Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why do people buy quilts to hang on the wall?

karen apr 10 044
Painters ask themselves why people buy their work and I thought it would be interesting  to think about this question  in relation to  art quilts. For the truth of “Many admire,  few buy”  seems to hold even 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.  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.

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!  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 (their husbands 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 the piece is usually vastly underestimated. 

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-close office!

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


Unknown said...

I've been buying art for years - my first "piece" was purchased 17 years ago. I was a poor single mom, going to University part time and working, and I had stopped into the newly installed art gallery at our University, and I fell in love with a particular painting. Nearly every day, I went into the gallery and fell into it and saw something new.

One day a 30ish man came up to me and suggested I buy it. I told him I couldn't afford it, and he said to contact the artist and maybe he would do installment payments. I did and he would, so I made hard won, tiny payments on the painting for more than a year - he let me take it home after that and I continued to make tiny payments for another year after that.

I still love the painting. And in the years since I've continued to buy art of all kinds - paintings, photographs, collage, sculpture - some expensive, most not - some of I have an enduring love affair with, and some of it, it turns out, I can't live with. And so I give it to other people. Recently, I was thinking about getting an art piece for my cubicle at work. At first thought "no", but then "why not" and have been looking for the right piece.

Art enriches my life in a way that I can't explain - and not just a "master" painting - the first time I saw Resurrection Fern's crocheted rocks - they caused my chest to hollow out and my eyes to tear. Who knew? Crocheted rocks!

Art shows us who we are. Not only as a society, but as individuals. Whether you're paying attention or not.

Unknown said...

My apologies for the treatise! ;)

Terry Grant said...

I tend to buy art when I travel. The art need not depict the place or even have anything to do with the place. I just think when I am vacationing my eyes are open, my heart is open and one of the reasons we choose many of our destinations is to see art and we take time to walk through galleries and museums as we don't always do at home. Also, for me, art acquisition is very spontaneous. I have never once left my house with the purpose in my mind of finding a piece of art to purchase. It is always something of a surprise when a piece of art speaks to me so strongly that I decide I should have it. Not at all like buying a big screen TV, where you research on the net, read the consumer guide, ask friends, then go out in search of the exact model you have narrowed your search down to!

Nina Marie said...

The rule in our house is that no art work goes up unless its original. I'm so glad we've stood by that over the years. Of course, everyone in the family has something on the wall - but we also have some local artists. Not a day goes by when I don't look at a piece and still love it but also admire the talent that went into it.
Oh and once when I remarked that an Elizabeth's piece would lovely in our new bedroom - my husband said - just copy hers - LOL - Looked at him like he was nuts - NOT THE SAME. Never would be and I would never enjoy it.

Original means original.

Rian said...

We have a LOT of art. We recently moved and the house was dead until the art went up. Now there is life on the walls, and color, and interest, and every piece we have makes my heart sing with joy when I look at it. It's timeless.

Gerrie said...

My dh and I are artaholics to some degree. We love all kinds of art and will soon have to start doing a rotation in our home so that it all can be viewed. It feeds my soul to wander the house and see the art we have purchased over the years.

Diana Parkes said...

Good article! I too like original art and purchase when I find something I can't resist. I also purchase art clothing from other artists although I usually make my own clothes, including dyeing the fabric. It is just nice to have something that someone else has devoted their skills, time, energy and vision, into an item.

Linda and Michelle said...

I buy art because it speaks to me, and I love collecting the stories behind the art. I don't remember art in the house growing up. I did see a friend of mine a number of eyars ago have her children's art work professionally framed, to instill the value of their work - I thought that was fabulous. Great post!

Maggi said...

I too collect art, although I have to admit rarely art quilts. I'm not sure why that is, possibly because I do not have the space to do them justice, but I do collect textile art pieces.

Deb Lacativa said...

I'm appalled to admit the one of the first joint purchases we made when setting up household were three framed prints..our Monet, Turner and a B&W photo of a Wolf have been hanging here and there for YEARS.

Last year Turner was finally demoted for one of my own pieces. Small steps. Time to take some more.

magsramsay said...

From my experience makers often buy from other makers - I know I have! Perhaps it's because we appreciate the time and thought that have gone into them.
I've bought several pieces over the years that 'spoke' to me , that I would never be able to (or want to) replicate.
One year at Festival of Quilts I bought a small Jo Budd piece rather than adding to my fabric stash ( Ok well maybe I bought some)
The purchased art is displayed in the dining room and parlour - the rest of the house is my work !!

Elsie Montgomery said...

Amen to this post! said...

Why don't people buy art? Well, in my case I have to justify the cost. Somehow being raised by Depression surviving parents and having a super practical personality, it's hard for me to spend money on something as intangible as beauty. Even tho I am an art quilter this line of thought dominates me. (Trying to price my work is a hardship--how to know what others would consider worth the money?!) My other reason? I've bought prints that I love and then end up getting tired of the pieces and regret spending the money on them. I guess I don't know how to choose art that is timeless and enduring.

Suzanne Sanger said...

Along these lines, I recently watched ("instantly" on Netflix) a documentary called Herb & Dorothy. It's about a NYC couple of modest means who amassed an ENORMOUS collection of contemporary art. I was fascinated, and highly recommend this one! It was filmed in 2008, possibly for PBS. If you haven't seen it, it's well worth watching.

Anonymous said...

I have an artist friend who buys her son a piece of good original art (from excellent "local" artists - she's a single mom and that's all her budget allows) for every one of his birthdays. By the time he's 18, he'll have 18 pieces of art (and my friend has taste and knowledge to go along with her great ideas, so I expect it's timeless work that won't get boring) to his name. I'd call that a pretty good investment in a child's art education.
As for myself, I've got my own quilts, a few pieces from my painter/drawer/filmmaker brother as well as photos from my photographer fiance. I've come close to buying original art, but have simply never been able to afford it. I would if I could - there's something refreshing and just plain pleasing about looking at a lovely or meaningful or moving piece that came out of someone's creative brain. Sheer human talent is mesmerizing sometimes.

Robin said...

All your points at the beginning of the post about what people waste their money on has been an ongoing dialogue between myself and a couple of artist friends. It is wonderful to be complimented on your work but compliments don't pay the bills:)
I have started collecting very small pieces of people I admire and they look wonderful as a collection on the wall. It is an affordable way to surround myself with beauty. My home never feels right until my quilts go up once we have moved.

As to others copying, this recently came up in my life and I wasn't sure how to feel about it. A woman saw a piece of mine in a gallery and couldn't afford it so she spent a lot of time (according the the gallery owners) staring at it. I am assuming that she was sketching it in her car. She asked to meet me and so I went. I told her I would like to see a picture when she was done, thinking she wouldn't actually do it since I have many times thought I would recreate something and haven't. Well a month later I get an email with an attached photo of the 'recreation' she did of my piece. The quality was NOT the same. I appreciate that she really liked the work and couldn't afford it but to spend a few afternoons trying to remember every detail to copy at home is equivalent to stealing. This wouldn't be accepted in any other medium and shouldn't be accepted. I just didn't have enough experience to handle it properly---hindsight is 20/20.
DivaQuilts handled a similar situation much more appropriately.