If you liked Haussner's, you'd love us," says Richard Rist
, sporting a bemused smile as he
leads a quick tour of his
home-based gallery, the Large Art Co.
The collection on display in Rist's Northeast Baltimore house is, in fact, quite reminiscent of the late Highlandtown restaurant's trove of kitsch and classicism, only the pieces are less crowded and, as the name indicates, larger.
sunny office is dominated by a bronze eagle with a six-foot wingspan, and it's encircled with Frederic Remington horses and cowboys of all sizes, also cast in bronze.
own account, Rist
has lived an adventurous 43 years, pursuing a variety of careers--sailor, stockbroker, market researcher, and software developer--none of which heralded his
Born and raised in Towson
moved to rural North Carolina at the age of 14 to live with his
A few months later, his
father was murdered.
Unwelcome at his
stepmother's house, he
struck out on his
own, surviving on Social Security checks and minimum-wage jobs.
To avoid getting sent to a foster home, Rist
learned to keep a low profile and take care of himself.
At 18, he was managing a small-town convenience store; at 19, he was offered a chance to be a district manager for the retail chain.
didn't take it.
"I had this epiphany about my situation," he
As the group's leader, Rist felt obligated to spend a whole week bedding down on the benches.
post-naval trajectory, Rist
collected art--especially large art--for his
own enjoyment, and he
soon realized that there weren't very many galleries that catered to such monumental tastes as his
In the mid-'90s, while he was working on an economic research project at Towson University, he began thinking out loud about starting an art dealership.
wife, Karen, then pregnant for the first time, talked him out of taking the entrepreneurial plunge.
In retrospect, he
wife talked sense into him.
But while he
focused on other projects, the art idea simmered.
and two colleagues developed software for cataloguing the job skills in a given population and matching employers with people in need of work.
The somewhat unexpected success of that software product, now used by several Baltimore City agencies, allowed Rist
to revisit his
wife bought a century-old clapboard house at 6500 Old Harford Road, made the move from the county to the city, and went scouting for a storefront.
Finding nothing suitable on the main drag, Rist
took a neighbor's suggestion and turned part of his
home into showrooms.
orders the statuary from several American foundries, while most of his
paintings come from overseas. (The rather titillating nude in the office, for example, was produced in an obscure Chinese village called Xiamen by a native craftsman who signs his
work "Mosley.'' All his
Chinese artists, Rist notes, use Anglo pseudonyms.)
It may take a while for Large Art
to gain its full momentum, but Rist
is confident of his
marketing plans--and of the vast pool of consumers just waiting to find out about art that is, as he
puts it, "big, reasonable, and available.