Dr. Douglas Arbittier has not only accumulated a renowned collection of antique medical and surgical artifacts from both the United States and Europe but also built them their own building on his York property.
His dedication exemplifies the sort of collector's passion Bambi Long was hoping to showcase when she decided YorkArts should try a different kind of fundraiser 15 years ago.
Long was initially inspired by a Baltimore magazine article.
"Five art museum guards were asked to choose a painting in the gallery that they had seen for many years and explain why, out of all of the paintings, it was their favorite," she writes in an email. "I felt it would be an exciting event to have a one-night gallery opening in York with the art coming from private York residences. The evening would promote the idea of collecting original art and the owners' stories would allow the viewer to see the art through the eyes of the collector."
A retrospective: This year, Art in Residence celebrates its 15th year by gathering some of the most memorable pieces from previous years in a retrospective, highlighting collectors and the stories behind the pieces they choose.
Long starts with her own story. She and her husband, George, started their York art collection after their honeymoon.
"George and I began collecting art in 1971, the summer after we returned from our honeymoon in Portugal," she writes. "We were exposed to a York artist, Virgil Sova, who spent his summers in Portugal painting. We were drawn to his bold lines and brilliant colors. We purchased the pastel 'Mending Nets.'"
Other Art in Residence pieces also have a local and international link. Bill and Kim Kerlin are lending local artist Gerald Davidson's "Lady of the Lake." They discovered it at the Blue Moon and were impressed with what Davidson, from Zimbabwe, could do with glass.
Fundraiser: Art in Residence is not only a chance to raise money for YorkArts program and to meet and support local artists but also a rare opportunity to share the perspective of the collector. Long is proud that the tradition continues to be a theme for the night.
"(Art in Residence) has never lost sight of the original concept of sharing treasured art from personal collectors and knowing that the perspective of the collector is a very important part of its worth," she writes.
While pieces by well-known artists may be included -- such as Ted and Jonell Hake's "The Love for Three Oranges," one of the largest watercolors ever painted by artist and author Maurice Sendak -- what the Longs and YorkArts are trying to do is to build local relationships and inspire interest in students and community members who visit the gallery or attend the gala.
"We continue to purchase art when we travel, but we have a wonderful bond with many local artists who we purchase art from and (we) love to promote these talented artists in the community," Long writes. "George and I and our friends frequent YorkArts often and attend their events. George and I had the pleasure of leading groups of students through the gallery and were excited by their interest and questions."
Rare items: YorkArts volunteer Kelley Gibson is pleased that a one-of-a-kind miniature scale model of local artist and designer Peter Danko's EcoEden chair will be raffled. Danko's pieces are featured in the Cooper Hewitt Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Gibson also expects attendees to be especially interested in a rare chance to see part of Arbittier's collection of vintage medical equipment, some of which dates back to the 17th century. A private tour, which will be available as an item in the silent auction, usually must be arranged to view any of the pieces.
"It's an amazingly beautiful building. People come from all over," Gibson says. "(The collection) fascinates you."
-- Reach Michelle Denise Norton at 854-1575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Going to the show
YorkArts will hold the 15th annual Art in Residence from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at The Bon-Ton corporate offices, 2801 E. Market St.
Admission is $65 by itself or $100 with an entry in the drawdown.
The drawdown will feature more than $2,000 in cash and prizes. A silent auction offers items including a tour of Dr. Douglas Arbittier's vintage medical equipment museum, original art, jewelry and other items.
Tickets for the EcoEden chair raffle are $5 or five for $20; the winner need not be present.
For more information, call 848-3200 or visit www.yorkarts.org.