Auctioneer Spotlight: Matt Ketteman and Tanya Zelinska

 In Cruise Art Auctions at Sea

Many of our Park West collectors develop friendships with the art teams over the course of their land or sea vacations. Here’s a chance to get to know them more as they share their favorite adventures in the art world.

After graduating in 2013 from Xavier University in Ohio, Matt took his love of art to new heights by working with Park West. Tetiana, also known as Tanya, joined Park West in 2015 after working on cruise ships two years prior, using her background in education and management to introduce people to the world of art.

Auctioneers Matt Ketteman and Tanya Velinska

Auctioneers Matt Ketteman and Tanya Zelinska with Pino art

Previous ships as Auctioneer: Carnival (CCL) Paradise, CCL Liberty, CCL Breeze, Holland America Noordam

Current ship: Royal Caribbean International Oasis of the Seas


Where is your hometown?

Matt: Buffalo, New York

Tanya: Ternopil, Ukraine


When did you start working as an international art dealer on cruise ships?

Matt: I started my career in July of 2013 after graduating from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I had always loved art and used to carry around a King Tutankhamun book with me everywhere I went!  I was infatuated with Egyptian art. When I saw an opportunity to work at an art gallery, I had to jump on it!   However when I first applied, I had no idea it involved working on cruise ships. After the first interview, when they told me I would be travelling around the world as an international art dealer on a cruise ship, my only question was, “Where do I sign up?”

Tanya: I joined the company in March 2015, but began working onboard ships in August of 2013. The art program gave me a chance to combine my passion for art and love of travel.  I have a background in education and management and every day I get to combine my background with my passion of fine art! Managing an onboard art program while educating new and experienced collectors on fine art is one of the most enthralling and satisfying things I could have ever imagined doing!


What do you like most about being an auctioneer?

Matt: If I had to choose one, it would be the joys of helping people collect fine art!  There truly is no better feeling than after giving a presentation and seeing a collector’s eyes seemingly gloss over while getting lost in one of their favorite artworks.  When people walk away with a smile on their face, it puts a smile on ours knowing we assisted them in collecting something as personal as a painting, something that will be in their families for generations to come. When they walk out, it’s almost watching a new chapter of someone’s life unfold.  People always ask: “How do you work every day on board for 6-8 months at a time?” We couldn’t do it without the lifelong relationships we build every single week from all the wonderful people who we have met over the past three years.


Who is your favorite Park West artist and why?

Matt: If I had to narrow it down, it would have to be Tim Yanke.  Something about abstract art has always struck a chord with me.  I’ve always loved artists like Willem de Kooning & and Wassily Kandinsky, and the chaotic expression that we know as Abstract Expressionism.  Tim Yanke has done such an incredible job with his abstracts and his contemporary neo-twist on the movement.  I think a large part of it roots to the fact that he goes into his studio, blares rock ‘n’ roll, and just puts his entire soul into his paintings.

Tanya: One of my favorite artists is Dominic Pangborn.  He is so multitalented and diverse there is not one artistic style, technique, or medium; from photographic realism to non-representational abstract. Creativity takes courage and it’s the essence of his art.


What is your favorite client memory?

Matt: One memory that comes to mind is with a young couple named Joshua and Tiffany.  They were new to the program and we helped them acquire a variety of works from Autumn de Forest to Peter Max.  Rarely do you meet someone and instantly click!  About six months later, Josh and Tiffany came back and cruised with us again on board the Carnival Breeze where we were able to enjoy time with them on board and out in the ports.  I’ll never forget the great time we had with them horseback riding in Grand Turk, just two incredible people!

Tanya Velinska and Matt Ketteman

Tanya Zelinska and Matt Ketteman

What is your favorite port or a travel tip for the readers?

Matt: We’ve been to so many beautiful places in these three years, but we can easily say our all-time favorite destination was majestic, wild, and breathtaking Alaska. The best ports of call were Juneau and the small gold-mining town of Skagway. The views are incomparable and some of the best attractions are whale watching, dog-sledding, helicopter rides to a glacier and the unforgettable journey on the White Pass Scenic Railway.


Please tell us about your experience on being an auctioneer aboard the Oasis.

Matt: It’s unlike any other ship we’ve been on: enormous! It’s like living in a floating town.  Different parts of the ship are called neighborhoods, so you can get an idea how huge it is. With big ship comes big responsibility and it has been quite challenging, but an invaluable experience.

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