WORDS Margaret F.M. Walker
Joe Rowland, Senior Vice President of Investments for Raymond James, is the type of person art teachers smile upon. He showed an early aptitude for art and, while in another profession, has become a consummate appreciator, patron, and collector of art.
Walking into Rowland’s home, the overwhelming sense is that he is a man of excellent—and eclectic—taste. Clean, modern architecture provides a versatile setting for numerous two- and three-dimensional artworks. He takes advantage of this canvas for the collection, if you will, frequently moving paintings to other walls and literally seeing them in a different light. Like the best collectors, Rowland buys what he loves, and each work of art has a story. He’s conscious of value, but does not worry much about space concerns. Paintings cycle on and off walls, around the house, and to his new home in Palm Springs, too.
In the living room, one immediately will notice a kinetic sculpture in the style of Alexander Calder, perched in front of a window. Complementing it is a lithograph by the master, hanging above the fireplace. The largest painting currently in the room, Fair by John Gibson, pops with its vibrant blue and mesmerizes you with its subject of three balls, subtly unfinished, as though sitting on a ledge. Perfectly balanced, they appear still, in defiance of their round shape. Rowland, who went to school for architecture but then turned to business, has always had a keen eye for design. He keeps a file of particularly inspiring magazine clippings from Architectural Digest and other publications, and he realized only after acquiring Fair that he had filed away, years prior, a magazine clipping with another work by Gibson.
Three works by Kit Reuther hang within the home and reflect the artist’s growing shift from realism to abstraction. Shown here is Landscape with Fruit, 2001, also currently in the living room. Another balanced work, it contrasts hyperrealist grapes with a neutral, abstracted landscape. In the master bedroom, the painting by Russian artist Andrei Karpov is a scene of humorous activity as the portly figures do various calisthenics.
“Like the best collectors, Rowland buys what he loves, and each work of art has a story.”
In Rowland’s kitchen is a vibrant Helmut Koller painting of three roosters on an orange background. It has a strong pop-art feel to it and enlivens the space. This is one that often is traded out for the space in the living room where the Gibson currently hangs. Rowland notes how, for all this bright painting’s similarities, an observant viewer can see the differences among the three roosters.
Rowland has a true love for art, surrounding himself with it in his home and socializing often at local arts events. In 1992 he chaired Artrageous, a precursor to today’s art crawls that was a benefit for Nashville Cares. Rowland’s collection has come to be through his constant watching, at home and in his travels, for works that resonate. His first paintings were bought off the street in Rio in 1987. He has a continued fondness for them, and they are still on prominent display amongst more recent purchases.
I asked Rowland what is on his wish list. Are there particular pieces to which he is attuned and always on the lookout for? It is clear from the wonderful variety of his collection that he enjoys the mid-century aesthetic. I was not surprised to learn that a Matisse lithograph and an Ellsworth Kelly are high on his list, as is a Fernando Botero. Always on the lookout for a new work to acquire and enjoy, Rowland has a continued appreciation for the paintings and sculptures around his home, seeing new details in them through time and enjoying their beauty daily.