Tags: art | painting | collection

The World's Greatest, Most Discriminating Art Collector: Me

The World's Greatest, Most Discriminating Art Collector: Me
(Tom Messner)

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 04:05 PM Current | Bio | Archive

That painting above is not a Kandinsky or a Pollock. It is a Charles Gessner, my brother-in-law, an executive for Nassau County, New York, and a student at the Art Students League in Manhattan in his third decade of study. I was so admiring of this, his first piece, that I asked him to do another and he did. Not many people have two Gessners hanging in their apartment.

I also have a landscape from the late commercial director David Elliot whom I often worked with. It is a scene from Ocean Beach, Fire Island, his favorite retreat from me and Madison Avenue.


The largest piece I own hangs in what we call our family room. It adorns (truly) a wall opposite our humongous TV and is larger than that Samsung, but much, much less expensive.


Yet even in the face of that comparison, this abstract work is the most costly piece we own: easily four thousand in old 20th Century dollars. We won a hard fought auction for it at a fund-raiser for the Gaynor School on the West Side of Manhattan. It is a work not merely by one or even two artists but the entire 5th Grade Class working in concert and competition.

We also have a couple of collages by my son’s father-in-law, David Jordon, and a poster done by a child whose school was adjacent to the Twin Trade Tower. He captured the horror he saw on September 11, 2001, in a youthful and spell-binding six-foot high work of one of the towers after being hit.

Our catalog includes a miniature too, perhaps the oldest work in the collection. The painter? One of the parents of my son’s third grade classmate at St. David’s School on 89th Street, just a palette’s throw from the Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue.

Michael Koulermos, an advertising art director and fund raiser for veterans causes, painted a Marilyn Monroe portrait and we seized on it in a silent auction Michael held for Ad Vets for War Vets.

Another art director and one of my first bosses in the ad business, Bob Kuperman, contributed a subdued (in its monotones) abstraction that perfectly matches the décor in our guest room in Florida. Best of all it was a gift from him, free and clear, acquired for $0.00.

The final piece in our collection of works done by people we know and love and/or admire I present here with some trepidation as it is only a potential addition.

I gave the drawing its title: “The Dino & Harry’s Hoboken Dinner Group: An Unfinished Symphony or a Work In Progress by Ron Travisano.” Ron is a great advertising art director, commercial director, and painter, illustrator, and sculptor. He is a prolific worker even today almost 60 years after leaving art school.

I framed the drawing which he sent to all the subjects including himself (I’m the one with five fingers to wind and the other hand holding the martini glass), but I am not taking full possession of it. He told me it was indeed “a work in progress” and not really worthy of display. Yet.

For me, I would propose him to do the suddenly controversial presidential portraits when the Trumps leave D.C. in 2025.

But in any case here it is and I hope I get two or three commenters on this site to attest to its worth in its present form. Maybe Ron will relent and let me keep it. In an honored place, of course, right next to the Gessners.


Tom Messner worked forever in advertising. In politics, he avoided the predictable negative bent and did positive ads for Reagan in ’84 and for Bush in ’88 along with Bush’s convention film. The agency he co-founded created NASDAQ’s first branding, Volvo’s comeback, and Fox News’s “We report. You Decide.” Then learning from the pols he partnered with (Roger Ailes in particular), they brought attack ads to such formerly benign areas such as telecom (MCI). At 73, he’s doing two things he never did before: Blogging here on wildly unconnected subjects coming on the heels of last year’s adventure: the writing of his first play, a musical “Dogs” destined now for either Broadway or The Pound. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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That painting above is not a Kandinsky or a Pollock. It is a Charles Gessner, my brother-in-law, an executive for Nassau County, New York, and a student at the Art Students League in Manhattan in his third decade of study.
art, painting, collection
Tuesday, 20 February 2018 04:05 PM
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