Two large reproductions dominate my doctor's
waiting room. Their triple mats and four-inch gold frames exclaim: "Look
at this expensive art!" Yet, none of the patients even glance at the
reproductions of a cityscape and a still life. There's nothing wrong with
buying a poster of art that touches you. Who can afford a Van Gogh? My gripe
is with "art by the yard" that publishing companies offer in pastels
or earth tones and in pseudo cubist, impressionist, or old master styles.
You'll see such elaborately framed, emotionally empty reproductions selling
from between $500 to $1,000 in upscale furniture stores.
I've asked myself why such decorative
reproductions are the rule and original art the exception in homes and
businesses? Do buyers trust the taste of publishing companies over their own?
It's not just a question of price. Last month, at a Chico Art Center benefit,
40 large paintings by local artists were
auctioned off at an average of $550 each. Hundreds of talented north state
artists, unless famous, sell their work at exceedingly modest prices. If my
doctor were to hang paintings by local artists in his waiting room, their
originality might entrance the captive patient audience and even calm their anxieties.
It takes time-but not nearly as much money as you
might think-to become an art patron. The rewards to yourself, your family, and
your community are manifold. Here are five reasons to start collecting.
Original art nourishes our souls. Products of mass production and visual manipulation surround us. To display unique
visions of the world reminds us of our deeper
humanity. Many a commercial artist yearns to
"follow his/her bliss" rather than
to please a client, such as a publisher of reproductions.
A freely creating artist is a seeker, always
striving to express elusive personal visions. Such
artists enlarge our hearts and minds by
letting us try on their viewpoints.
The difference between a "ho-hum" decorative
reproduction and an original painting is like
the difference between the taste of fast food
and a home cooked meal, or the sound of
supermarket Musak compared to a live "jam
session" in a coffee house. While mass culture images exert pressure on us
to conform and consume, fine art serves as an antidote
by reminding us of the quirky, unpredictable,
exploratory, and magically inventive qualities
of the human imagination.
Good art in our environment gives our right brain hemisphere a stimulating workout.
Western culture emphasizes left brainpower that is analytical, objective and logical.
That's only half of who we are. The visual arts exercise the right hemisphere that
deals in patterns and intuitive and
subjective experiences. Just as a home
benefits from having collections of books
and music, hanging original art on the walls
enriches it. Art quickens sensibilities by introducing
unexpected views of life. I remember leaving
an exhibition of impressionist landscapes and
noticing with newly sensitized eyes, the glory
of sun shining through leaves.
Collecting expresses personal
taste. Let's re-consider a commonly sneered at saying: "I'm looking for a
painting to match my couch." An environment where paintings, furniture and
architecture mutually reinforce themes, colors and shapes is a thrill to experience.
If you take pleasure in selecting the color palette of a room and patterns
and textures of furniture, collecting paintings
can be your next step in self-expression.
For those who are remodeling or have
moved into a new home, I'd recommend
starting with a painting that you love, and selecting the couch, other
furnishings and wall and floor colors to enhance it.
us to participate in art events. Collecting
provides an entree into a stimulating,
creative circle. No sitting at home watching TV
when there are art openings, lectures and
studio tours to attend. Ask artists about their
motivations and give them feedback on your
responses to their work. Make new friends
among other art lovers as you share insights-while
sipping a glass of wine!
Collectors support the
vitality of an art community.
When you purchase a painting by a local artist, you validate her/his
creative vision. Artists stay where they
experience recognition. It's generally understood that a community thrives when
people support local businesses and athletic events-supporting the arts is every bit as
beneficial to an area's quality
Chico artists have enlivened our downtown by renting empty second story spaces for studios.
Many offer classes that encourage adults
and children to become more creative. They have beautified the city through
murals, art benches and public sculptures, helping to give a sense of identity
to our community.
A Chico collector of art, David Ruiz, sums up what
I've tried to convey. "Art satisfies a hunger for experiencing the best that
humans have to offer. Disposable products, such as electronic gadgets that are built to become
obsolete, inundate our culture. By contrast,
good art has an enduring quality. I need
to own some things that are meant to last.
In collecting art, you have to trust your gut reaction, and when you see something you really
love, you should buy