collecting art

When Fred and I first moved to the city we found a studio loft apartment on 28th and Madison. Figured that way we could walk to our jobs. I didn't realize that I would end up in Kings Plaza Brooklyn after three months of job training. We certainly didn't realize that we would be sharing our new hood with prostitutes and SRO hotels either. 

It took time to put our place together because we had no cash. We had a mattress and a TV that his parents were getting rid of and a cheap wooden table and chairs from a discount store. We finally bit the bullet and ordered a couch that had a two month lead time.  So nightly we found ourselves in our walk-in closet sitting on camp trunks and using an upside down milk crate as a table to play cards every night because the only light we had was in the closet.  Eventually the place came together and we started to bring in some income so we decided to buy a piece of art instead of putting up posters.  Oh yes, we were adults now. 

We would look at galleries in Soho on the weekends.  We knew how much we wanted to spend and we knew we would know what we wanted when we saw it. Our first piece, which I still love, is above. It is called the smoker and the poet.  We continued to buy art after getting bit by the bug and then stopped  because financially we could barely make ends meet so art wasn't part of the budget.

Years passed and we began to collect again.  This time I was introduced to a woman who actually helps people grow their collection.  What she really does it educate her clients.  She introduced me to galleries and artists and took me on studio visits.  A real eye opener. I realized that you don't necessarily have to spend a lot to own a piece of an artists work and the obvious to me was to buy what you love.  There are plenty of people who buy art because they know that the artist is emerging and their work is going up in value.  With that thought in mind, many people then sell the work they bought in a few years on the secondary market.  I have yet to do that.  I want to love what I own and don’t really look at it as an investment although it is.  Hence, it is important to make sure the work you buy is insured and appraised again over time to make sure that you are insured at the correct value.  Keep all your receipts and records from wherever you buy the art. 

Today I do the art shows, walk the galleries and always look at art in the cities we travel to.  The most important thing is to just love the work you buy. You are going to live with it. It doesn't hurt to buy from a gallery that is interested in nurturing the artist while helping their career grow.  There are all different kinds of galleries from emerging to seasoned.  You will find a gallery where you love all the artists that they represent and others where nothing speaks to you.  There are now places like 20×200 and others where you can buy work that is done in limited editions from seasoned artists at reasonable prices. Generally, photography is less expensive as a medium.

The key is to think about your budget and make sure it speaks to you and that if you walk away you won’t be able to get that piece out of your head.  Love it!  Do your homework so when you see something for the price you want to spend that you won't hesitate because you have an understanding of the market.

Living with art is something everyone can do…and should.`

Comments (Archived):

  1. atryon

    I love that you still own your first piece. Great story – thanks for sharing it here! Since I am now in the business of helping more people become art collectors, it is always inspirational to hear how someone like you started.

    1. Gotham Gal

      and what is amazing is that we still really love that piece!

      1. CCjudy

        Do you know Dorothy and Herb and see their Movie? Judy

        1. Gotham Gal

          I do. Classic film.

          1. CCjudy

            You know them – what beautiful people with incredible taste in artJudy

          2. Gotham Gal

            unbelievable people.

  2. artyowza

    Who created the smoker and the poet?Do you have art in storage?…….I collect outsider art.

    1. Gotham Gal

      a guy in south america. i can’t remember off the top of my head.i have a few things in storage but it was supposed to fit in our place butthe walls were the wrong size. alas. i am building a wall for them nextfall.

      1. artyowza

        building around the art is when it gets interesting! good and bad news is that i got some new industrial shelves this week……

        1. Gotham Gal

          lost art space

  3. awaldstein

    Great post.For me the biggest problem has been running out of wall space!

  4. Cecelia Feld

    As an artist and collector of other artists’ work I loved hearing how you got started. The “buy what you love’ is a little like the “do what you love” philosophy of life. We still have pieces bought many years ago with very little money. They still speak to us. Keep collecting! You have three children who may want some of it one day. Wish you were in Denver on April 7 for the opening of my next exhibit at Translations Gallery. It’s a photography show.Cecelia

    1. Gotham Gal

      Congrats on your show

  5. ellen

    What I find interesting is how to display art that usually does not hang on walls. Pottery, beautiful china, great works of sterling silver etc. Sometimes it is a shame to put them in a cabinet. Bookcase shelves can be boring and the pieces can be three dimensional so you want to walk around and see all the sides. Pedestals are good but one is enough in a room at most. So what do you do with a collection. One woman friend had beautiful china and it stayed in a former maid’s room turned game room wrapped in bubble wrap on a pool table. Now that is sad.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i love going to peoples homes who have all different types of art. alwaysinteresting to see how it is displayed. i have seen walls with plates andwalls with collected hats.

  6. ShanaC

    Thanks – you make me look forward to when I get to a chance to buy my own first peice

  7. Nina Baldwin

    great post! I completely agree with your “buy what you love” philosophy!! I am an artist…but in the last couple of years in addition to creating my own work, i have begun to purchase art from my many art friends…art that i love!…and it has been a delight to do so…plus I am supporting the artists in my area! so it is beneficial for both my friends and me…I love to see pieces of art hanging in my house that are beautiful and also that remind me of that special person…the perfect fit!! thanks for this post!!

    1. Gotham Gal

      lots of artists that i know exchange their art with no cash passing hands.very nice.