by Sophie Collette | photography by Jerry Atnip
Art has been an integral part of Jeff lynch’s life for as long as he can remember. “The first thing to say about it is that I have been drawn to art since I was a small boy, as early as four or five years old. It was part of my DNA from the beginning,” he says. In college at Vanderbilt, Lynch was a contributing artist and art editor for a campus magazine. When he opted to pursue finance rather than studio art, he did not turn his back on creativity. Lynch explains, “All of those early years, I painted and drew. My love for art never left, but my opportunity to create was put on the back burner.” Beginning his collection as a young professional, Lynch found a new outlet to express himself. “On a trip to New York in 1991, I bought my very first piece of art. I was so excited about it! All that did was stoke the fire. Collecting is one of the ways I express my passion, and one of the most fun parts about art is being able to share it.”
Lynch describes his evolution as a collector with a historical analogy. “The very first group of artists that fascinated me were the Impressionists, from an art history class in junior high. When the impressionists first started making art, it was perceived as garbage. Maybe that’s a representation of how it’s been for me. My tastes didn’t change. They just broadened and blossomed. I became fascinated with contemporary art.”
Evidence of Lynch’s blossoming taste for contemporary art permeates his home. Mike, a mixed-media work by artist Zac Freeman, hangs directly across from his front door, greeting entering visitors. From a distance, it seems like an intricate and realistic oil portrait. Up close, it reveals bottle caps, Legos, and bits of broken toys.
Lynch relates, “Mike fascinates me. That piece is transcendent. How do you take junk and turn it into something that absolutely grabs you? That’s where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. That’s the magic of art.”
For Lynch, the mystery of an artist’s intention is part of the joy of experiencing a work. Speaking of Pear with a Pair by Ray Hare, he says, “This is a painting that looks perfect. Everything about it is perfect, and yet the artist took bruised pears and painted them exactly as they are. They are not beautiful, and yet the painting is almost aesthetically perfect.” Describing Ambition by Adam Normandin, Lynch ponders, “There is a guy in a workshop pulling a rope with all his might, but there is a huge part of the story that we don’t know. What is he trying to pull? It captures a vignette, a human struggle. How do you capture a concept without a narrative? This is beautifully rendered art, and I loved it for that, but you start pulling back the layers . . . ” This vision of art rhymes with Lynch’s take on human nature. “We are multilayered individuals,” he says.
“Most of our lives are built around practical things, but I can’t imagine what my life would be without art. It gives me pleasure, gives me joy, gives me an escape. It’s not confined to a mechanical, dry, objective world. Those things don’t give you that additional layer—that indefinable ingredient that art does. In that regard, art is like food for the soul.”