Carole Tanenbaum, A Lesson in Humility

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In Toronto, society is constricted by formality and convention, parochial. In New York, we hang our washing out, you always want to one-up the next person. It’s just two different cultures. I had some adjustment to make when I arrived in Toronto in 1966 as a new bride.

Carole Granick met Howard Tanenbaum on a bus trip through Italy. He got bumped from first class to coach but, as they say, “there is always a silver lining”. In his case, he met a life partner.

Nurtured by her family’s bohemian and artistic lifestyle, Carole Tanenbaum inherited her father’s collector gene. He was a highly respected art critic and framer for museums and art collections. To this day, a Max Granick’s art frame is a noted feature of an art piece. He believed that to be beautiful, something had to be imperfect — even his daughter’s perfectly coiffed, prom-ready hairdo, which he would mess up just as she was stepping out (“He used to drive me crazy! But he was right.”).

Her New York roots inform her love of bold, colourful, large jewelry (her favourite period is the Hollywood years) but behind it hides a great humility, a humanity and realness which she says was passed on from her grandparents who immigrated from Russia and Poland. Although large, her home has the wonderful vintage feel of a family home that has not changed much since “the kids left home,” is replete with extraordinary art and yet homey and welcoming. You sense that the art is collected because it’s loved and displayed to please the owners rather than in accordance with some canons of art display.

As a collector, you can’t keep it going forever — at a certain point, certain collections die. The pieces become too expensive or not around anymore, the joy in the hunt is no longer there. The hunt is an important part of collecting — it’s the thrill.

Once a collection dies, you gift it. When you love something so much you want to donate it to share the emotional bond because you are still attached to it even when you are no longer collecting — the collection will be loved again when given to an institution.”

The heart of the jewelry collection is located in a small office on the first floor — drawers and drawers of perfectly arranged and labelled pieces that she displays with respect and love. You sense her great attachment to each one of them — the makers, and the story of how she came by it.

Instagram was invented for Carole Tanenbaum — she feeds her account herself every day at the crack of dawn. Her selection reflects her humanity and boldness, an outlet for her voracious collector impulse and sharp, witty eye. Through images of people and objects, landscape and jewelry, she is telling Canadian women to dare be themselves, take a chance, embrace imperfection with gusto and make it beautiful.

I loved interviewing Carole Tanenbaum and you can watch part of the interview in this video. You can visit Carole Tanenbaum’s website and her Instagram account.

This post was not sponsored and I do not receive compensation for purchases you might make from the artist.