COLLECTOR PROFILE: Betz Bernhard and Hugh Davis

  • We chatted with collector and artist Betz Bernhard and her husband Hugh Davis 
    about their intuitive approach to collecting art, and their comically differing opinions
    about the pieces they collect. Their two dogs greeted us with cheerful energy
    at their beautiful home in Kirkland, and we got a taste of
    their curated contemporary art style. 
  • “Hugh and I have very heated discussions about the art that we collect because we often disagree about it. What...

    Hugh Davis and Betz Bernhard in their living room surrounded by their art collection.

    “Hugh and I have very heated 

    discussions about the art that

    we collect because we often

    disagree about it. 


    What we often do is take turns.

    He gets to choose a piece and then

    the next piece is my decision.

    occasionally we’ll come up with a

    piece that we both like.” 

    – Betz Bernhard

  • Q & A

    Q: Where did you grow up?
    A:  Betz: I grew up on Long Island, about an hour outside New York City.
    My parents lived in a house that my father built looking over the Long Island Sound.
    They traveled a lot and collected art for as long as I can remember,
    so I grew up with a lot of cool stuff around the around.
    Q: How does your own art practice influence what you collect?
    A: Betz: I think it’s intuitive. Just as making my art is intuitive so is collecting.
    When I see a piece I know immediately whether or not I feel something about it.
    It’s extremely intuitive. So in that sense making art and collecting are very related.
  • Q: Tell us about a significant piece in your collection.
    A: Betz: When I first came to Seattle one of my first friend’s was the artist
    Joe Max Emminger and he would come over and talk about art.
    In fact, Jo was just beginning to paint and I remember going to his house
    and looking at some of his early paintings and I remember looking at
    one painting in particular that now hangs in our hallway and thinking
    “Wow, Jo has made a very big leap in his work and it’s beautiful”.
    Q: What philosophy would you pass on to a new collector?
    A: Betz: Just go with your gut. Buy art that makes your soul sing.
    Q: What is on your wishlist to collect next?
    A: Betz: Actually we recently bought a piece by Terry Terrell which
    had been on both Hugh and I’s wishlist for quite a while. So right now
    I don’t have any one thing in mind, but I know I’ll see a show,
    and something will just hit me.
    Q: How did you and Hugh first meet?
    A: Betz: It’s a funny story because Hugh and I first met in the personals.
    After I got divorced I had a hard time meeting people, so I put a personal ad
    in the Seattle weekly and I ran it for about year.
    Hugh: Her personal said she was an artist and that was something I was
    specifically looking for. I wanted a relationship in which discussing art and
    aesthetic issues was not forbidden. We don’t argue very much, but we do
    argue about art. And it’s important that those issues matter to both of us,
    even if we disagree.
    Betz: We argue really heatedly about art.
    Hugh: There have been artists that I was interested in and sometimes for years
    in advance of actually buying a piece, I would be trying to decide between a
    couple of pieces that were available and having Betz’s different perspective
    always enabled me to make the best choice.
  • IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (center) one of three in the series entitled ORWELLIAN STEEL by Holly Ballard Martz installed at ZINC...

    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (center) one of three in the series entitled ORWELLIAN STEEL

    by Holly Ballard Martz installed at ZINC contemporary

  • “‘Ignorance Is Strength’ combines truth and beauty

    in a perfect meme for the current administration.

    When I saw it – the piece touched me so deeply – I wanted

    this piece and I wanted to support Holly Ballard Martz

    and her message by collecting it.”

    – Betz Bernhard
  • IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH by Holly Ballard Martz installed in the Davis / Bernhard home. Request a listing of available works...

    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH by Holly Ballard Martz installed in the Davis  / Bernhard home.


    Request a listing of available works by Holly Ballard Martz


    Betz’s collector philosophy:


    “Just go with your gut. Buy art that makes your soul sing.”


  • Collectors choice

    • Holly Ballard Martz, Land of the Free (Shakedown), 2018
      Holly Ballard Martz, Land of the Free (Shakedown), 2018
    • Sofia Arnold, Living Picture, 2018
    • Holly Ballard Martz, Trophy for Tyranny (Tarnished Reputation), 2019
      Holly Ballard Martz, Trophy for Tyranny (Tarnished Reputation), 2019


    In direct response to the imbalance in the art world,
    ZINC contemporary is committed to the mission of
    making female artists VISIBLE AND SUCCESSFUL, while
    making art collecting an experience of curiosity,
    connection and fun!