Jeri Lynch’s collection of characters each has its own story to tell.
When Jeri Lynch says “I have a passion for people,” she means it. The designer opened up her home in Kahala for “people watching” of 267 art pieces she affectionately calls “her people.”
Each piece is as colorful as their collector. There are her “mail order” people including a vibrant Jim Wagner oil painting of a woman and a cat sitting in a chair that measures 60×48. It’s been a personal favorite since Lynch’s mom sent her a photo of the painting back in 1999.
As she tells the story, “I ordered it but did not mention it to my husband, Jerry. I hung it in our living room and awaited Jerry’s reaction. Jer had to walk by the painting several times each day. But he never noticed it. Five days went by. Finally, he saw some packing materials in the garage and asked if I had purchased something. I said, ‘You’ve been walking by it for the past five days.’”
“The name of the painting— ‘Sometimes, He’s Gone for Weeks on End’—says it all,” she chuckles.
“I love [the painting]. Sometimes he is gone for weeks on end. Five days!” Then with a knowing look, she adds, “You’re married, you know.”
The couple shares an appreciation for art and humor. In their master bathroom, a striking Murano glass sculpture that they’ve nicknamed “Flying Boobs” commands attention. She was a surprise Christmas gift 10 years ago from Jerry to Jeri (they also share the same first name) from a trip to Italy. “I desperately wanted to bring her home,” says Jeri, “But Jerry felt she was too fragile and heavy.”
Christmas morning came and lo and behold there was “Flying Boobs.” “Truly the most surprised I’ve ever been” she recalls. “Sometimes, I look around and see faces everywhere. Each one has special meaning. The playful aspect of art makes me smile.”
Anyone would smile looking at a 28×21 screen print of actor Jack Nicholson hanging in the hallway. “Jack just made me laugh. His eyebrows would make anyone laugh,” says Jeri, who notes a resemblance between Jack’s eyebrows and husband Jerry’s.
There are cheeky pieces, as in perfectly rounded derriere “busts” hanging upstairs on their master bathroom walls. Downstairs in sight of the kitchen table, there are two tongue-in-cheek reminders to keep eating in check— a smiling nude sculpture of a chunky Asian woman created by Honolulu-born sculptor Esther Shimazu and a painting of an overweight woman spilling out of her bikini on the beach.
That was another find by Jeri’s mom, Deonne Larsen, who’s also a painter with two watercolor works on display in her daughter’s home. There’s an elegant woman in a polka-dot dress on a porch and two sisters in hats sharing a moment that was inspired by a birthday card.
“Art has been a part of my life,” reflects Jeri about the art appreciation passed on by her mother that she’s given to her own three children. “Nothing makes me happier than when they say, ‘Mom, do you think I can have that painting?’”
That wasn’t always the case for Corey, Mackenzie and Riley growing up, surrounded by Mom’s nudes, or “naughty” people. “When my son, Corey, was young, his friend Patrick said, ‘Why do your parents have all these nude things on the wall?’ Corey said, ‘It’s art.’”
Another awkward art encounter came courtesy of a Cherry Daniels painting called “Nude on Pink Porch” hanging over the dinner table, in plain view of a priest. “As we all sat down, it was a bit embarrassing, but he didn’t seem to mind,” shares Jeri, before adding, “When I told my mother-in-law the story, she was horrified.”
It’s all about humor for this collector. She playfully took a Mark Ulriksen giclée called “The Women,” that depicts women with strong reactions to a mystery scenario, renamed it “Did You Zip,” and hung it in the powder room.
Her 267-piece collection ranges from a 700-pound solid jade Inuksuk from Alaska to a stunning 84×60 Miguel Martinez oil painting from New Mexico to a whimsical Tim Nguyen painting of a local man carrying a cooler and Heineken to a tic-tac-toe set framed in acrylic. In her eyes, “I see art everywhere, it’s not a matter of price.”
In fact, she does not collect as an investment, merely for appreciation. That’s why a famous George Rodrigue is signed to mark an anniversary. When asked why she would do that, she responds, “Could you sell your children?”
Lynch calls her children her favorite people, but you won’t find framed family photos everywhere in her home. Only family portraits painted by Louisville artist Shane Hull. When the time comes, she says her kids will inherit her people. She’s cataloged them in a book called 267 People – The Collection because she jokes, “I’m pretty sure there isn’t an old folks home big enough for all 268 of us.”
“When I say they’re my people, they really are,” explains Lynch. “They just make me really happy to look around and see them and their stories.”