I always have my finger on the pulse, don't I! (At least when I'm not posting links to month-old magazines.) One step ahead of the mass media: after yesterday's post about my shock at someone's large profits from an investment in art, today's New York Times House & Home section has a couple of articles about buying art!
The Terrible Toll of Art Anxiety
“'Mr. No-Name Hedge Fund Manager'”... [is] in his 30s, probably worth 20-some million and feels poor because his personal net worth has gone down from 26 million since last summer,” Mr. Greenspan said. “He buys a Park Avenue apartment for $7 million, spends another $7 million decorating it, and now he quibbles over $15,000 or $18,000 for a painting.”I totally have art paralysis. The most I have ever spent on a piece of art itself is about $50, if you don't include framing. (Framing would bring it up to somewhere under $200.) It's not that I don't like art: I love a wide variety of art, I go to museums and buy lots of postcards, just to keep, and I probably have a couple thousand dollars worth of beautiful art books. But when it comes to buying art, I choke. I value art, but not enough to carve out a big chunk of my budget for it. I also have this weird thing of thinking I should just create my own art. I studied art, I'm at least somewhat good at it, and the one big painting of my own that is hanging in my living room often gets compliments from people who are then shocked to hear that it's my own creation. But it's not like I can just whip up some masterpiece: creativity takes inspiration and time, and often, expensive materials. I should reconsider Rule #9: DIY vs. PAY in relation to art, perhaps!
Art paralysis: It is a widespread and often crippling malady, striking everyone from the new college grad in his or her first apartment to the super-rich banker, lasting anywhere from a few months to a lifetime. How many are affected is not known, perhaps because the victims are often too embarrassed to come forth. Who wants to admit that “I’ve had these posters since college, I know that as one of the American Top 10 Orthodontists I should get some real art, but I don’t know what that means”? Or that “It’s not that I’m trying to make a minimalist statement with these empty white walls, I just don’t know what to buy”? Or “I walk into those snooty galleries in Chelsea and feel like I just don’t belong”?
Back to the NY Times article, they recommend these sources for people who either can't afford expensive art or don't have the emotional energy needed to deal with snooty galleries:
TINYSHOWCASE.COM Offers a quirky selection of small, inexpensive art and letterpress prints.
LITTLEPAPERPLANES.COM Limited edition prints of contemporary drawings and paintings starting at $20.
GIANTROBOT.COM Eclectic art and prints from a store that specializes in Asian and Asian-American pop culture, from $5 to $1,000.
CEREALART.COM Multiple-edition sculptural objects by established artists like Kenny Scharf and Takashi Murakami, from $100 to $20,000.
20X200.COM Offers two new high quality prints a week in limited editions.
WHITECUBE.COM Limited editions by well-known figures like Damien Hirst and Sam Taylor-Wood from a major London gallery, starting at around $250.
Buy From Arts Organizations
BLINDSPOT.COM Limited-edition photographic prints, 11 by 14 inches and 16 by 20 inches, starting at $700
APERTURE.ORG Limited-edition photographs from $350 to $25,000 that you can browse by price, category or photographer.
PRINTSHOP.ORG Single pieces and complete installations by emerging artists from the Lower East Side Printshop, from $1,500 to $10,000.
WHITECOLUMNS.ORG Specially commissioned editions by emerging and established artists from $150 to $1,500; work can be viewed online and ordered by phone or e-mail.
Try Fund-Raising Auctions
Fund-raisers at hospitals, private schools and other organizations often auction work by emerging and established artists at cut-rate prices, as do arts organizations like the Kitchen in New York (thekitchen.org).
Attend Art Fairs
Public art fairs — small, neighborhood events and large shows like the Affordable Art Fair in New York (June 12 to 15, aafnyc.com) — allow visitors space and time to figure out what they like and to buy in a shopper-friendly environment.
Attend Thesis Exhibitions
The chance to discover artists before their work hits galleries. In New York, Cooper Union, Columbia, Hunter College, the School of Visual Arts, Parsons and Pratt all have such shows.
I personally would also add the group shows put on by the Brooklyn Working Artists Coalition in Red Hook. Not all the stuff is great, but some is, and everything is usually quite reasonable in price.
Finally, the Times also profiles Jen Bekman, the woman who runs 20x200.com, who has had an amazing roller-coaster of a career: from switchboard operator to dot-commer, to gallery owner to online art dealer!
Few people in that world had heard of Ms. Bekman five years ago, when she used credit cards and the $20,000 in her 401(k) to open Jen Bekman Gallery, on Spring Street near the Bowery.
Yikes! But apparently the business has done well. And here's another thing I liked about the story:
But unlike city dwellers who celebrate their success by moving to a nicer apartment or by upgrading their appliances, Ms. Bekman, now 38, is content to remain in her old space [a small studio in the East Village]. She lives there with her dog, Ollie; a white vintage Chambers stove she bought at a thrift shop for $400 seven years ago; a goofy ceramic bulldog with glass eyes from Woolworth’s; and a few new inexpensive furnishings, like brightly colored striped sheets.
Glad to hear she's keeping her overhead low and can appreciate inexpensive pleasures. Her only problem may be that she'll start running out of wall space for all her art!