The Artful Eye

How to pick artwork for your home

Whether you love passionate, fiery abstract prints, delicate, detailed floral paintings or exquisite photography, you can find what you love at local galleries. Local experts Jack Garver, director at Fanny Garver Gallery and Gary Milward, owner of Gary’s Art and Frame and Milward Farrell Fine Art, share their top tips.

How do you guide buyers in what to look for?

Milward: It’s a personal taste. I talk to them about the space, the size of work they might need and the feeling that the room will get. You probably wouldn’t want a really bold abstract in the bedroom, for example.
Garver: I encourage people to buy what they like, as opposed to something that’s an investment, or something that will match the sofa. I always say their first impression is the way to go.
M: We do show people how something that contrasts [with their décor] can be more of a statement. Sometimes the piece might match the couch, and sometimes it doesn’t. If someone’s going to buy something, they have to connect with it.

What are guidelines you give customers on framing?

G: You choose the framing for the piece, not to match home décor. The purpose of framing is to focus on the piece, so I choose framing that not only looks good for the work, but focuses the eye.
M: As a framer we look to present the work in the way it best protects it. So a photograph would likely be matted and under glass. Same with an oil painting, depending on the subject. Or we might do a “floater,” which is a clean edge applied to the painting so it floats, and you can still see the edges.
All of the materials we use are museum-quality. So our glass is UV-filtering. There are just various grades and price points in framing products, but we can frame to fit any budget.

How does a buyer know a work’s authenticity?

G: That’s what we’re there for. We offer artists with a proven track record. I’m always looking for new, emerging artists—someone who has a new slant on what people might like, whether it’s landscapes or figurative work.
M: There are so many different places to buy art now, online, here at our gallery, et cetera. If you’re looking at a blue-chip artist, it usually has the provenance and where it’s been recently. But not all art comes with a certificate of authenticity. If you love a piece of art, that’s the most important part.

What’s the most valuable piece of art you’ve encountered?

M: We’ve had Audubon prints, Picasso etchings and Miró lithographs. Some of these have come in for framing and people have been unaware of what they have.

Do you appraise these for people?

M: No, I use a conservator here in town and we’ve had clients amazed at what they have. I just had two Toulouse-Lautrecs and a Picasso and the people didn’t realize what they had—they knew their relatives had collected nice things but they didn’t know what they were worth. They had some real treasures.

What trends do you see in art collecting in the next few years?

G: I’d say 2008 and 2009 was not good in the art world. But this last year we just had a stellar year. People were nervous for a while about spending any money. But, people are buying things for their homes again. I think people will come back to buying original art. In the last few years the art world was inundated by reproductions, called giclées, and people realize that’s not the real thing. They want to buy the real thing, not a copy. And original art is affordable!

Shayna Miller is associate and style editor of Madison Magazine.
 

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