In their home along one of Fort Lauderdale’s many canals, Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz are surrounded by their contemporary art collection amassed over some 30 years. For Francie, art is more than just a collector’s passion. A two-time winner of the South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship, she is a working artist—represented by the Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami—with a string of past shows at galleries and museums, including a recent solo selling exhibition at Bookstein Projects in New York City.
In their light-filled guesthouse across the street, Francie can be found most hours of the day in her airy studio. Paintings and photographs cover the walls. Canvases are stacked in vertical storage units. Paints, tools, and materials blanket all surfaces. Brightly colored ceramics are in various stages of completion; many are displayed on shelves while others wait to be fired in the kiln.
Francie’s own work greatly influences her collection, she notes. “It’s always evolving, and in many ways [our art] collection reflects what I’m doing in my own practice,” she says. “If I’m working in sculpture, I’m really looking hard at sculpture. If I’m working in photography, I’m interested in photography. So, it’s definitely related.”
The couple’s main home was designed by Deborah Berke, while the guesthouse and studio were designed by Fort Lauderdale–based architect Bob Tuthill. The guesthouse boasts a vibrant yellow door that gives way to spacious, open living areas. Upper-floor guest bedrooms accommodate family visits and the high jinks of their nine grandchildren.
David acknowledges that Francie has an eye for collecting and can outrun him when it comes to visiting galleries and museums. She spends several days at a time in New York doing the gallery rounds and attends the occasional art fair, especially Art Basel Miami Beach. David has his own art-related projects, and together they are a formidable team, working with, collecting, and promoting art over their 36 years of marriage. “As an artist you are always trading with other artists, and I came in with a lot of stuff,” Francie confesses.
The first expensive piece they bought together was a Louise Nevelson wall sculpture in 1986. “We didn’t start with a plan,” Francie says. “I looked around one day and said, ‘David, the work that we have bought is mostly women. We really need to focus on that, otherwise it will be bits here and there.”
They have the help of Sarah Michelle Rupert, their director of collections, who pulls it all together and often reveals unexpected discoveries—like photographs involving sets of twins, The Stewart Sisters, H.F. Grebey Junior High School, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, by Judith Joy Ross and Jordan and Joseph Basinger, Twinsburg, Ohio, by Mary Ellen Mark; or works about swimming pools that seem unwittingly to have become sub-themes. “I think we have a cohesive collection,” says Francie.
That collection includes more than 1,200 works, from local, national, and international artists, from both relative unknowns and celebrated names. They rotate pieces between their houses and a warehouse art space fondly known as the Girls’ Club, where they’re able to share their collection with the community.
Founded in 2006 and run by Rupert, the Girls’ Club is also a private foundation. It operates as a space for curated exhibitions, educational programming, and events. Part of its mission is to nurture the careers of female artists and serve as a resource for those studying the contribution of women to the field of contemporary art. It is open to all—despite its moniker, which is derived from the girls’ club at Francie’s high school. “I thought it was politically incorrect and always made me laugh,” she says.
Francie is the current board chair at the NSU Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, a position David held before her. They have promised around 100 pieces to the museum, and many are on permanent loan there. David’s alma mater, Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, which houses what David calls “an academic museum,” is also the recipient of gifted works. They’ve donated a large portion of their video collection to Allentown Art Museum in Francie’s hometown in Pennsylvania.
Works in both houses cover photography, ceramics, painting, and mixed media. Represented photographers include Cindy Sherman, Nikki S. Lee, and Arlene Gottfried, among many others. Painters on display range from Alice Neel and Lisa Yuskavage to Nina Chanel Abney, Mickalene Thomas, Louise Fishman, Elisabeth Condon, Squeak Carnwath, Shinique Smith, and Melanie Daniel.
Joan Snyder’s Untitled Postmardemgarden (1995), which is made of herbs, papier-mâché, oil, and acrylic on canvas, hangs prominently in the living room. Situated on the landing in the guesthouse, Chantal Joffe’s oil-on-board Kristen (2008) depicts a larger-than-life seated figure. Girl with a Loaf of Bread (2001), an arresting small portrait by German photographer Loretta Lux, hangs on the staircase wall. Arlene Shechet’s Seeing Asteroids (2016), made of glazed ceramic and steel, is one of several ceramic pieces. An entire room is dedicated to dog themes; Laura Waldorf’s cut-paper Lucky (2007) and five dog works in fiber by Kerry Phillips are just a few examples of the breadth and variety of media in the collection.
During the pandemic, Francie and David put out a call to artists entitled “Drawing Closer.” Every week over several months, artists would send in their works with a purchase price. “Almost every piece we bought, we had no idea who they were,” says David. “We didn’t know these artists. As collectors, it was a great opportunity for us not to see the same artists over and over again.” These works are now in the collection and will be shown at the Girls’ Club.
David has also spearheaded a collection that’s dear to his heart: a grouping of civil rights–era photographs that date from the 1940s to the 1980s. “It tells a story and it’s supposed to tell a story,” he explains. “I bought them and collected them, allowing the art to put together a narrative to teach my kids, my grandkids, and other people’s kids and grandkids about the problems in this country today. You could see through the civil rights era how much progress was made and how we’ve gone backward and how much more there is to do.”
He began accumulating these pieces around 2014 and hopes to share them with academic institutions. And while it is David’s undertaking, Francie still offers her opinion. “She’s weighing in on the aesthetics and how good a photograph it is,” says David. “I’m thinking about the story and she’s thinking about the art.”
When it comes to acquiring works, David says 95 percent of the time it is Francie’s choice. “Occasionally there will be a piece in our travels that I will want to buy. Mostly Francie won’t veto it; occasionally she does,” says David wryly.
They are unwilling to say which piece is their favorite, but if they had to grab one in the event of a fire, David relents. “There is one,” he says. “The Alice Neel drawing, Mother and Child, [that was] part of the Alice Neel show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and will tour around the world.”
Then, Francie whispers, “the Diane Arbus,” referring to the black-and-white Gelatin silver print Woman with her Baby Monkey (1971) that hangs in her master bedroom. “I could put it in my pocket.”