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June 2015 - Houston

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JUNE | PAGE 39 | 2015 estate. "David got it before anybody appreciated Nakashima," he says. "We put our feet up on it. It's worn and scratched, probably put there by Warhol and his entourage. It might even still have blow on it, and who knows what else …" The townhouse next door, which Lackey purchased in 1999 and used as offices for his antiques business, now serves as overflow for his obsessions. Each man also has a separate studio space for making art. Among the hundreds of oddities in a room they call the cabinet of curiosities (which Lackey sometimes refers to as "the chamber of horrors") are a stuffed ferret, fossils, an ostrich egg, horns, a study drawing of skulls, artifacts from primitive African cultures, old porcelains and paintings. "Cabinets of curiosities," Lackey notes, "were the precursors to museums, with origins going back to the Renaissance," when wealthy travelers would fill cabinets or entire rooms with interesting objects brought back from romps around the world. The idea wasn't to create a true collection, per se, but to cultivate a unique and divergent assortment of things. "Every surface in this room is covered with objects that are carefully displayed and grouped relating to texture, mood or feel," he says. "I have things that are 2,000 years old and things that are only a year or two old. They can be man-made, from nature or whatever." P rince and Lackey may have their decorating differences, but they agree on this: Old things tell great stories. "On the Roadshow, what viewers are most interested in is not the price; it's the stories behind the object," Lackey says. "When I decide to bring things home for my own collection, the value is not a high priority at all. I ask, 'Is the story interesting? Does it fit into our lives and interiors?'" For Prince, an attraction for old and faded objects started with visits to his great grandmother's dilapidated Victorian house in Italy, Texas. "I was fascinated by the stained wallpaper, gray floor boards, the old trinkets she had," he remembers. "She was quite old at the time, and I remember her siting in a room rocking in a chair. It was eerie and wonderful at the same time; there were no carpets on the floors, so everything echoed. There was this clock on the wall, and all you'd hear is tick tock, tick tock." When Prince was old enough to drive, he'd head to junk shops and antiques stores in Fort Worth, where his family lived. "I'd come across sheet music, old letters, books with old cloth covers worn by hand and use. I was fascinated by what people leave behind." For the last 20 years, Prince has incorporated paper ephemera — handwritten letters, typewritten invoices — along with old photographs into his collages. "In all my work, time is a very important element. The cycle of life, the way material possessions wither like we do." It's the graphic aspect of these things that intrigues him. "When I look at these materials," he says, "they become color texture and pattern and line" rather than words or numbers on a page. "It becomes a basic art-making experience. A lot of people ask, 'What does this word mean?' To me, it's just pattern; it's not a word. It's the energy the composition needed." In November, his works were shown at The Jung Center in Houston and included collages and graphic displays of old books. Lackey, who grew up in small towns throughout West Texas and New Mexico, became interested in antiques and art through the stories behind them. "I loved history and was a big reader. It was that connection I had with antiques," he says. At age 12, he started buying old toys and models at garage and estate sales, then sold them for a 5- or 10-cent profit later at his own garage sales. By the time he was a senior at Baylor University, he was an expert dealer. "I'd run around and buy things, then drive across town and sell them to another dealer. My senior year, my father gave me two semesters of money to manage. By mid-year, I was totally out. I made a quick $500, hustling antiques." In 1985, he liquidated a collection of antiques he'd been selling at a booth in an antiques mall in Houston to pay for two years' study with Christie's in London, where he specialized in pottery and porcelains. "It changed my whole life," he says. Back home in the States, PBS came calling. "They were rustling up appraisers for the U.S. show. I was already familiar with it, because it had been airing in England for 10 years," he says. Nineteen years and dozens of cities later, he continues to travel and appraise with the Emmy Award-winning show. I n 2007, inspired by Prince's artwork, Lackey tried his own hand at it and was quickly picked up by Devin Borden Gallery. He started with the things that interested him most — eyes, hands and feet — cutting them from antique photographs and book illustrations and framing them in antique frames. Inspired in part by the tiny hand-painted eyes from Georgian- era "lovers' eyes" lockets, Lackey's framed eyes are mesmerizing. "When you put half or a quarter of a face in a frame, it looks completely different. You can read emotions that way, from anger to despair to joy." Of late, he's been incorporating other elements, such Clockwise from top left: Lackey's room of curiosities includes a Japanese tansu and an antique Louis Vuitton trunk. His assemblages hang on the wall alongside folk art and work by other Texas artists, including a drawing of skulls by Harry Worthman. Russell Prince in his studio, surrounded by his own works. Lackey's room of curiosities: The desk and room are encrusted with an assortment of old objects. Lackey in his studio, with his work on the wall at center. Above his inspiration board are two vintage paintings, one by Texas artist Robert Preusser.

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