Monday, August 29, 2011

Test waters of buying original art at First Saturday Art Crawl

from the Tennessean

Written by

Stacy Downs | McClatchy Newspapers

11:45 AM, Aug. 26, 2011|

Original art, in addition to family
photographs and heirlooms, makes a home
personal and individual.

But making the leap into collecting art can
be intimidating, even to the bright and the
bold. Perhaps that fear factor forms early,
after you’ve visited art museums and
spotted security guards standing on alert.
Or maybe it comes from the notion that you
have to be an art insider to even step
inside a gallery. And, of course, there’s the
price tag issue.

“You don’t have to have a lot of money to
buy art,” says Cortney Novogratz, who
along with her decorator husband, Robert,
has an HGTV show, Home by Novogratz.
Original art is a major part of their design
projects, and they typically spotlight an
artist in each episode.

“Original art reflects who you are as a
person, as a family, much more than
buying something from a chain store,” she
says.
Before you buy

For those who haven’t purchased art
before, Novogratz advises going to art fairs
to get an overview of what’s out there.

“You discover what your tastes are,” she
says. “You quickly learn there’s more out
there than paintings, which is what people
think of as art. There’s photography,
ceramics, charcoal and pencil drawings,
glass and furniture. Some designer chairs
we purchased have really held their value.”

The next step is visiting galleries,
intimidating at first for the uninitiated art
seeker.

“They have the power, not the gallery
owner,” says John O’Brien, owner of
Dolphin, a gallery and custom framer in the
West Bottoms area of Kansas City, Mo. “I
always tell people to take their time. Get a
feel for what you like and don’t like.”

Galleries are Novogratz’s preferred method for buying art.

“Yes, online is the world we live in, but I
like to see where my money’s going and to
meet the artist,” she says. “It makes art a
richer experience.”

Ask an artist

Novogratz asks artists questions beyond
what inspired their work. She’ll ask how
many prints were made of a photograph.
She also discusses decorative elements
with the artist, such as framing: Lucite box
or chipped wooden molding?

Artist Lonnie Powell of Lee’s Summit, Mo.,
enjoys meeting patrons and discussing his
work, much of which is portraiture of
African-American men and women in oil,
acrylic, charcoal, pencil, pastel and
watercolors. Like most artists, he prefers
people purchase what he has created from
his own mind’s eye and hands.

Getting started
The Downtown Nashville First Saturday Art Crawl is a great way to jump into the local art scene. The next one is Sept. 3. Downtown art galleries host receptions and art openings and serve free wine and snacks from 6 to 9 p.m. the first Saturday of every month, along Fifth Avenue North and around downtown. There is a free shuttle to take you from gallery to gallery. For more information, call 743-3090 or visit nashvilledowntown.com . For more on free local art events, check out Thursday’s Ms. Cheap column.
At art galleries? Know the hours. Some are closed Sundays and Mondays.
• Let gallery employees know your budget. They can show you pieces accordingly.
• Ask to see the gallery’s flat files/backroom/storeroom. There’s more than what’s on the walls, and less expensive pieces are often found there.
• Don’t be shy about financing. Most galleries have layaway and other options.
• Talk money. Negotiating is not for first-time buyers.
• Mix it up. “There are payoffs to waiting, watching, researching before purchasing, and there are payoffs to getting out there and being spontaneous,” Blue Gallery owner Kelly Kuhn says. “I love a collection that incorporates both. An entire collection that is well-researched can be a little dull and lifeless, and an entire collection that is spontaneous might seem unfocused. A collection that embodies both strategies has both depth and a degree of surprise and a little danger.”
Other places to buy art? Student art departments. “You can find inexpensive great pieces,” says designer Cortney Novogratz of HGTV’s Home by Novogratz .
• Flea markets and antique malls. “This is a great way to get your family involved in collecting,” says Novogratz, who has seven children. “At flea markets, one of my children collected portraits of women and clustered them on a wall. Folk art and oil paintings can be inexpensive at flea markets.”
• Photography studios. Besides doing portraits, some do art pieces.