Viktoria Savenkova (b. 1979), "Oceans," 2021, oil on wood, 15 2/5 x 21 3/4 in.

Art Collection Profile > Samuel and Alice Peralta were born in the Philippines but have long resided in Toronto, where Samuel has made his name as a physicist, entrepreneur, film producer, and editor of the Future Chronicles anthologies of speculative fiction. Samuel has always loved art, as his mother, Rosario Bitanga, was their homeland’s leading female abstractionist, and his father, Jesus Peralta, a critic and playwright. Samuel and Alice met in university and soon began attending his mother’s exhibitions.

Samuel and Alice Peralta art collection, art collectors

Samuel’s first acquisition was a gouache landscape by Mauro “Malang” Santos, bought during his first year of university with part of his scholarship funds. “Amazingly, and fortunately,” he laughs, “my parents were proud of me and made up the amount I had spent.” Samuel and Alice’s first serious purchase together was a Chagall lithograph they spotted at London’s Sims Reed Gallery; he recalls that “it opened our eyes to the possibility of curating a collection, rather than amassing individual pieces.” (The couple went on to buy several Matisse prints from Sims Reed.)

Over time the Peraltas have come to appreciate art of all kinds — realist, abstract, contemporary, historical — yet their collection focuses on “realist art with a strong narrative or symbolic subtext.” They say they are “always looking for pieces that sing to us. We ask each other, ‘Do we love it? Will we regret not acquiring it?’”

Luckily, metropolitan Toronto is home to superb galleries, auctions, fairs, and a lively arts community, and the Peraltas especially admire their fellow collector Jeanne Banka, a fixture on the scene “who feels personal joy when she sees us go home with a new piece, and whose enthusiasm is infectious.” The couple also have strong connections to comparable sources in Montreal, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and naturally they follow developments via the Internet and magazines.

The Peraltas are quick to praise sources that have been particularly helpful. They include John Kinsella and Gisella Giacalone at Mira Godard Gallery (Toronto), Ineke Zigrossi at Abbozzo Gallery (Toronto), Kipling Gallery (Woodbridge, Ontario), Montreal’s Galerie Cosner and Galerie Claude Lafitte, KP Projects (Los Angeles), Alpha 137 Gallery (New York City), the Canadian auctioneers Cowley & Abbott, Heffels, and Waddingtons, and the German auctioneers Auctionata and Bassenge.

The Peraltas underscore their deep respect for the Chicago-based curator/artist Didi Menendez, who in 2010 published Samuel’s Sonnets from the Labrador (a project inspired by David Blackwood’s etchings). Menendez has introduced them to many opportunities at 33 Contemporary Gallery (Chicago), Arcadia Contemporary (New York City), RJD Gallery (Michigan), and Wisconsin’s Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art.

Today the Peralta Collection includes works by Paulina Aubey, Ivonne Bess, David Blackwood, Cora Brittan, Erica Elan Ciganek, Franco Cimitan, Philip Craig, Carlos Fentanes, Tom Forrestall, Barbara Fox, Grant Gilsdorf, Maryam Gohar, Sarah Jane Gorlitz, Brianna Lee Hardie, Mercedes Helnwein, Heather Horton, Fabian Jean, Max Johnson, Susannah Martin, Didi Menendez, Janice Moorhead, Agnieszka Nienartowicz, Jamie Nye, Amy Ordoveza, Karen Pasieka, Christopher Pratt, Sean William Randall, Nadine Robbins, Paul Roorda, Viktoria Savenkova, Christina Sealey, Greg Shafley, Jeremy Smith, Jessica Smith, Allen Smutylo, Don Stinson, Takao Tamabe, Aron Wiesenfeld, and Olexander Wlasenko.

The Peraltas treasure their friendships with many of these artists. For example, Samuel says, “We first came across Heather Horton through Abbozzo Gallery, and we immediately fell in love with her works, not only because she uses minimalist patches of color to approximate perception, but also because there’s always a story embedded in the image.

Contemporary art collection - Heather Horton (b. 1974), "Kerri Aware," 2011, oil on canvas, 18 x 36 in.
Heather Horton (b. 1974), “Kerri Aware,” 2011, oil on canvas, 18 x 36 in.

Illustrated here is her “Kerri Aware,” which Samuel describes as “a study of peaceful sleep among rumpled sheets that resemble clouds. But the work’s title, and the baseball bat in the background, provide that narrative tension that characterizes our collection. Over time we have acquired a score of Heather’s paintings, so that the story of her life has populated our walls and shelves. We have come to know her as much from the art as from our many conversations.”

In 2019, Samuel and Alice began collecting sculpture, starting with such historical Canadian realists as Bill McElcheran. They have shifted toward the magical realism of Abraham Anghik Ruben, an Inuit sculptor who has created a personal mythology inspired by early contact between the Inuit and Vikings, as well as Ralph Ingleton, Ricky Jaw, Johnny Kilabuk, and Lea Vivot.

In general, the Peraltas are delighted to observe the recent swing of art’s pendulum back toward realism and technical mastery. “Realist art,” Samuel notes, “is becoming more indicative of its societal context, making it a truer mirror of the world. It is also incorporating techniques of non-representation — such as pure color, line, form, juxtaposition, and randomness — that give it a more vibrant vocabulary.”

Having written about the future, it makes sense that Samuel created the Lunar Codex project ( in 2020. Its mission is to send digitized archives — of art (predominantly contemporary realism), books, poetry, music, and film — in time capsules that will remain on the Moon. This content is stored on shielded memory cards, or etched on nickel wafers, and can endure for millennia. After it arrives, more than 7,000 contemporary creative artists from around the world will be represented on the Moon.

Such an initiative epitomizes the Peraltas’ belief that “the best is yet to come,” something surely everyone hopes is true.

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