<b>Join an Art Community</b> “For some people, it’s about the kill in acquiring a work,” says Shanitha Kachan. “For us, it’s about the journey.” The erudite and congenial Kachan is explaining the genesis of the collection she and her husband, Gerald Sheff (co-founder of the investment firm Gluskin Sheff), started after they married in 1999 and how when it comes to making purchases, “the education comes first and the art comes after.”
The couple’s inaugural purchase was <i>Fantasia for Four Hands</i> by Canadian artist Rodney Graham, a work that quickly became “an anchor” in their newly built, Bruce Kuwabara-designed home. But then, Kachan and Sheff spent two years looking at blank walls before they decided what would come next. “We knew where we wanted to go,” says Kachan, “but we weren’t sure how we were going to get there.”
The period coincided with Kachan’s transition from corporate sales (at William Ashley) to the world of art, as she began to volunteer for the Canadian Art Foundation—a move she counts as integral to her becoming a collector. “It takes time to connect with art,” says Kachan, “and we are all so busy.” But, she explains, if you join an art community, either by donating your time or by becoming a gallery member, you will develop a sense of confidence, as you meet people with similar interests and start putting faces to artists’ names.
By 2003, Kachan’s newly minted art knowledge led her and Sheff to their next significant buys: a painting by the British artist Jason Martin and a collaborative piece by Liam Gillick and the Scottish Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon. When they looked at the works alongside <i>Fantasia for Four Hands</i>, it was a harmonious aha moment. “We saw how the works spoke to one another,” says Kachan, “and decided, let’s keep moving, let’s keep learning.”Sara Angel