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Art Made for Keeps

Art Made for Keeps
WRITER: 
PHOTOGRAPHER: 
May 2019

Michele Seekings' Spire Art Services helps collectors care for their priceless works



Michele Seekings measures a piece of art for a Spire Art Services client.

Michele Seekings had just launched Spire Art Services when a two-alarm fire on Smith Street, just around the corner from her home, put the necessity of her enterprise into sharp focus. Her company, named for Charleston’s church steeples which helped sailors navigate into port, was designed to help art lovers safeguard, organize, and navigate their priceless collections. And it helped save her own artworks when the neighboring blaze caused smoke damage, requiring expert cleaning, conservation, and reframing.

“Having a catalogue of your collection is invaluable should you find yourself in a position where it’s damaged or compromised,” affirms the former pharmaceuticals representative.

In 2017, Seekings decided to reorganize her own life and help other art lovers in the process. “I was ready to do something on my own, something I’m really passionate about,” says the avid collector, Gibbes Museum of Art board member, and Halsey Institute of Contemporary and Redux Contemporary Art Center patron. “If I needed this service, then other people needed it, too.”

That service is cataloguing, consulting, and even moving all things art. Private collectors comprise the bulk of Spire’s clientele. As one of her clients, Susan Porter says, “Her organizational skills are the best in the business.”

“People say ‘I don’t have that kind of collection,’” says Seekings, who contends that the importance of one’s art is “not about having a Picasso or a Renoir.” Often, it’s the story behind a piece that determines its worth, Seekings adds, “Especially in this day and age where we’re always talking about organization and simplifying our lives.” For that, Spire is here to organize art collections for the 21st century and beyond.

Archivist in Action - The process of cataloguing a precious art collection for generations to come

- Take inventory of all the pieces.
- Photograph everything and take dimensions.
- Interview collectors about the background of each piece.
- Catalogue every item into an index including: title, artist, dimensions, date, placement (ie. kitchen of Charleston home, dining room of NYC loft), appraised value, and notes.
- Create a professional coffee table book or magazine-style catalogue of the collection.

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Photographs by (installation) courtesy of Michele Seekings