Reality Check: Buying Original Art

Whether you’re new to the process or a longtime collector, purchasing art is thrilling. Step into the world of artists and galleries with interior designer Nyla Freeand revive those tired walls.

Step 1: Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Art galleries are commonly located tightly within particular neighbourhoods, making them a strolling destination and an excellent way to enjoy an afternoon. The more artwork you see, the more you’ll define your tastes and interests.

Photography by Lori Andrews

Photography by Lori Andrews

 

Step 2: Don’t Be Shy
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Frequently, gallery owners keep inventory beyond what hangs on the walls. It’s perfectly fine to inquire about a favourite style and even a price point that works for you.

Step 3: Buy What You Love
Listen to your heart when purchasing artwork. If a piece elicits an emotional reaction—a childhood memory, family vacation, or perfect moment—you’ll know you’ve found something worth purchasing.

Step 4: Attend Openings
With a party in full swing and a glass of wine in hand, a gallery’s intimidation factor is diminished. In addition, it’s a great way to meet the artists and hear about their process and inspiration. Ask to be added to the mailing list of favourite galleries.

Photography by Lori Andrews

Photography by Lori Andrews

 

Step 5: No Need to Match
Matching artwork to decor is not wrong, however it isn’t necessary either. Adding interesting combinations and little surprises reflects confidence, infusing a room with personality.

Step 6: Collected Approach
No matter the period or style, collecting art requires time and education. Enlist the help and advice of art enthusiasts and dealers who can help you build on your knowledge.

Step 7: Gallery height
Hanging photographs and paintings too high creates an unwelcome distance between the viewer and the artwork. Installing pieces at gallery height (54″ to the centre of the artwork), or designer height (6″-12″ from top of furniture item) is best.

Photography by Lori Andrews

Photography by Lori Andrews

 

Step 8: Budget Wise
Think of original artwork as an investment in your home, something that increases your living enjoyment. Prices vary widely and frequently there are payment plans available. Shop college and university art sales to get great pieces at relatively low cost.

Step 9: Bring Art Home
Indecisive about a particular piece of artwork? Most galleries allow pieces to go out ‘on approval’, allowing you to view an item in the space before committing to a purchase. Some galleries offer a rent to own option.

Step 10: Open Walls, Open Mind
If you love a particular artist but have a specific concept in mind, you may want to commission an original piece. It’s fine to make a suggestion but often it’s best to allow for artistic freedom. The result may differ from your original thought, but speak more profoundly to you in the end.

3 Days in Charleston

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Day 1

MORNING Wake up early and start your day with an espresso and decadent pastry at Caviar and Bananas on George Street. Fortified, you’re ready to walk the entire Design District. Even with frequent stopping and lingering it won’t take more than three to four hours to shop ‘til you drop. Make sure to sample the honeys at Savannah Bee Company.

NOON Once you’ve worked up an appetite, have a casual lunch at Fast and French on Broad Street. A soup, sandwich and glass of wine come in around $10 so you’ll have funds for shopping. After lunch, take a horse and carriage ride down King Street and enjoy a guided historic tour. Stop at the Nathaniel Russell House or Calhoun Masion to learn more about Antebellum homes.

EVENING Eat an early dinner at FIG and you’ll have plenty of time to watch the sun set at Waterfront Park. Or, if you’re visiting in the spring or fall, take one of the Home and Garden Tours. Prepare yourself for three hours of walking. You’ll want a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a flashlight for evening tours.

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Day 2

MORNING If you are staying in the lovely Charleston Place Hotel, you’ll want to enjoy breakfast at your hotel before heading out for a day at the plantations. Hop in your rental car and take a one hour drive to Middleton Place. Linger in the gardens.

12 NOON A lowcountry lunch at the Middleton Place Restaurant is a hearty affair, but may be worth the extra hole in your belt. If you have energy after lunch head to the nearby Magnolia Plantation and enjoy their tour as well.

EVENING Head back to Charleston for a tasty dinner on East Broad Street. Try the shrimp and grits at SNOB or the oysters at Pearlz and then take a stroll on Vendue Street and finish the day with a scoop from Paolo’s Gelato.

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Day 3

MORNING It may be a good morning to sleep in and that’s just an excuse for brunch. High Cotton is an excellent choice and it’s just cross the street from the city’s best kitchen shop and cooking classes at Charleston Cooks. If you’d like to take a class, arrange it ahead of time.

AFTERNOON Spend the remainder of the afternoon poking around the city’s art galleries or finish your souvenir shopping at City Market.

EVENING It’s easier to stroll on the sidewalk of the French Quarter since cobblestone streets are tough to negotiate. Afterwards, take in the theatre at the Footlight Players.

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