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Ann Arbor art dealer

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Virtuous: Panel Discussion & Opening

Update: A full video of the discussion can be viewed here

Our first opening took place this past Thursday and we couldn't be happier with the turn out and support we received from the community. Virtuous, is a series of illustrations by contemporary artist Jermaine Dickerson, focusing on comic book style technique and content. I was first drawn to his work because his technical acumen but was blown away by the stories behind the content. He's very committed to the genre and wanted to create new work surrounding the Michael Brown and Ferguson incidents and how they were conveyed in the media. 

Our landlord was nice enough to let us use the vacant space next door (now leased - yay, neighbors!) for the panel discussion which got filled and was standing room only by the end. Here are some highlights of the panel which included Richard Rubenfeld, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Eastern Michigan University; exhibiting artist Jermaine Dickerson; James Conniff, resident comic book expert of Fun 4 All Comics; Jesse Rubenfeld, illustrator and artist; and Curtis Sullivan, co-owner and founder of Vault of Midnight. 

Dr. Richard Rubenfeld moderated an hour of topics in comic books including diversity, real life superheroes, powers and women in comic books.

Dr. Richard Rubenfeld moderated an hour of topics in comic books including diversity, real life superheroes, powers and women in comic books.

Exhibiting artist Jermaine Dickerson. 

Exhibiting artist Jermaine Dickerson. 

We even had a professional filmmaker in the house!

We even had a professional filmmaker in the house!

The panel closed out with a Q&A session. 

The panel closed out with a Q&A session. 

Curtis Sullivan gets his point across.

Curtis Sullivan gets his point across.

Our dashing panel. 

Our dashing panel. 

A successful night indeed! #Virtuous

A successful night indeed! #Virtuous

The show is open through the end of March and there are still a few pieces available for purchase. The first hour we sold four pieces from the exhibit. Very successful, we'd say! For more information about our upcoming events, check out our exhibitions page here

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Art, Lately

After the winter hibernation, spring is one of my favorite times of year for art-seeing. There's revived energy, excitement and the exhibition season is taking off with high expectations with our first event tomorrow night. 

This past week has been a packed schedule of artist visits and just some cool pieces along the way. 

A detail of a painting by Molly Diana, our November 2015 artist.

A detail of a painting by Molly Diana, our November 2015 artist.

Screenprinted fabrics at Stamps School of Art & Design

Screenprinted fabrics at Stamps School of Art & Design

A piece from the MFA at Stamps

A piece from the MFA at Stamps

Another piece from the MFA show

Another piece from the MFA show

A few of the pieces from Margaret Hitch's 24 piece series. See it in its entirety this October.

A few of the pieces from Margaret Hitch's 24 piece series. See it in its entirety this October.

A piece from the Graduate show at Ford Gallery at EMU

A piece from the Graduate show at Ford Gallery at EMU

John Murrel at Ford Gallery at EMU

John Murrel at Ford Gallery at EMU

Get out there. See some art. Be inspired.

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Partnering with Ann Arbor Art Center

Back in 1999, I transferred to the University of Michigan School of Art & Design, after conceding to the fact that I wasn't "cutthroat" enough to handle fashion at SAIC. I was feeling a little glum about the whole thing. But Ann Arbor Art Center paved the way for my art career in many ways that Fall. 

I started working as an intern in the Office of Education with an incredible group of people, many of which I still consider dear friends today. First, I learned how to manage a supply closet and move easels and tables and chairs around. Then I was given the responsibility of calling models for life drawing class and brainstorming for fun, new classes for kids. From there my administrative responsibilities sprouted into running quick workshops, then birthday parties and ultimately, classes in painting, drawing and ceramics (clay on the wheel). Over five years, not only did my understanding of art education and administration grow, but I also learned an invaluable lesson about myself. I was meant to do this! 

Now, 15 years later I'm back and equipped with knowledge and excitement in being able to help with this priceless organization. 

As the third oldest arts organization in Michigan (it even precedes UM's academic arts program), it serves thousands of children and adults annually with classes, events, outreach, exhibition opportunities and more. Recently, our friend Omari Rush mentioned partnering on a consulting basis. As Director of Public Programs, his role is to find and place resources advantageous not only for the Center but for the arts community as a whole. 

The Center receives requests regularly for art consulting and buying. And now I'll be the person to execute those requests! I'll handle private and corporate consulting issues including acquisition, assessments (and some appraisals in my field of specialty, American impressionism and modernism), selling, framing, maintenance and studio visits. Our foremost priority is to endorse and draw from the wealth of local artists. 

I have a lot of familiarizing to do and I can't wait to do it. Beyond that, clients can request research on art outside of the area, but we're going to strive to sell local first.

And now comes the best part — I'm asking that if you have an art consulting request, you call the Center for a referral. Why? Because every one originating from them will result in a portion of proceeds going straight to them. I love being back in the area and I see this as a wonderful way to return the generosity of knowledge the Center equipped me with years ago. 

If you're looking to finally choose a piece for the foyer, start a collection or build upon an existing one, I urge you to call the Ann Arbor Art Center at 734-994-8004 and they'll send you my way. 

Thank you!

 

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Prepping for the Launch

Getting a physical space ready for ourselves is bigger and badder than other projects we've worked on. We revamped the logo to match the architectural feel of our studio - a late 19th century storefront. This is something we wouldn't normally do but the sans serif lines of our previous logo didn't match the feel of the building or the furniture and objects we're planning to decorate with. 

To celebrate our opening, we're having an awesome photo session giveaway! Go to our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter pages to enter! There's 4 chances per person to win. 

Our first day of business is 11/11 - come by and say "hello!" 

 

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The key! 

The key! 

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Why the Selling of Pieces From the DIA's Collection Might Not Be the Worst Thing After All

The threat of pieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts being sold off popped up in the news again today. I've been stewing over my professional response for a few months. (I used to curate exhibitions and deal American works of art — artists like Alexander Calder, William Merritt Chase, Mary Cassatt with "mid level" price points, $30,000-500,000. One of my previous clients is a well-known collector and avid supporter and lender to the DIA).

When asked, I gave my personal response. Personally, I was adamantly against it. It seemed like a cop out to commodify our regional treasures. Like many in the art community, and particularly those of us that have visited the DIA and relish memories and works from the collection, I was vehemently against this ghastly idea. At first. 

Now don't get me wrong. I still think it's terribly sad and agree with the Museum that it may have a detrimental effect on Detroit's daily and longterm economy but there are a few silver linings, at least from an art world standpoint. Here are a few reasons why.

WE DON'T GET TO SEE MOST OF IT ANYWAY. Museums are fancy storage facilities with exact humidity and temperature control. Some things they show, the majority they do not. They simply can't. During conversations with colleagues in the industry, I've heard estimates that the Art Institute of Chicago shows less than a quarter of its collection. The DIA has 66,000 of which 35,000 are said to be owned by the city and being evaluated for condition and appraised by Christie's. I don't know exactly how much of their collection but we are indeed missing the bulk of it when we visit. 

THESE ART WORKS WILL GET THEIR DUE SPOTLIGHT. Auctions are the barometer of the art industry accounting for about 25% of the market. Even though only a minute percentage will ever dabble in multi-million dollar bidding wars, when auctions do well, the trickle down effect for the art industry is a good one. It's estimated that in 2012, the art industry did $64 billion

If and when the DIA's paintings, sculptures, drawings and objects go to auction they're going to be waltzed across a global stage. Every collector that will potentially ever want that piece is going to be watching and that's just what those pieces deserve.

AND, WAR PUMPS UP SALES FOR ARTISTS. EVEN FOR US LITTLE GUYS DOWN HERE. Let's look at an example. Maybe twenty people in the world that collect art want this triptych:

Francis Bacon,  Three Studies of Lucian Freud 1969 (Christie's.com)

Francis Bacon, Three Studies of Lucian Freud 1969 (Christie's.com)

But only seven* of them can afford it. Five of them have capped themselves. That leaves two bidders (on the phone, have a dealer bidding for them on the phone, are sitting on the internet or waving their paddle wildly in the crowd) to fight over it. That's how much a painting is ever worth - how ever high two people with an agenda are willing to go. 

When people start to read about art being used as a commodity, our ears can't help but perk up and we start to take more interest. People start to notice their blank walls, think about acquiring art at the next fair, see themselves joining the exclusive club. Being a "collector" is a status symbol and we all want to be a part of it. With the sale of DIA works, we're going to think twice about taking our public collections for granted. Or so the recent media attention says.

*There were indeed seven battling bidders that pushed the Francis Bacon to break the record for any piece ever sold, ending at $142.4 million at Christie's earlier this month (this includes the 12% buyer's fee).

YOU (OR YOUR GRANDKIDS) WILL SEE THE WORKS AGAIN. AT ANOTHER MUSEUM. Museum-goers (aka common folk like me) sometimes complain that when things are bought privately, we never get to see prized works ever again. Recently, certain tax laws have made it less savory to donors to bequeath their paintings, but there are and will always be collectors that want to leave a legacy. And because art is cyclical in nature (i.e. genres come in and out of vogue, estates unearth works of art to be auctioned off or bequeathed to museums, children sell their parents' collections, curators thrust exhibits into the limelight requiring loans of works from private collections) it's likely your favorite DIA piece will one day see the light of day, at a museum, again.

GOING BACK TO START. I don't like the idea of pieces being sold because they have to be either. I love the feeling of going to the DIA. I don't even have to look at any one work for a long amount of time, I just like to breathe in the atmosphere of the American wing and odors of oil. I just have to remember and keep telling myself, the DIA won't go away and the sale of many pieces would be a PR boon (albeit another sad one) for Detroit. I've decided to look at this like everything else that involves the impending bankruptcy, brazen upstarts and savvy entrepreneurs — this could be an opportunity for the Museum to garner new art, new donors, a fresh start.

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10 Questions About Art, Design and Photography That You Always Wanted to Ask but Never Thought You'd Get the Straight Answers To

1. Why does it cost so much? The answer depends on where you're looking at the piece you're considering. Are you in a gallery? Consider the industry practice of 50% that goes to the dealer, the cost of framing, installation that's sometimes taken out of the artist's cut, sometimes the dealer covers, marketing and advertising, overhead (electric, rent, phone bill, etc). Are you at an art fair? Consider the insurance premiums, travel, hotel cost, shipping materials, gas/airfare for the artist and the blood, sweat and tears. You're going to pay a premium but in this case, you may feel a personal connection to the artist and you have an opportunity to meet and learn about his or her work ethic, inspiration and vision. And that's priceless.

If you're buying a piece by a "known artist", which I personally define as someone that has an auction record, studied in academic realms and is being shown in museums, or represented by a reputable gallery, you're going to pay a premium because they're sought after no matter what the subject matter, even if they're considered a conceptual artist. Art prices driven into seven figures has to do with precedent set at auction and high end private transactions. Since auctions account for about a quarter of the art market, you can imagine how much it influences numbers.

If you're vacationing and in a tourist gallery, you're going to pay a premium whether the artist is known or unknown. Do not buy things based on what you're hearing or what returns the dealer tells you are possible in the future. If you go to Hawaii and buy a $5,000 painting of a dolphin jumping out of the water, you better love the hell outta that dolphin. For a long time.

Painting by Jeff Wilkie

2. Do you shoot Canon or Nikon or something else? And does it matter?

People almost always ask this. Since its origin photography continues to be made more accessible to consumers. Does this mean there are more photographers out there? No, just more people that can take pictures. Photography literally breaks down to "light writing" meaning the ability to control or work with light to capture a scene or moment. Those that feel what you shoot with makes a difference are the same that thought Dippin Dots revolutionized ice cream. Cameras cost different prices so that camera companies can establish multiple markets. Sure, some cameras generate much larger files and/or capture repeatedly much faster than others, and if you have that need then that's your answer, but realistically the entry level dSLR can achieve the same results, given the knowledge of controlling light.

3. Should I buy that painting?

If you love it/want to support the artist/know that you're buying it to enjoy yourself and not impress anyone, then yes.

4. Where should I hang it?

Measure the height of the piece and make a note of the midpoint. That mark should hang 60 inches up from the floor. This is general rule of thumb and widely practiced by professionals in the field. If it's larger than say, 20 inches in any direction, don't hang it in a hallway where you can't stand far away to get the full effect. Most people hang art too high and generally on a wall that's not proportional to the piece. An 8 x 10 inch frame will look awfully lonely on a large wall by itself. A piece that size is better housed on an accent wall, nook or with other pieces around it.

Also consider humidity, how much direct sun and the amount of air conditioning that is directed at the piece. Oil paintings are extremely delicate to extreme changes in temperature and photographs should never be hung in direct sun. If you have the opportunity to, work with a professional framer so they can advise you on what kind of glass each piece should be housed under.

5. Why does the one on top cost more than the one on the bottom?

In an era when upholstery was king in the household, husband and wife team Charles and Ray Eames's collaboration in answering a previous design flaw (from a competition that Charles had entered with architect and designer Eero Saarinen) resulted in the ubiquitous Eames Lounge Chair Wood or what is known in the industry as LCW. With two separate pieces and particular construction of separate molded wood and rubber mounts, the technology used to create this multi-layer chair was cutting edge at the time.

It was eventually noticed by George Nelson at Herman Miller at continues to be manufactured to their specific material and design plans today. The reason the chair on the top costs so much is because it's a piece of art even though it's been replicated many times. It can be resold, although some versions of LCW may resell for more than others depending on demand, quantity of that particular model and condition of each piece. On top of the quality and materials, you're also paying a premium for the licensing namesake.

The chair on the bottom is a knock-off of the Eames LCW, looks about the same (although the variation in the plywood on the bottom is not nearly as marbled or visually interesting as the Eames), but the construction and design will not be of the same caliber. It will also not resell or appreciate over time.

6. How long should I linger at a piece when I'm at the museum?

Image via History Lines

There's no simple answer to this but generally, I believe that most people don't look long enough. Find the ones that speak to you and try to figure out why. What elements draw you to the piece. How do the colors make you feel? Will this stick with you after you leave? Are you intrigued to do some research about this artist after you leave? I hope these few questions may spark your viewing experience the next time you visit a museum.

7. When will it be worth more?

If you're buying a work by a "known artist" (see #1), generally a decade will yield some sort of return higher or at least slightly higher than what you bought it for. That is, unless you overpaid for it in the first place (again, refer to #1 for a definition of where you might over pay for something). If you've been given a certificate of authenticity or promised it's limited edition, I can sell you the chair I'm sitting in and give you certificate of authenticity for that too...

8. Why can't I shoot/design/make it myself?

You can! All the credit to you if you do and do it just as well as the professionals!

9. Can I try to negotiate a lower price?

Sometimes you can. But I ask that if you're at an art fair where you're dealing with the artist directly, please don't offend them. They work very hard to travel, create work, pay the booth fee, lug all their work there, sit/stand all day.  Maybe ask them to throw in a studio visit or deliver the piece if they're local. If the piece is less than $500, I urge you not to negotiate at all. A dealer, go for it. But keep in mind they may take the loss out on the artist's cut.

10. Who should I talk to if I want to buy art?

You should talk to us! We've dealt and handled everything from William Merritt Chase to Alexander Calder to Jen Stark. We'll do the research to make sure that you're buying what you can't live without from a reputable source.

Photo of brokered work by Jen Stark, courtesy Carol Jazzar Gallery

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Finishing the Look: How to Choose Frames for your Art, Part 2

As I mentioned in Friday's post, framing is truly the finishing touch to collecting and displaying art. The embellishment (or lack thereof) in a frame and mat is the window which lends an air of intent, theme and mood to the piece. For art with historical content, a period frame (one original to the same era in which the painting was created and at times the only frame that has accompanied the work), is important to its integrity and scholarship. In this photo you see that the frames are ornate and intricately fashioned. Many of these frames are original to the period (mid to late 19th century) and are also hand-carved, a sign of workmanship that is rare to find today except in exclusive framing and high end art dealing.

Image: Cleveland Art Museum

When we look at contemporary art in the same academic setting the trend has swayed toward minimalism, leaving large canvases to fend for themselves against white walls. What do you think of this contradictory handling between say, Impressionism and Contemporary art? Does scale have anything to do with the lack of a frame?

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

There are a few key things that should be consistent when you'r shopping for frames. The larger the piece, the wider the width of the frame should be. This is for safety as well as visual reasons. Imagine a poster sized painting being framed by a 1 inch wide frame. Not only would that be off-balance visually, it would be hard for a piece of glass to be held in place by such a small frame. Conversely, the smaller a piece of art, the thinner the width of the frame. There are always exceptions to this rule, if you're looking to make a large impact but these are general guidelines to keep in mind.

The above reproduction of a Maxfield Parrish painting is an example of a well-fitted frame. Adding about three inches on either side, it lends a nice contrast to the lighter palette of the work and is wide enough to visually balance the large image.

Image: East and Orient

These prints are no larger than 8" x 10" and are handsomely housed in thin width frames, no larger than 1 inch. They also have a matching mat with a beveled edge liner in gold/tan to draw attention to the outer line of matching color. This gives the series an overall motif to match the subject matter.

If you're considering a colored frame, that's an adventurous and effective choice to enhance the painting. Make sure that you choose complementary hues rather than trying to match the painting to its exact palette. For instance, the nature series above would have looked handsome with a dark wood frame or even a marbled wood with various tones to pick up all the different neutral tones in the piece.

Ask the framer or bring a friend along if you're unsure about choosing frames. Ultimately, it should be an engaging and exciting experience. And don't fret about it if you get it back and it doesn't look quite right, framing can always be changed to match the mood of the painting. Good luck!

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