Sunday, August 26, 2012

The First Acquisition

Buying 'Summer' and 'Fall' at the Timmel Collection, Saugatuck, MI
Jim and I spent the past weekend celebrating our 16th anniversary in Saugatuck, Michigan. We hadn't been there in over a decade, I believe, so it was a good time to go back for a short getaway. We had a very nice stay, but what the most memorable part of the trip will be that - after a good deal of reading up on art collecting and consideration about actually doing it - I finally took the plunge and made my first purchase!

Or I should say 'purchases'!  I picked up two paintings by Chicago-area artist Darren Jones. I hadn't planned on buying anything of this kind during this trip. I'd just figured I was going to bum around the shops and have a nice anniversary weekend. Although we were planning to gallery hop, I figured I would do my usual lurker routine: walking around, salivating over a few items, but not daring to buy anything.

Of course, I'd been giving collecting serious thought after it occurred to me that I would be interested in it as a...passion ('hobby' seems like such a poor word for this). I'd also done a good bit of reading on the subject, as well as getting back into learning about what was going on in contemporary art. How do people collect? What things do you keep in mind in choosing a piece? A big part of this was reading interviews with major fine art collectors and hearing them relate how they got started and what drives them. Still, each time I considered making a purchase, there was this hesitation and I'd walk away empty-handed. Art is not cheap, and I feared a painful bout of buyer's remorse if I regretted my purchase later.

This time, however, things were different. Of course I really liked the work by Darren Jones that I saw at the Timmel Collection in downtown Saugatuck, but I'd liked a lot of other things too and not pulled the trigger. The difference was that, after we left the gallery the first time and I had not bought, I was filled by a sense of futility and frustration. Like a diver at the end of the springboard, afraid to take the plunge. We've been in our house 14 years and there are a lot of walls with no artwork or artwork that I'm not all that crazy about. Why was I allowing this? What was I waiting for?

Spring, 2010 Darren Jones Mixed medium, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24”
While Jim and I were at lunch I talked the whole thing through with him. One: I had done a quick web investigation and checked out Jones' website and artist statement. Liked what I read. Check.  Two: I'm not being a flake about this. I have a god deal of art education, and I know what I like (and, far more importantly, why I like it), so I'm not going to buy something dreadful. Check. Three: All the collectors I read about emphasized you have to start with what you like, even as they each evolved their collections into something with a (sometimes very tight) focus. These paintings definitely fit with what I like about and respond to in art. Check. Four: I was not buying these paintings as an investment or with the dream of making a fortune when Jones became the next Big Artist, died, and all his works soared into the six-figure range for auction estimates. I was buying them to have something in my home that I enjoy, that has personal meaning for me, and that I think are beautiful. Check. Five: I could think of several places in the house the paintings could go, so there was a definite functional aspect to this purchase. Check. Six: The idea of two pieces of a similar style and yet with the sharp color contrast these two works have adds to the appeal. Check. Lots of good reasons.

Done. Went in, made the purchase, and I have to say I had such a rush afterwards! Buying a painting may not seem like a big deal but, if you love art and are serious about what you are buying, I assure you it is a very big deal! I made the artist working at the gallery who helped us with the purchase (he's not Darren Jones) get into the picture above with me. Yes, I geeked out. But this is a first step into a larger world, so I had no desire to restrain myself from geeking out. I've made a life-long passion into something concrete, and that makes me very happy.

Fall, 2010 Darren Jones
Mixed medium, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24”

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