The holidays this past December were special for Margot Siegel.
With family living nearby and Art Basel to visit earlier in the month, life could hardly be better for this 87-year-old former Minnesotan, now a fulltime resident at The Palace in Kendall.
Known for her world-class art collection, she decided to create a mini-gallery of her own in twin accommodations at the community residence where she has lived during frigid Twin Cities’ winters the past 10 years.
Becoming a Kendall resident the year-around actually began 11 years ago on a trip to visit her daughter, Sandra, wife of Douglas Gluck, for a family birthday. Suffering a sudden stroke, she was treated at Baptist Hospital and later took up temporary quarters at The Palace before returning to her Minneapolis apartment.
Now, a decade later, after splitting summers in Minneapolis and winters in Kendall, The Palace has become a year-around home for this lively lady whose colorful life includes so many facets she thinks, “it’s really become time to write my memoirs.
“I think a lady in England has beaten me to the kind of book I had in mind about living in an adult community,” she mused. “But that’s all right, I have some different ideas of my own.”
If so, they might well begin with a lifelong fascination — “combining the worlds of fashion and art.” That describes Siegel’s predominant interest as a collector of such world-renowned artists as Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg whose famed mammoth “pop art” canvas dubbed “Flying Bacon” once decorated a lobby ceiling at Miami International Airport.
Donating much of her fashion collection to the famed Goldstein Museum of Design at the University of Minnesota, she now enjoys showing guests favored art pieces she saved for her Florida home.
A career woman before the 1970s feminist movement, she became an editor and international correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily after World War II, and later served as a public relations director for Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, next-door neighbor to her high-rise apartment where she continued writing for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and as the arts and fashion columnist of Skyway News, a downtown newspaper.
Her love of fashion included amassing an eclectic mix of accessories and wardrobe items that have become period collectibles, from a Stephen Sprouse design of a Louis Vuitton handbag to an early Warhol sketch of a high-heeled shoe.
This priceless treasure trove of fashion fascinated curators of the Goldstein Museum when viewing potential acquisitions from the Siegel collection that include a Takashi Murakami design with a Vuitton “Cherries” coin purse.
“Maybe you should take the quarters out,” she quipped to the museum’s curators.
Hardly your typical retiree, Siegel recently co-lectured on art with a University of Miami professor and vows to continue her writing career, if only to recapture historical moments like her nose for news detected before the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul.
“I was on freelance assignment at the time, writing advance pieces at the invitation of the government,” Siegel recalled. “But the real story that I saw was the infiltration of North Koreans into South Korea. No one would believe me and that story never got published in Minneapolis.”
Does being not-your-typical career woman still have appeal?
“Well, I always wanted to make something of myself before settling down and marrying,” she laughed. “I suppose I could have great-grandchildren by now but I married late and never regretted it. However, I have two fine grandsons, 16-year-old twins, both of them getting ready to go to college.”
Added this not-so-typical retiree of The Palace in Kendall: “You know, there’s always something to live for.”