While censorship was not an issue in his decision to purchase work, Jacobson does admit that he moved two photographs from the collection at the request of others. One was of a young woman in a bikini, standing--in a nonsuggestive pose--in front of a swimming pool. Staff members asked him to relocate the photograph because they thought the subject bore a remarkable resemblance to a woman on staff. The photograph now hangs in the "art closet," where work is stored.
The other photograph, which depicts a sad Christ on the cross, was moved from the wall outside an attorney's office to a public area after the attorney complained that the sight of the photo on such a regular basis was depressing.
Jacobson chuckles to himself, pondering censorship. There is, he admits, an Arizona photographer who makes some wonderful images of nude women in boxes. Would he dare to put such work before his colleagues' eyes? "I have asked myself--I've not answered myself yet--but I've asked myself. . . . I don't know the answer to that."
Maybe, Jacobson says, he "lucked out." The walls are full. So perhaps the question will never have to be answered. Like Lewis and Roca, Snell & Wilmer has, for now, stopped collecting.
@body:When O'Connor Cavanagh relocated in 1985, the firm owned "three pieces of Southwestern art and a few posters," says Hank Timmerman. He was one of three young partners assigned to establish an art collection for the firm.
It was accomplished, as Timmerman says, "in one fell swoop."
When Timmerman told a colleague from another firm of his plan to introduce his associates to 300 pieces of cutting-edge contemporary art, the colleague asked if Timmerman had any guarantee of job security.
He possessed a moderate but vicarious knowledge of art--his wife, Kate, worked at the time at Phoenix Art Museum. Unlike Jacobson and Lewis, Timmerman and his associates didn't consider themselves "art gurus." So O'Connor Cavanagh hired Joan Prior and John Armstrong, who took on the firm as their first consulting job. Prior and Armstrong spent a year traveling to regional art centers, picking more than 300 contemporary pieces to fill conference rooms and hallways.
The collection has been well-received. Docents from Phoenix Art Museum and Scottsdale Center for the Arts have toured it. Even out-of-state tourists get an occasional run-through. And other companies, such as Pinnacle West and Streich Lang, have since hired Prior and Armstrong to create collections for them.
O'Connor Cavanagh's collection is an eclectic mix of abstract, figurative and realistic works by artists from all over, but primarily from the Southwest. Contrary to Orme Lewis' standard, each framable work is encased in mahogany to match the office trim and doorways.
The whole collection went up in a single weekend.
Few of Jack Brown's employees are going to badmouth art chosen by the boss and his wife. But at O'Connor Cavanagh, things were different. Scott Rose, a partner at the firm, recalls the day he and his colleagues were introduced to the collection. Most had no idea what was coming. "It certainly created a stir when it happened, and it went on for a long time," Rose says. "There were some people that were, you know, pretty upset."
Rose emphasizes that he enjoys the collection, though he doesn't love every piece. "Of course," he adds, "you had other people who are more traditionalists in their taste, whether they like ducks and decoys or whether they like cowboys and Indians."
While the subject matter is not, for the most part, jarring, many of the pieces in the O'Connor Cavanagh collection are not button-down material.
Much of the work is abstract, the methods unorthodox. There's a conference room full of Linda Mundwiler's brightly colored "scratchings"--abstracts with the suggestion of landscapes. And then there's a beautiful, orange-and-yellow-hued textile piece, finely stitched over in a random pattern with red thread. Prior explains that the creator, Charles Hill, actually buried the piece underground for a while to add texture and an aged quality.
Rose says the biggest complaint among his colleagues was that the work wasn't "lighter" in tone and subject matter. "You don't want a picture on a piece of art that looks like a woman who just received a legal bill," he says, describing a work depicting an unhappy woman. "I wish I could tell you that that was my quote, but it actually comes from one of my partners." Rose declined to share the name of the partner or the work in question.
Each of O'Connor Cavanagh's conference rooms contains the work of one artist, so viewers can educate themselves by seeing a small body of work. A small, gold plaque outside the door of each room bears the name of each artist.