Exhibit at Centre
63 modern art classics on display
by Bradley Hartsell
Last week, the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts held a private reception celebrating the opening of The Cochran Collection: Graphics by 20th Century Masters.
Wes Cochran owns more than 400 pieces of modern art that he has collected since the ‘70s. Cochran was working on an oil rig while his uncle, an art dealer in LaGrange, told him to send money and he would invest in the beginnings of an art collection for Cochran. He may have stumbled into it with good fortune, but Cochran has certainly worked to continue the growth of the collection and has been able to thoroughly enjoy a love and appreciation for art, along with his wife, Missy.
Despite the stunning collection, the Cochrans have earned a reputation for being the most unassuming art collectors alive — Wes is a stonemason and Missy is a recently retired schoolteacher. They live in LaGrange on modest means, but have exquisite taste in fine, modern art.
The Cochran Collection displays 63 pieces currently hung all around the main halls of the Centre. Guests, on the night of the reception, milled about, soaking in the works of Warhol, Dali and Picasso, among many others.
“It’s a lot of fun. You meet a lot of great people,” Cochran said. “This particular show has been on the road since 1985. It’s been all over the country, but I like staying home more nowadays.”
Everyone who was able to speak with Cochran at the reception, instantly beamed over his charismatic charm.
“He’s a character. He’s such a great guy,” says one of the event organizers and secretary for the Centre, Emily Wilkins.
In addition to being a down-to-earth -but-magnetic conversationalist, Cochran is known for his trademark cigar. Wilkins asked if I took a picture of Cochran without his cigar, and when I said I had, she was legitimately surprised. But after nearly 40 years of collecting the best visionaries of all time, it’s expected he might know a few things about presentation.
The Cochran Collection: Graphics by 20th Century Masters is showing at the Centre through Sept. 26.