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I often find the living spaces of artists to be just as inspiring and interesting as their work in a gallery. It makes sense; artists are trained to transform everyday objects and ideas into extraordinary creations. They always have interesting perspectives on space and design, as well as impressive art collections of their own.

One such recent visit was to the home of Stewart Watson and Jim Vose. They live above Area 405, a cavernous warehouse exhibition space in Baltimore’s Station North Arts District, with their son, Pullman and a giant Great Dane, Ava. The building was originally a window-shade factory on East Oliver Street and, over the past ten years, the couple has carved out a living space in the top floor that manages to be both cozily warm and extravagantly huge. As expected, their art collection is fascinating.

Stewart and Jim are both sculptors, so their work hangs in various states of completion around the place, with a large circular sculpture by Vose in the great room. Besides their own work, the couple collects work voraciously and utilizes much of their wall space displaying it. There’s an eclectic mix of art in every niche and corner.

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In the large open space that functions as a great room (living, dining, and play area), a giant paper and wood sculpture of an antique airplane hangs from the ceiling over a kitchen table. Created by Laura Schultz, the plane is approximately six feet long and can be lit up from the inside, the most dramatic ‘chandelier’ I have ever seen. It would be way too big for most residences, but it has ample room to breathe in Stewart and Jim’s home. Nearby, balanced in a window sill sits ‘The Duck,’ a cartoon-esque painting by Rick Borg. There are several other works of art displayed on the ceiling of the great room, including shaped painting by Tom Dixon.

Travelling through their main hallway, my eye is drawn to a colorful, geometric abstract painting by Tim Horjus, a tall abstract drawing by Jason Hughes, paired with a signed Warhol lithograph of a cow, a wall installation featuring a mod-looking number 6 by Jason Irla, as well as many family photos and a tiny ancestral portrait by Helen Elliot.

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Some of my other favorite pieces were found in and around the couple’s bedroom, with a graffiti-esque painting of a frog by Frank Perrelli, Stewart’s favorite, another, smaller cartoon figure by Tom Dixon, and an intimate, white painting with several floating circles by Jan Razauskus.

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Although the couple favors contemporary work by local artists, there’s no single style that dominates the collection. Rather than selecting work based on specific visual criteria, Stewart and Jim purchase, trade, and borrow works of art that appeal to them personally, for a number of reasons. Their confidence in selecting the works they like best translates into the way the collection can be viewed as a whole: multi-faceted, eclectic, intelligent, and edgy, which seems like an apt metaphor for their unique living space.

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