Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Buying art's an art itself

By: Sonja Hidas

February 5

So you are thinking about buying a piece of art? But you have no idea how to do it. Yes, you could go to a giant home store and buy a print, maybe one that is laminated to a canvas, and pay a couple of hundred bucks. I do understand how that is convenient for people working long hours and coming home to a busy family life.

Just remember: Art is an investment in your home and something that you will be enjoying for more than a fashionable season.

The first thing you should do is relax; you know more than you think. You go shopping and find that special object you just love, it doesn’t have to match, but for some reason you just love it. You can always tie it together with colour or maybe a new pillow that brings (all the colours) together.

Now, what is beautiful to you is going to be different to others, but just remember you are the one who is going to live with it. Others can buy whatever art they love for their home or office.

My other advice is not to be afraid to go big — size does matter. (Buying too small) is like buying a rug that is too small; it ends up floating, detached from the rest of the objects in the room.

Oh, yes, the question you have been wondering about; where do you go? That’s the fun part. Think of it as an adventure, a story you probably will re-tell to your guests when they admire your art.

I have two stories that come to my mind. One painting I purchased at a garage sale. I am ashamed to tell you what I paid. It was under $10. Yes, I could tell it was a quality antique painting, not something everyone is interested in, but I appreciate history. Years later I researched the artist by contacting the archiving department at The National gallery of Canada and found my garage purchase was valued more around $3,000.

The second story? Through an artist friend, I was told about the Art Gallery of Mississauga’s Annual Mississauga Art Auction, which I talked my husband into attending. Luckily for him, there was no hockey that night. It was a live and silent auction, and we ended up purchasing two pieces. The first was from a local artist with whom I was familiar and who had won some awards for his work. The second painting I loved had no other bidders. We purchased it for $100, an incredible deal.

Buying art can be a confusing and overwhelming task, at first. Take your time. Every weekend there are shows happening at Visual Arts Mississauga, or The Living Arts Centre, at The Photo Festival in the fall, and at commercial galleries in Port Credit and Streetsville, There is also a rental program at The Art Gallery of Mississauga at City Hall.

You can use your computer to do the prelimiminary research. You just might find a local artist living near your home. E-mail an artist who will be more than happy to be found. You might also ask to visit his/her studio and meet the artist. Then you will have a story to tell.

Enjoy your search!

Sonja Hidas is a Mississauga resident, visual artist and writer.
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