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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Value of Art

The decision to purchase art can be fraught with anxiety. It’s a very personal experience; after all, the artwork you choose to hang on your wall is an outward expression of who you are.  Just like the clothes you wear and how you accessorize it with the right jewelry, the right shoes, the right haircut. How do you know it’s right? Sometimes its because you trust your own judgment, your own sense of style. And sometimes its because you’ve seen that “look”  in a catalog or a magazine. 
Purchasing artwork is really the same thing.  Some may think of artwork as an accessory. Maybe you are trying to replicate a look that you saw in a magazine.  Or maybe you have a color scheme that the art needs to work with. Or maybe you have your own sense of style—you buy a painting because it speaks to you. There is an emotional connection that is almost palpable. And if the piece doesn’t match the sofa, so what? You’ll get a new sofa to go with the painting!

Why do we look to others to validate our choices, whether for a new hairstyle, a new car or a piece of art? Most of us are not art experts. We’re not sure if the art is good. Understanding what makes a piece of art good can go a long way to quelling the fears that you’ve just purchased a $1500 painting that “my kid could’ve done.” So, what makes for “good art?”

Whether the art you are interested in is a photograph, a representational painting, an abstract painting or a piece of sculpture, certain elements work together to give the artwork balance. This balance can be achieved through use of color, line, value and shape. This is part of    composition, which can be described as the work’s overall design. A good work of art should have a focal point, which in essence is the “plot” of the story. The focal point is then supported by other elements which help to move your eye around the painting, photograph or sculpture.
That’s sort of the Reader’s Digest version of what technically makes a piece of art “good.” But there is the other side, the emotional side. How does the artwork make you feel? Do you feel drawn into it? Does it make you feel excited and full of energy? Does it make you feel peaceful and relaxed? Or does it make you stop and ponder what the artist is communicating? Good art should make you feel something every time you look at it. Otherwise it is just wallpaper.

One of the advantages to purchasing art from a gallery is that the gallery staff is knowledgeable about art and is happy to tell you about the artists and their work.  Since acquiring art is a personal experience, and since the art you choose is an outward expression of who you are, knowing about the artist, maybe even meeting the artist, is an important part of the art buying process, and gives the artwork value beyond the purchase price.

Feel free to stop by the Gallery at Old Town Art and Framery and look around. Ask yourself which piece (or pieces) you are drawn to. Ask questions - really, we love to talk about the art and the artists - and we're not going to push you out the door if you tell us you are "just looking."  Our hours are posted at the top of this page.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Art Destinations...Santa Fe, New York... Fort Collins?

Seems like every where you turn these days, you are hearing or reading something about the Green Movement.  Part of this trend is to encourage people to buy local, play local, support local. Besides the obvious benefits of wasting less gas, energy and time, the real benefit to buying local is supporting the community in which you live. Our community, Fort Collins, is rich with resources. We’ve got great recreational areas, wonderful schools, beautiful neighborhoods, a vital downtown. And we’ve got a community of artists that is second to none. 
When you are thinking about redoing your family room, or finally purchasing the     perfect piece of art for over your mantel, the decision to purchase from a local gallery, as opposed to finding something from Hobby Lobby or Pier One, is a decision that impacts the community in which you live. All of the galleries in Old Town Fort Collins feature the work of local or regional artists. Every dollar you spend purchasing art form local artists benefits the community. It tells the artists "we value you".
Lest you think that the art created by local artists in Fort Collins is somehow “substandard”, the truth is that we have many artists who can’t sell in Fort Collins but have made a great living selling in other areas: Denver, Santa Fe, Taos, New York, Atlanta, Laguna Beach, Oklahoma City and Chicago, to name a few. Their collectors—even those who live in the Fort Collins area, travel to these “art destinations” to purchase their work—and often pay more for the “privilege!”
We’ve taken trips to the “art destinations” and are struck by three things – artists are truly valued, there are LOTS of galleries and it doesn’t take an accountant to be able to figure out that art can – and does – bring a lot of revenue to a city. Take a trip to Santa Fe to see first hand how a thriving art economy brings in art enthusiasts, who spend lots of money buying art, eating at restaurants and staying at hotels.
We’d love to see Fort Collins become an Art Mecca. But first we’ve got to support our artists and galleries, and buy art locally – whether it is art for your home or office. Whether it is an original painting, a sculpture, a limited-edition giclĂ©e, a photograph, piece of pottery or a beautiful glass vase – these are all things that can be purchased from a local gallery.  And not only do you end up with a beautiful piece of art, you are helping to grow Fort Collins into an art destination.
That would be good for all of us.