Inside the Home of Music Industry Giant, Ken Levitan
The Levitan's collection spans multiple mediums, including photography, sculptures, oil paintings, and folk art.
Written By: Erin B. Murray
Photographers: Shannon Fontaine
Ken Levitan and Gloria Dumas are slowly running out of wall space. Avid collectors of photography, paintings, and folk art, the couple has a frame (or ten) on just about every wall of their 1950s-era Oak Hill home—you’ll even find rare prints hanging in the laundry and every bathroom.
“The collection started when Ken’s mother gave us several really nice pieces of art,” says Dumas. “Then we started collecting together, buying folk art. And that grew because as you dabble in it, your taste becomes a little bit more sophisticated. From there, we got into the photography. [Usually], we were just in the right place at the right time.”
For Levitan, the collection embodies his passion for music as well as his place in the industry. The founder of Vector Management has a long history in the music business—over the years, his clients have included Kings of Leon, Hank Williams Jr., Emmylou Harris, and Lyle Lovett. Many of the photos are portraits of artists he’s worked with or knows personally—most of them are signed.
“I always liked black-and-white photography,” he says. “And then we went to Santa Fe and visited the Andrew Smith Gallery. I bought a [limited-edition photo] of John Lennon by Annie Leibovitz, the one that was the cover of Rolling Stone, and from there started getting more music-oriented pieces. After that, it blossomed into a much broader kind of collection.”
Walking through the home, it’s hard not to stop and stare. The collection spans multiple mediums, including photography, sculptures, oil paintings, and folk art. Levitan and Dumas acquired pieces from great Southern folk artists like Mose Tolliver and Robyn Beverland. There are several paintings by Nashville artist Kit Reuther, a silkscreen by Andy Warhol, an original Salvador Dalí, a painting by Marc Chagall. The couple calls photographer Jack Spencer a good friend, and some of their favorite prints are by him and Ansel Adams. As for the music photos, there’s a wall featuring original prints of Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ringo Starr. An intimate photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono hangs in the master bath. Each iconic image seems to fit right where it belongs. “You find that when you put a piece up, it has its home and it’s just where it’s supposed to be,” explains Dumas. “That’s where it lives. It feels wrong to bring it down.”
Throughout the home, there are also mementos of the couple’s vast and varied adventures. Much of the furniture came from Santa Fe, including a couch in the sunroom that was the first piece the couple bought together. Levitan rattles off the international destinations they’ve hit over the years: Africa, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Peru. There are trips to Sao Paolo and India in the works. In the kitchen, a display of figurines represents many of the stops they’ve made with characters from Halifax, Laos, and Vietnam adorning a window. Levitan dabbles in photography himself, and two of his prints from a trip to Burma grace a sliver of one wall. Dumas tells the story behind a painting in the kitchen, which they picked up off the side of a road in Tanzania. “We were driving down the road, and I just yelled stop!” says Dumas. “There were these beautiful canvases hanging on a line, and the guy is just sitting there painting outside. I said, ‘We have to bring this home.’”
Perhaps the space that best shows off what this couple loves about life is the wine room. A number of photographic greatest hits are clustered together on one wall—and all of the rock gods are there, including Lennon, McCartney, and Starr. Most are signed to Levitan, like a framed sheet of paper on which Emmylou Harris scrawled the lyrics of “Red Dirt Girl.” And though the couple doesn’t consider themselves “big” wine collectors, this is where they entertain and show off a few bottles. “We’re not wine connoisseurs, but we have some favorites,” says Levitan. “Our whole life is just a big collective of the things we love.”
And whenever they’re presented with a reason to toast, adds Dumas, “we can usually find a good bottle to pour!”