The Haskell Collection: Artwork that sends a strong message

The builder says having art in the work environment energizes the mind and spirit.

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Along with his reputation in the design-build business, Preston Haskell is known as an art collector.

The Haskell Collection comprises more than 40 original contemporary paintings, hundreds of limited-edition works on paper and more than 20 sculptures.

“More than just a compilation of abstract works, the objects contained within the Haskell Collection chart the evolving nature of postwar abstraction, in both America and Europe,” says a description by Marcelle Polednik, former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, in the collection’s catalog published in 2016.

Haskell began collecting with one painting, a gift from his employer when he worked for the S.S. Jacobs Co. before opening his design and engineering firm in 1965.

“Bob Jacobs was an art collector. One Christmas, I think he couldn’t give me a bonus, so he gave me a painting,” Haskell said.

He soon was working with the late Jacqueline Holmes, Jacksonville’s first fine art dealer and private gallery owner, to build his acquisitions.

When Haskell designed the corporate headquarters along Riverside Avenue, it was intended for paintings and sculptures commissioned for the project to be displayed inside and outside the building.

“We made sure we had plenty of big walls and light for art,” Haskell said.

He says having art in the work environment energizes the mind and spirit and makes people more imaginative and creative.

It also sends a strong message to visitors that the company values aesthetics and creativity as an important part of its culture, Haskell said.

“My objective is to have good work by good artists in everyone’s private office as well as in the halls and conference rooms. We’re about 90% there.”