A stainless-steel “Scholar’s Rock” by Chinese artist Zhan Wang.
Ask Madelyn Jordon and she’ll tell you that choosing art for her eponymous Scarsdale gallery and choosing art for her Scarsdale home are two distinct endeavors. She’s quick to point out that her house isn’t a mirror image of what she exhibits in town.
“Of course I won’t show anything in the gallery that I don’t personally admire or respect, but art is individual,” says the owner of Madelyn Jordon Fine Art. “The things my husband and I have collected are objects and works that have spoken to us and not necessarily what I show in the gallery.”
What speaks to Jordon is modern and contemporary art, which she expertly blends with often neutral furnishings and accessories in the home she shares with her investment-advisor husband, David. “Galleries are generally a white box because you want to focus on the art; you don’t want anything else to distract you,” she says. “However, our home is where we live so we have to make it comfortable.” Over the past 20 years, the Jordons have tastefully woven the artwork they’ve collected into the fabric of their home. Their interiors seamlessly blend modern pieces by art-world A-listers such as Andy Warhol, Ross Bleckner, and Jenny Holzer with their tasteful and treasured furnishings, from a Nancy Corzine art deco-style game table with ivory inlays to a circa 1920 jewel-colored divan inherited from David’s grandmother.
Jordon recalls buying her first painting during her sophomore year at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. While she wound up pursuing a career in law, she was always interested in art, often visiting galleries in SoHo with David when they were newlyweds living in Manhattan. “We weren’t real collectors at the time, but we were always looking.”
The Jordons started buying art in earnest in the early 1980s. One of their first major purchases, a Tom Blackwell photorealist painting called Cinema I, Cinema II, now hangs over the custom-made De Angelis cream-colored silk couch in their living room. By the time the couple moved into their Scarsdale home in 1988, they had the beginnings of a serious collection.
At the time, Jordon was pregnant with their third daughter (now a junior in college), so the couple made plans to expand their two-bedroom ranch. “We never designed the house to fit the art. We just made a comfortable home and that incorporated putting art on the walls.”
She and her husband hired Pleasantville architect/builder Arnold Wile to remodel their home, raising the roof and creating a five-bedroom, 5,500-square-foot, white clapboard contemporary with a first-floor master-bedroom suite that includes a dressing room and a study. They also worked with two young disciples of the renowned Manhattan architectural firm of Shelton, Mindel & Associates to add edgier details, such as a soaring double-height entryway and a wall of windows in the living room that overlooks their acre of property. The view is quite lovely; the Jordons recently added a pool with an infinity-edge spa and waterfall as well as a formal French garden, both designed by the Bedford-based landscape architectural firm of Benedek & Ticehurst.
It was during the huge undertaking of transforming their home that Jordon seriously began to consider the art world as a second career. She spent much of her spare time at galleries and museums, reading about art, and taking art courses. In 1991, she opened her first gallery in TriBeCa with a friend; after several years, she opted to strike out on her own and move her business to Westchester. She initially operated from home as a consultant, earning, at night, a master’s degree in museum studies and art history from New York University. In 2001, she opened a gallery in downtown Scarsdale and moved to her current space four years ago. Her focus is primarily contemporary art.
A growing number of works by artists Jordon has long admired—and many she has spotlighted in her gallery—have made their way onto the walls of her own home, showing up above the Vermont farm table in her sleek kitchen and astride the 19th-century French mahogany table in her formal dining room, and behind the oversized Americh tub in the master bathroom. Artist Ted Larsen’s expressionist-style landscape in heavily textured yellow, blue, and green pastels hangs over the gold-toned Baker sectional sofa in the family room. On a nearby mantle of the entertainment cabinet stands a trio of ruby-red Mouna Chamariq ceramic sculptures in shapes and forms derived from the artist’s Moroccan heritage. Jordon recently displayed Chamariq’s work in an exhibition entitled “All Fired Up,” a countywide celebration of clay.
The Jordons’ taste is eclectic. Pop works such as Andy Warhol’s painting “Peter Brant’s Dog” (Brant is publisher of Warhol’s Interview magazine) finds a place in the family room, near a modernist portrait from the early 1900s by artist Francis Mix and a pair of Jacques Majorelle silver-point prints of Morocco from the 1920s. Eclectic furnishings offset the diverse art: two French 19th-century mahogany chairs were reupholstered in leopard-print velour and a rustic Adirondack table adorned with hemlock, tiger maple, and antlers. (Created by artisan George Jaques, it was the Jordons’ first piece of handmade studio furniture.) Beautiful Stark carpeting in deep earth tones, Schumacher grasscloth wallpaper, and beige cotton curtains by Brunschwig & Fils help create a neutral background so art pops.
“Jordon’s style is a mix of modern and classic,” says interior designer Lisa LaReau Katz, owner of Scarsdale-based LaReau Interiors and a partner at Fiorenza Decorators in Bronxville. “She has a forward eye, because she really does have a vision.”
While Jordon never has bought art to match her furnishings, she says, “I’m mindful of my spaces and don’t just buy art in a vacuum. If I have an eight-foot ceiling, I’m not going to buy a ten-foot painting. I also would never put a purple-and-yellow painting over a red couch.” Then Jordon, a true art lover, stops for a moment. “If I really loved that purple-and-yellow painting,” she says with a smile, “I’m sure I’d find another place to put it.”
MADELYN JORDON’S TIPS FOR LIVING WITH ART
Buy what you love as opposed to buying as an investment. “I know that, regardless of the investment potential, I’m still going to have something I love as opposed to artwork that just was supposed to be worth something”.
Don’t purchase art to match your décor. “You should choose a piece of art because it speaks to you and because it gives you a lot of pleasure. The enjoyment of your art will outlast the furniture.”
Use a professional to help place art at its best advantage. “Placing art is an art form in itself.”
Beware of the conditions in which you place your art. Make sure not to put works on paper or photographs in direct sunlight.
Good lighting makes a difference. Properly lit pieces are tremendously enhanced.
Rotate your art so you’ll never be bored. “After a painting sits in a certain space for a couple of years, I might say, ‘I’m ready for a change. Let’s move something around.’ And we do.”
Educate your kids. “We’ve had art since my children were babies. I’ve never had a child damage anything, because I taught them early on how to respect and treat artwork.”
Work with a good art dealer. “A gallery owner can be on hand to advise, educate, and assist you in navigating the art world. We come across things every day and can keep an eye out for what would be right for you.”
Laura Joseph Mogil is a freelance writer residing in Briarcliff Manor. She is a frequent contributor to Westchester Home, Westchester Magazine, and the New York Times. You can read more of her work on her website at lauramogil.com.
Photography by Thomas Moore