Vail's Most Prolific Arts Patrons Donate Their Private Collection to the Public
After three decades of amassing one of the nation’s largest private collections of contemporary art, Kent and Vicki Logan are in the process of downsizing. Not just their collection, which consists of more than 1,200 works (including 30 Warhols) and which they’ve gifted to public institutions like the Denver Art Museum (there, the Logan Collection—one of the largest gifts in the museum’s history—rotates through the Vicki and Kent Logan Gallery on the fourth floor of the Hamilton Building). They’ve also downsized their home, recently relocating from a 15,000-square-foot residence in Vail’s Potato Patch neighborhood (in addition to a 6,000-square-foot gallery with 124-foot-high ceilings, that home included an 11-foot-diagonal front door to accommodate a massive Damien Hirst spot painting) to a comparatively modest pied-a-terre abutting the fairway at the Country Club of the Rockies in Edwards.
In a lofty, open-plan great room where the life-size figure of a man (one of a series of sculptures entitled I Dreamed I Could Fly by Jonathan Borofsky; the Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts claims another) seems to leap from an upper balcony, Kent Logan relaxes on a sofa. Regarding an Edward Ruscha landscape (a mountain peak backdropped against the words “MOLTEN POLYESTER”) that hangs above the fireplace, he reflects upon a peculiar life transition an art collector might liken to empty nest syndrome.
“I always threaten to make up a more interesting story for how the collection began, but it was just a very spontaneous decision at the time,” says Kent, a former partner at a boutique investment banking firm who purchased his first notable artwork (Mark Stock’s The Butler’s in Love) on a whim while touring galleries with a colleague in San Francisco in 1994. “That was a period of time [when] art collection was built around collectors who were passionate—possibly deranged—and I never gave a thought to whether a piece was resellable or not … I always promised myself early on, and I stuck to it, that I buy what I like, not what I was told I should like, so I’ll see something and I’ll present it to Vicki, and if she really took objection to it I’d back off; but surprisingly, with that many pieces, we’ve had very few real discussions about ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
The Logans’ own harmonious collaboration began in 1985, when they wed on Vail Mountain. The two had friends who were some of the first to settle along what is now the Vail Golf Course, and after years of being perpetual house guests decided to build their own home in Vail’s Potato Patch neighborhood. Three years after completing the project in 1999, the pair added a gallery to house their quickly expanding compilation of contemporary art. The move to Arrowhead, where they spend summers before heading south to Tucson, Arizona, for the remainder of the year, is still somewhat unsettling. The couple—now in their 70s and without children—are getting used to doing without much of their collection, including one of Kent’s favorite pieces, a Lawrence Weiner conceptual masterwork that had adorned the exterior of the couple’s Potato Patch gallery (a phrase, in giant blue letters, “TO THE EXTENT OF HOW DEEP THE VALLEY IS AT SOME GIVEN TIME”), which they gifted to the Town of Vail over the summer and is now installed on a west-facing concrete wall of Vail Village’s main parking structure off Village Centre Drive.
“I think it struck me as so appropriate to the Vail Valley,” says Kent. “To me, it represents that this valley was here a million years ago, and 10,000 years ago it looked much different than today, in 10,000 years from now it will look much different than it does today, and we’re just passing through. It really sparks imagination and contemplation.” And head-scratching, as visitors and longtime locals who’ve driven by the parking structure a hundred times pause and consider the meaning of Weiner’s words, which is open to anyone’s, and everyone’s, interpretation.
“An individual artist is making a statement about something that’s important to them,” Kent explains. “And a collector or curator can look at the variety of these individual artists’ statements and say, ‘I like that statement and that statement.’ So, I’m collecting a number of statements that are part of a bigger picture that I think is making a bigger statement about society at the time—but that’s very much a statement of Kent Logan. In any case, the most important thing to me with contemporary art is that it be shown—if people don’t see it, it doesn’t achieve the purpose.”
And so now, after a lifetime of collecting, he’s practicing the art of letting go.