “Selections From My Collections.” It should be pointed out that Mark was not collecting visual art as such at that time, but had a long history of collecting a variety of other items. As a result of this museum show, Mark met several other Vermont-based artists, who would have a profound impact on him.

Other than purchasing four metal sculptures and four monoprints in 1996, nothing else was happening externally until his visit to the South End Art Hop in Burlington, Vermont in the Fall of 1998. At this event, he met several other artists, who, along with those mentioned above, in tandem with the influence of his mother, are credited with helping to nurture, educate and support his nascent interests and tendencies. Mark had always been a passive participant and supporter of the arts until then. At that point a switch flipped, and has not flipped back since.

This collection of art, from which The Waskowmium has developed, started out as a hobby, and has grown to a point where it would be considered a mid-sized institutional-level collection. It is believed to be the largest collection of Contemporary Visual Art in Northern New England. Of course the number of pieces that a collection contains, or their value does not in of itself create importance within a collection. This collection, is intended to document the contemporary visual art of the period from the mid-to-late 1980’s through today, particularly, the Vermont ‘art scene.’

As many individuals can not or will not travel to a major urban area, it serves as an opportunity for them so that they may have access to see and experience original art that is representative of what is going on now, and continues to provide access to the art of this period along with related reference materials and documentary ephemera.

Mark S. Waskow is a collector of contemporary art and Independent Curator.  Mark has served as a past board member of the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, VT, the T.W. Wood Art Gallery in Montpelier,VT, the South End Arts and Business Association (SEABA), in Burlington, VT, The Center for Book Arts in New York City; and as Chair of its Audit and Museum Assessment Program Committees, the Curatorial Committee of SEABA, and SEABA’s South End Art Hop, an annual arts festival which draws over 40,000 people to Burlington each year.  He continues to work as (volunteer) Archivist for Studio Place Arts in Barre while devoting much  of his time to the development of The Waskowmium.