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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.

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