So you want to put some art up.
Do you want your decor to reflect your life, your community, your reality? Or would you rather go for a mass-produced, trendy piece you can find on a grocery run to a big box store? If you’re looking for a piece that is a bit more meaningful, we’re here to help.
Original art is the pinnacle of home decor. It sets beautiful home environments apart from merely pleasant ones. Art leaves a lasting impression on those who view it. It also affects the soul.
“My aunt was a super unusual lady,” remembers Wendy Westlake, artist and owner of Rochester’s 535 Gallery.
“She was well educated, she was the dean of students at Oxford College, she had art in her home. I remember going to her house, her apartment, and seeing some really cool art. One of them was this piece by Käthe Kollwitz, it was a charcoal drawing, it was a print, I’m sure, because the original would’ve been super expensive. It’s just an iconic memory from my childhood. When my aunt passed away, my mother got that piece, when my mother passed away, then my sister had that piece. I go to my sister’s house and I see that and, it’s a family tie. It makes me recall all kinds of memories of family, just that piece of artwork.”
It takes a strong piece of art to create such a deep and lasting impression, both mentally and also through familial legacy. Even if your goal isn’t to have your next art purchase echo through your family tree quite as profoundly as Westlake’s aunt’s piece, it will undoubtedly give your home a sense of uniqueness.
Before you get to feel that, though, you need a bit of time for reflection. There are a few things you need to ask when searching for quality art to adorn your home.
It starts with something as simple as what size art do I want?
Trending right now is larger pieces of art that creates a statement, makes you stop and take notice.
535 Gallery specializes in oversized paintings and artworks by respected area artists. It’s a size-point that is gaining in popularity. “I see design trends being very large scale artwork,” said Westlake. “I see it in place of the wallpaper trend, some people are doing that. They want something with big impact that will make a design impression on their home.” Some of the pieces can act like wallpaper, but are more versatile, since they can be taken with you if you move, or passed on to family.
While you can find large-scale pieces in big box stores, they won’t have the quality you’ll find at a gallery. Which leads to the next set of inquiries to make before making an art purchase.
Westlake says it’s important to buy quality artwork. For a novice art buyer, though, quality may be hard to recognize. For a sure read on quality, look to an art professional. Westlake has, in the past, had to turn things down that had been submitted to her gallery because of quality issues. That’s the kind of quality control you can expect from a gallery.
Next, ask some questions about the artist. Westlake recommends the following: What kind of experience does the artist have? Where else has the artist sold? Where have they exhibited?
“Even if that painter themselves isn’t well known or famous, it can still be fantastically quality artwork,” said Westlake. “It’s not like the emperor’s new clothes, you’re not going to have this huge regret, we’re going to walk you through it and make sure that it’s something that you really feel comfortable about purchasing.”
Finally, ask yourself some questions. How do you feel about their work? What drew you to the piece? After all, you’re the one that’s going to be viewing the piece day in and day out, so you want to make sure the piece speaks to you.
“There’s this idea of, almost like an academia,” said Westlake. “I don’t think that artwork that’s serving a more decorative purpose cannot be very quality artwork that can become…family heirlooms. There’s no shame in me for things being decorative. To me, if it’s the right colors for you home and it’s the right size, that can be enough.”
Taking all of these questions into consideration, you’ll be ready to start the hunt for the perfect piece of art for your home.