In 2009 the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center received 50 pieces of art that, regardless of works included or artists represented, had already achieved a certain level of fame rarely reached in the art world.
Were they stolen? No. Lost and recently found? Negative on that as well.
Rather, these 50 works were from a very private collection belonging to two pretty normal folks, Herb and Dorothy Vogel.
Over the course of 40 years, the Vogels amassed 4,000 pieces of artwork from contemporary artists and stored them in every nook and cranny of their tiny Manhattan apartment. Their efforts were filmed in the 2008 documentary Herb & Dorothy, which explores the keen eye the Vogels had for selecting art, and the way they devoted one of their salaries to paying for it.
"The Vogels were of modest means, of modest employ: a librarian and postal worker," says FAC museum director Blake Milteer. "Yet they collected works by artists who are actively and aggressively changing the scope of the world. [The Vogels] were an integral part of [the artists] getting noticed."
Eventually their apartment would prove too small for the massive collection, and Herb and Dorothy would be forced to find their art a new home.
In 1990, the couple gifted several thousand pieces to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and later broke thousands more into smaller sets for distribution throughout the country. Fifty Works for Fifty States was born with the idea of finding a single art institution in every state as the permanent home for 50 Vogel collection pieces.
Which brings us back the FAC, which in 2009 was selected to house Colorado's gift and agreed to exhibit all the works together within five years. The FAC's portion includes pieces by Adam Fuss, Richard Tuttle and Will Barnet, recently awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama.
Herb Vogel died last year, but the couple's collection and legacy lives on. As Milteer puts it: "Anyone can do this."