[L-R; Francis Jens Spitta, Delta Wright, Sarah Whipple, Abigail Stone, Maryna Hrushetska, and Stacia Vinar]
On June 11, Modern Resale with co-host D2art presented the first in its salon series, “Art Meets Design.” Our panel of experts included Delta Wright of Delta Wright Interior Design, curator Maryna Hrushetska and collector Francis Jens Spitta. Narrated by Abigail Stone, Los Angeles Editor-at-Large for California Home + Design, the lively discussion became a lesson for novice art buyers on collecting and displaying art.
For those of you who missed it, here are some excerpts:
Getting starting in collecting and hearing about new artists:
Francis Jens Spitta began his collection with a piece that he bought for $200. “At the time it felt like a fortune.” Bit by the collecting bug, he began going to galleries where he met other art aficionados, curators, gallery owners, and artists, educating himself as he went along. A professor at Otis College for the Arts, as well as a designer, means that he’s immersed in the world of young artists and designers, giving him an ear on the ground when it comes to hearing about young talent. But he’s also made keeping abreast of the art world a priority. “I read a lot [he suggests subscribing to ArtNews], I get a lot of emails from galleries [galleries often share mailing lists; you can sign up to receive their mailings in person or online], I have a lot of friends who are in the art world and inevitably we’re talking about it. There are galleries I like and that I’m always checking out.” The same amount money that you might spend on a decorative piece of art can be used to purchase something from an artist. Attend shows at your local art schools. “Sometimes it’s a good feeling to know that you helped a young artist pay their bills.” If you like a piece from an artist that is no longer available you may be able to commission them to create one for you.
Maryna Hrushetska who buys art for her clients, started out working in hedge funds before transitioning to the art world. She suggests signing up for an account on Artsy. She divides collectors into three categories — those who collect for investment, those who collect for social prestige, those who collect to support artists. Determining your “why” will help you decide where to spend your money. She also suggests performing a litmus test on yourself, similar to the one that performs on clients, to determine what kind of art you like, flipping through websites, museum catalogues and art books to see what you’re drawn to. Do you prefer representational or abstract art? Do you like art with figures in it? Do you prefer contemporary or traditional art? Is painting the medium that moves you or do you find yourself preferring sculpture or video? Hrustetska agrees with Spitta; you don’t need a lot of money to start collecting art.
SF MOMA just opened their new wing, The Fisher Collection. I was reading a review of the collection that mentioned that when GAP founder Donald Fisher started to collect art, his criteria was buying art that could be easily sold at an auction. Right there, his curators and advisors had a framework for what they could purchase. So, Donald Fisher fell into the second category of art collecting - investment. He wasn’t looking to be bold or daring. He bought works by established contemporary artists. Fast forward twenty-five years to the opening of his namesake wing at SF MOMA. A group of millennials go in, look around and they’re not impressed. In fact, they are bored. They think, ‘We’ve seen all these images before’. So a few of these pranksters place a pair of eyeglasses on the floor as an experiment . As if on cue, tourists start taking pictures of the glasses, thinking that it’s this great conceptual work of art. The meme makes the rounds of social media and we all got a chuckle. Kudos to SF MOMA for being good sports about it.
The point of this story is that Donald Fisher is an example of someone who had enormous wealth at his disposal and he chose to play it safe. He represents the type of collector motivated by investment. Then there are the Vogels. They are illustrative of another type of collector, one motivated by love and curiosity. Despite their monetary limitations — they were both government workers – they were able to amass one of the most important collections of post-1960s art in the United States. They did this by living on one salary and using the other salary to purchase art. They got to know many artists and their collection grew out of a genuine love for artists and their work.
Maryna cites the respect for creativity as the driving force of younger collectors, especially those who work in tech. Shying away from the big marquee names, they prefer to seek out lesser-known artists whose value, they believe, is likely to increase over time. It also underlines the fact that an art collection can be assembled despite limited resources when you enjoy the process of discovering new artists.
Integrating art into your decor
Maryna Hrushetska believes that modern furniture, like that found at Modern Resale, offers an optimum framework for art, enhancing it rather than competing with it.
Delta Wright starts the decor process with her client’s artwork. Hanging art and determining its placement is an art form in and of itself, she surmises. “Size and special conditions — such as if a piece has to be hung a certain way or if a painting needs to be placed so that it’s out of direct sunlight.” Wright who is a trained ceramicist, thinks of her room designs as four dimensional sculptures, layering in texture and color.
On that note, Francis Jens Spitta stresses the importance of finding a good framer who knows how to frame a piece in a way that not only supports it but protects it from dust and sunlight.
Photo credit: Interior Design Magazine
Photo credit: Delta Wright Interior Design
Photo credit: Delta Wright Interior Design