Stephen Kluck was born and raised in Portage Park on the northwest side of the city of Chicago. He swam, took piano lessons, had a paper route and 3 sisters. He had an early passion for music and wanted to be a concert pianist—taking lessons from the age of 8 until 20. Stephen started swimming around the same time and eventually received a scholarship to Northwestern University for his ability. He also liked building things. With his father’s encouragement—”maybe son you should be a builder or an architect instead of playing the piano for a living”—Stephen became known as the “architect/builder who plays the piano too”.
He started his first business, along with an apprentice, in his early 20s, Interior Millwork—being influenced by his grandfather who was a woodworker from Sisily. Interior Millwork’s focus was architectural custom cabinetry. After 10 years and with 15 employees and a 15,000 square factory, the company was sold. His next venture was The Constructive Improvement Group. CIG designed and renovated old homes, laid out office space and selected furnishings—from top to bottom. The company was later sold during the slipping economy.
Stephen is currently writing a children’s book about a pink tiger named Patrick, and working on a non-profit gallery space.
Neoteric Art: What inspired you to start collecting art?
Stephen Kluck: I starting collecting when I was 24—the same age I started my first business. I purchased my first real piece of art at the Campenelli Gallery after being inspired by a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. It was a serigraph. I liked the colors and the graphic feel of the piece and it holds many memories. The second piece I purchased is by very dear and close friend Jacqueline Moses. Unfortunately I never got to meet Jacqueline at the opening of her show that evening but met her 17 years later and have been close friends ever since—currently owning 4 of her pieces. I also want to mention that 20 years ago I lived a few doors from Howard and Judy Tullman and their collections inspired me immensely.
Over the years it became important to me to try to personally know all the artists that I started collecting and I am happy to report that I’ve been rather successful. I am fortunate enough to feel a closeness with many of them—knowing first-hand their inspiration for being artists. It all starts with me being moved by a piece of art, then knowing the narrative behind the piece, and last connecting with the artist … that is how I have collected almost all my pieces—close to 80 so far.
I feel like I live with a part of all these artists and never get tired of sharing their pieces with friends and making new friends in the art world. I’ve been blessed with many gifts—my businesses gave me the opportunity to collect and nurture my love of art. I am inspired everyday!
I want to thank Jackie Moses, Renee McGinnis, Richard Laurent, Roger Bole, Kathleen King, and Grace Cole for being my friends and letting me be a part of their lives … and to Neoteric Art for putting this together.