The following article was written by Peter O’Connell, and was published in The Clare Champion, a regional newspaper published in Ireland.
The Clare Champion story:
Taba mixes business with pleasure
August 18, 2017
Taba Dale has travelled quite a distance, in many respects, from her childhood home in Washington, D.C. to Liscannor in North Clare, where she spends her summers.
A fine art dealer, with 38 years experience in the industry, Taba also writes and is a recognized golf historian. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona from September to May, she spends her summers, with her partner Kevin McGrath, gazing across the pristine Atlantic waters in Liscannor.
Taba loves what she does, although ideally she would like it if she was more adept on the golf course.
“It’s like all my passions have coalesced. Travel, art, golf and writing. I wish I had been born to a golf family and taken it up earlier in life. I started writing when I first came over here. I had written some stories before but I’m 20 years down the road now,” Taba explained as a soft drizzle enveloped her adopted village.
Born on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as a child, Taba whiled away many an afternoon lingering in various Smithsonian museums.
“Those were the days when you could wander around and not be worried about being abducted. I started at one end of the Mall and then got to the National Gallery, where I was seeing Monets and other world class works of art” Taba says of her childhood wanderings.
“When I became an art dealer, my sensibilities were informed by what I had seen as a pre-teen. I studied art but I never took a degree. In fact, I never took a degree in anything. I just followed my own drumbeat.”
In the 1970s, Taba felt the urge to travel and off she went.
“I was living on my own at 17. I had one burning desire and that was to travel. I wanted to come to Europe. In my last year of high school, I was already working and saving my money. As soon as I turned 18, I got my passport and I was gone. I flew from New York to London on a Pan Am 747. I had a round-trip ticket and $400. I was in Europe for six months and I was in 13 different countries. I was able to stay in hostels and in those days you could still hitch-hike. I met a lot of other adventurous people along the way and was soaking up so much culture. When I returned to the U.S., I had one burning desire, which was to return to Europe!”
She worked as a designer and made clothes, which indirectly led her into the art world.
“It’s ironic how I got into the art business. I was delivering some silk clothes that I had made to a small boutique, right on the D.C. line. I wound up chatting with a guy visiting an art gallery in the same building and he asked me could I make him a suit? I said ‘yes’ and he decided on a linen suit. Through the course of making the suit, I learned he was an art dealer and he offered me a job.”
However, Taba soon realized that she wanted to work for herself.
“I was creating lots of new business for this guy and I thought if I was going to work this hard, I’d rather work for myself. I learned how to appreciate and handle high-end graphic art, and when other publishers were asking for representation, this guy rejected lots of them, so I called them and asked if they would take a chance on me? They said ‘yes.’ I started out with a little pile of art on my floor and then eventually had commercial space and $500,000 in inventory.
“I had determined that I was going to become the most important resource of my genre in the mid-Atlantic region. I think I achieved that. A great many art consultants, also working for themselves would come to me and borrow art, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars worth. They would make presentations to their clients. Whatever they sold, I would bill them for and the rest would go back into inventory.” she explained.
Taba has lived in Scottsdale for 11 years and it was while at a wedding there back in the 1980s that she realized this is where she might like to live when she left Washington.
“Washington D.C. is a great city but I knew I wanted to get out of D.C. for many years. I don’t like shoveling snow and I don’t like shivering. It was an October wedding in Scottsdale and I remember going outside and seeing palm trees dancing in the breeze. People were wearing shorts and flip flops. Back in D.C. all the leaves were off the trees, and I thought, hmmm, I think I like flip flops. I don’t know if I made up my mind then and there, but I started looking for any excuse to get out to Scottsdale, “ she laughed.
Workwise, Taba moved into the high-end art market.
“It could take an hour to sell an inexpensive print to somebody so I thought what if I was spending that time selling something of very high value? So I went more and more in that direction. Now 38 years later, I’m a private dealer handling works in seven figures. The works are world-class, museum quality, some more rare than others.”
In the golf world, Taba is the first person to market golf art online before 1997. She created the Scottsdale Collection a few years before that and her company was a vendor at several major golf events. She is the Co-founder of Legacy of the Links, a management and consulting company for tournaments and fund-raising projects, and with her partner Kevin, organizes custom golf trips to Ireland, Scotland, England and other golf destinations around the world. Taba is also the Co-founder of the Top 100 Invitational, which celebrates the great golf clubs and courses that have been included on various Top 100 United States and World ranking lists.
She has also written four books, including A Summer in Ireland and A Stroll on the Old Lady.
Much of her writing is influenced by her summers in North Clare.
“I wound up here because of Kevin McGrath. We met in Ireland when I was running a charity golf event at the European Club. There was one team missing somebody. A guy who paid the entry fee was unable to attend and said he was sending someone in his place. That person was Kevin and that is how we met in 2004. We started out as business partners,” she smiled.
As for her writing, Taba received some sage advice from her editor in L.A. when she first started writing.
“He said, ‘You’re a good writer but your stories are robbed of vitality because there’s no dialogue’. That was because I was always wandering around by myself and just observing everything that was so different and special. He said I needed dialogue and dialect,” Taba, who is not shy on the dialogue front, laughed.