As the editors of Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to bring you Glen Helfand’s essay on collector Jeff Dauber and the importance of art education. Dauber notes, “I know someone who has three massive homes, a private jet, multiple cars, about a hundred horses—and not one single piece of art. And he could go out and buy any damn thing he wants—with the change he finds in his dryer. He didn’t grow up around art. He wasn’t exposed.” This article was originally published on August 18, 2014, on our sister site Art Practical. Enjoy!
Jeff Dauber is a brash, outspoken, and abundantly tattooed collector who also happens to work in tech. He’s been deeply engaged in both sectors for over twenty years and immersed in art since childhood. By trade, he is an electrical engineer who has long worked in Silicon Valley. He manages large production teams, a well-paying position in a flush field. During his career, he’s worked for more than one major company in the South Bay, as he does currently, though when I interviewed him about his collecting practice, his one stipulation was that his current employer remain unstated. It’s corporate policy, he says, and we’re here to talk about his private collection, not one that represents his industry. Collecting art, however, is difficult to separate from the factors that make it possible. More on that later.
I had seen Dauber’s collection before, back in 2006 when I wrote about the renovation of his Potrero Hill home by architect Thom Faulders, who created a stylized, futuristic ceiling because Dauber put a premium on wall space for his art. I recall paintings by Travis Somerville and Chester Arnold, and outlandish, grotesquely oversized fake flower and taxidermy arrangements by David Hevel. In the ensuing eight years, Dauber’s collection has matured and expanded, and he’s moved into a second home around the corner (also spiffed up by Faulders) where he lives with his art. He keeps the original house to display and store his collection; it’s cheaper, he admits, than keeping it in a professional storage facility.