Over time, seemingly unimportant events begin to take on a greater significance. Kim and I now know this to be true. After 40 years of taking one step at a time, there is now a vineyard and winery called Bloomer Creek. When we were young, our desire to live as artist and vigneron brought us to the Finger Lakes where we planted vines and built trellis to establish our vineyard. While we worked, we also forged an intimate connection to Bloomer Creek and its hidden poetry.
In my early years at Midtown Payson Galleries in NYC, I often heard stories of the famous art collectors Dorothy and Herbert Vogel. The Vogel’s collection was considered at the time to be the most important post 1960’s art collection in the country. At all glamorous museum and gallery openings, Dorothy and Herbert held sway. Apart from fame as collectors, Dorothy and Herbert Vogel were celebrities because they had put together their prized collection while living on modest incomes as Brooklyn librarian and postal clerk, respectively. The “Proletarian Art Collectors” were unique in the chic world of Manhattan high society because they collected art not for showmanship or tax write-off, but out of passion. For five decades the Vogels chose to live simply - living in a one bedroom apartment, never dining out, never traveling. They chose this because it allowed them to buy art on their limited budget. They frequented galleries and museums and enthusiastically made friends with young, undiscovered artists. When they found artwork they wanted to buy, a payment schedule was arranged, sometimes as little as $10 per month. Their criterion for purchase was that they both liked the work and could carry it home. Eventually established artists discounted their artwork for the Vogels in order to be included in the august "Vogel" collection. Perhaps the most compelling part of this story is the fact that Dorothy and Herbert were never willing to sell parts of their collection to become rich. “We were never interested about that aspect” Herbert is quoted as saying.
Along with their art collection – large enough to require five trucks to move to Washington DC when it was eventually donated to the National Gallery - the Vogels managed to fit eight cats and 20 exotic turtles into their cramped apartment. Tall visitors (the Vogels were both small - around 5 feet) reported hitting their heads on artwork suspended from the ceiling. People who choose to live this way tend to be considered eccentric at best, and if the artwork they collected had not been so valuable, neighbors might have been inclined to call them “hoarders.” In 1992 Dorothy Vogel told the NYTimes – “We didn’t set out to live bizarrely.”
At what point in life can one say that? How many cats does it take to transform someone from being a “cat person” into someone who lives “bizarrely”? Perhaps it was the combination of living with cats, turtles AND famous artwork that was the qualifier for use of the word “bizarre”. Implicit in this question is the necessity to consider events over a period of time, as in - over a period of time the Vogels’ art collection became famous. The Vogels bought their first piece of art to celebrate their wedding. A year later they bought another piece for their anniversary, then - a birthday; a holiday; “just because” - so it went for five decades. Each individual purchase, made over a period of time, eventually turned into a “collection”.
The creation of Bloomer Creek Vineyard evolved in a similar way. The choices made over time – like our willingness to live in an abandoned shack without plumbing or electricity in order to finance a future vineyard – brought us to where we are today. Like Herbert and Dorothy, every choice we made came from our passion to live as artist and vigneron in the verdant countryside of the Finger Lakes region we now call home.