Sunday, February 16, 2020

Why buy art?

A painter friend of mine yesterday was telling me that she was working hard to get shows all over  town....various public buildings and so on.....and I thought ""Oh I should be doing that...."
but then..."why?"
Why?  Probably the most likely reason why is to sell!  Perhaps to encourage people to take classes.....or maybe for self-validation?
But does having a show like that lead to sales?  Generally I would say no, especially when it comes to expensive items like quilts.

“Many admire,  few buy”  seems to hold more strongly for quilts than for paintings. Quilts are very accessible and when you have a show you get lots of oos and ahhs and how lovelys….people never walk around with a silent puzzled look on their faces!   So why isn’t the work rushing off the walls? What are the reasons to buy and own a piece, and what are the reasons that people actually don't do this?

Many people just don't even consider owning a piece of art though they will definitely fork out a goodly sum for flat screen tvs and cell (mobile) phone bills. Their homes don't even contain a velvet Elvis!  There may be a few school or wedding photos, a calendar or two and that's it.  And yet, a work of art you love and have carried around with you through the years, makes a home instantly when you move to a new place.  The first thing I did when I moved (well the second one! the first was make a cup of tea...except for the memorable move when there was a power outage and the movers couldn't get the king sized bed up the narrow stairs and had to hoist it on a ladder through the bedroom window...we encouraged them and ourselves with several large Scotches - that's what it takes to get a couple of men on a ladder with a large bed!)..the next thing after tea was to decide where the art work was going to go and then it felt like home.  A much loved work of art not only beautifies a home, it can be a home. (or airport! below - at hartsfield-atlanta, gate 27, concourse E)

Some people of course just plain don't have the money - though I think if you add up entertainment and splurge shopping and eating out for a year, you'd be surprised what the amount came to.  If you'd bought a piece of art you'd have something beautiful or fascinating for ever -  instead of extra inches on the waistline, forgettable movies seen that were a waste of time, and clothes you no longer like.    And a work of art can be saved for before you choose, or paid for in installments...

Why is a work of art not considered for a major anniversary gift or to mark a very special occasion?  Why do people buy their children jewelry or a car when they come of age?  I bought paintings for my kids' 21sts!  Cars wear out, jewelry only comes out on special occasions, art is there beautifying your home every day. And it never gets a flat battery!

Some think if they had they time they could make something similar so why should they buy?!  But actually it's very difficult to copy another's work - I've seen several attempts - believe or not people have proudly shown me their copies of my quilts! - but the copies never have the elan, the freshness, the zest and the harmony of the original work.  I think it's even harder to copy an art quilt than a painting.  The mark of the hand is so much more evident.  Plus  the amount time it takes one to learn the trade, develop the skills, design the work and make it is usually vastly underestimated.

Exploding sewing machine!!!

What is different about those who do buy? They are the people who value beauty - and the expression of feeling.  For them to buy a piece, the work has to speak to them very personally, intrigue them, pull them back to look time and again.  And having been fascinated in this way, they have to believe that it would be good to actually own this piece, that it would then be theirs to enjoy each day. It's important to learn that art can be savored, it never gets used up!

It's great to have original art at home, it's even more of a life-savor at work!  I can think of several ex-colleagues I might have done in were it not for the peace and beauty of my art-filled, door-closed office! Especially abstract walk...which I find very calming....this was one of my favorites....

My good painter friend, Mary Porter, says: “It’s really all about energy. (A work of art) is about energy. A good (art piece) gives you energy, feeds you spiritually. It tells you things—something new every time you experience it. Not in words, but on a deeper level. But you have to quiet your mind and observe.” Listen, feel, think….and consider!

It helps to begin by collecting small works (as in water dipping toes) fact many of my first art pieces were traded, then I bought small "within-budget" works.  After this introduction, you move to the stage of knowing the pleasures of owning and you actively begin to look for work.
  If you've never owned anything beautiful you don't know quite how much fun it is!
So...think about it: if you buy, why do you?  And if you don't, why not?
Let me know in the comments!!!  and, by the way, if you have been...thanks for reading!  Elizabeth
PS...there are other reasons for having a show of course...which I'll come back to in due course...since this blog is already WAY too long!


Claire Alexander said...

I'll have to visit Atlanta just to see that sequence of works in person!
About math. I once lived in a small town that had an annual art festival. Juried. The first two years I drooled over pieces; my ex said we couldn't afford them. Meanwhile we bought the trinkety things that the artists brought for people like us: note cards printed from paintings, buttons . . . I added up what we had spent. Sure enough, it equaled the cost of a painting I'd wanted. The next year I got my painting.

Frances Arnold said...

Every time we fly out of Terminal E I have to go look at your beautiful quilts!!!

Vickie Wheatley said...

I buy art because it makes me happy or contemplative every time I look at it. And there's a maker behind it, a relationship that I have with a real person whose work touches me in some way. I am always amazed at friends who don't buy art. I do think that seeing the art that I have in my home, including some of my own, has caused them to begin buying a small piece now and then. Mostly mine because they know me, but who know where it might lead!
Also, I don't comment often on your blog (or anyone else's) but I love it. Always informative and thought provoking. Thank you for the time you invest!

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Claire, Frances and Vickie....I've been away from the blog for a week so excuse the slow responses.
thanks for visiting! unfortunately the pieces have faded quite a bit at the airport. They hung them high up in front of windows which were not treated with light filters!! I did tell them! but....
however the quilts at eye level are framed and in very good shape - one from me and one from several other artists.

Yes Claire! one can spend a lot on trinkets that's for sure...if people arn't sure and buy a very small piece from me, I tell them that they can trade it back in against a bigger piece later if they want.
very glad you got the painting you wanted!

and Vickie, I so agree with you...real art just has such a's well worth it. And thank you for reading the blog!!

JustGail said...

No, I've never bought original art. Part is the financial, a larger part is others in the house/life don't see the point. If much consideration is given at all, it's considered decoration. I'd love some non-traditional art or kinetic pieces, but "that doesn't go with the furniture" and much eye rolling and grousing about it is what I'd have to put up with, which would pretty much remove the happy of owning it. So I bid my time. Someday a large kinetic piece *will* be sitting in the yard. Paintings and quilts with colors that make me happy even if (especially if?) they don't contain anything immediately recognizable. I still kick myself for not buying a small sculpture made of window screen, paint, fabric at an art show 20 years ago. It gave me giggles then, now a sad smile because I didn't buy it.

One thing that made me realize (remember?) that sometimes prints just don't cut it, is seeing the Jackson Pollock painting Mural in person at Figge Art Museum a while back. I was able to see so many more animals that I can NOT see in prints or on-line images. And while I was there, getting lost in another painting that was 4 squares of black so subtly shaded with other colors that no way that would show up in a print (sorry, I don't recall the artist or name).

And I totally agree about school crushing creativity (in last post). I've been saying for years if you are stuck on a color or fabric choice, find a pre-schooler. I think that's where so many change from viewing things as "art" to "decoration" needed to complete a look.