Monday, April 28, 2008

British Prints/El Greco to Velasquez

As gardening season really hasn't begun in earnest, I am taking the opportunity to get my fill of art. I have been meaning to see the British Print Show 1913-1939, at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston for quite sometime. It is there through June 1 and I highly recommend it. I went today....although I also highly recommend waiting until Art in Bloom is over. The place was shoulder to shoulder with women who wear pearls looking at artful flower arrangements plunked down in front of art.

The Vorticist Movement in pre-War (WWI) England was a parallel to the Italian Futurists. It was all swirling lines, movement, machinery and a dash of populism- what with all the heavily muscled working class men.

Almost all the prints in this show were lino-cuts. The blocks were linoleum instead of wood, so were not considered a real artistic medium, paving the way for women to grab their carving tools and make the medium their own. At least 1/3 of the prints displayed were by women. The second image, of a farm in his field plowing, is by Sybil Andrews- a British born Canadian. It is unusual for a show at a museum to prominently feature so many women artists without turning it into a political thing. They were included on their own merits.

I had an advance copy of the catalogue so was quite familiar the images, but was unprepared for the richness and nuance of the colors- especially as most of the prints were done with just four separate blocks- red, blue, yellow & green. The surfaces were like velvet- the real silk stuff, not the cheap polyester imitation-you can't imagine prints so rich with color. These colors just sat on the surface of the paper with all the preceding colors of ink shining luminously through. Sometimes a little off register the previous plate colors would bleed out from under the top layer giving a vibrating edge to the image. This added to the heightened sense of movement which was integral to the Vorticist's work.

El Greco to Velasquez opened up at the MFA a week or two ago so we felt obliged to take a look. After all these are the greats of Spanish art.

El Greco still looks as kooky as ever- that is the Ecstasy of Somebody or The Expulsion From the Garden. As my viewing partner pointed out "At least he has a point of view." He could really paint religious ecstasy and there is no denying what was going on. I think he really excelled at portraits. Without all the other activity going on in the canvas-just a single sitter- the viewer is really able to notice El Greco's brush stroke. They are broad and almost haphazard, yet they still build up to create a lifelike and convincing human.

Velasquez was good at portraying the more humble people. He was clearly a skilled painter and able to convey flesh and blood convincingly. He also excelled at portraiture- his veered more towards the Dutch model. His figure were solid, noble, supported by a dark background- and amazingly static.

Both of us became a little weary of this exhibition and all its crucifixes. I don't know if it was just that our modern sensibilities couldn't take in the old stories. Were the colors of El Greco & Peter Paul Rubens too lurid? I much preferred the clearer colors and straight forward compositions of the British Print show to the Spanish Painters.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Getting the Whole Picture

Just as a benchmark I want to show my garden looking pretty barren as it usually does this time of year. In about a month it will be a completely different story.

Looking past my border fence you can see one of le boyfriend's vegetable gardens and two fruit trees which look like they have laundry on them. They are actually sweaty, unwashed t-shirts clothes pinned to the trees to deter the deer. It isn't much worse than onion bags full of Irish Spring Soap tied to the branches. I don't quite relate to this particular outrage, but I do remember going WILD when I thought grubs had done in a very expensive birds nest spruce. I was forced to use diazanon. Remorse set in immediately as I spent the rest of the day trying to shoo birds from the fatally poisoned puddles.

A Day in the Life of My Garden

I am taking a cue from Black Swamp Girl and not holding back on the photos documenting every little thing of interest in my garden- at least to me. This is my bleeding heart, which was a gift from a dear friend of of mine, Madeline Farnsworth, who passed away two years ago at the age of 91. She encouraged me in gardening, among other things, was a fascinating story teller and until her medication prevented it, could toss back the scotch until 2 in the morning. I miss her- and this bleeding heart is a lovely remembrance of an opinionated but refined woman.

This is my lamb's ear....the first time I have gotten it to thrive. In my previous garden it fell victim to my husband's insistence that everything needed to be watered thoroughly everyday. That is fine unless you are a silver leafed beauty such as this. I bought this at my library's plant sale two summers ago from a woman who said "just keep the grass out of it and do nothing else." Well- I can't resist. Last spring I cleaned all the dead leaves out of it, fussed over it and killed about half of the plants. She really meant it when she said "do nothing else."

I remember one woman asking me why her shrubs were all doing so poorly. Never afraid to get dirty- I got on my knees and crawled underneath to find masses of mold growing on every stem juncture. I backed out, stood up and asked her if she watered frequently. She said her husband ran a sprinkler system twice a day. What is it about men and over watering?

I call this little path Succulent Way. It sounds a little sexual, but really, isn't that what gardening is all about? All of these plants primp and fuss and display and call out "yoo-hoo" to all the passing bees in the hopes of passing their genetic material on to some sweet young thing at the other end of the garden.

You can practically see this little sedum applying its lipstick. Isn't it adorable? I just want to pinch it! But I will probably wait until it is 6 inches high (it is a mini, but I forgot the cultivar) and THEN give it a little pinch so it won't be quite so floppy.

This is a path that I put in last year after cutting a hole through the fence that divides the yard and my gardens from le boyfriend's vegetable garden (or one of them anyways.) I bought this cheesy metal arbor for some roses to grow up because I figured in a couple of years you wouldn't be able to see how cheesy it actually was. I am also very proud that these Tiny Rubies pinks made it through the winter. I have never had much luck with them. And to boot I bought them for practically nothing because the nursery was sick of watering them at the end of the season and they had already, clearly, been left unwatered for two or three days. In the back is one of the ubiquitous Egyptian (or Walking) Onions. They are coming up all over my yard. I suppose their crazy hair-do's add a little humor to a garden.

Friday, April 25, 2008

He is a Lover Not a Fighter

Here is Henry playing with his elephant at work. He still isn't as vibrant as usual. I think the antibiotics and painkillers are making him dopey. He definitely perks up when he sees a dog though.

He has another appointment this morning to make sure everything is healing up properly. I am suppose to keep the Elizabethan collar on him, but he hates it so much. If I can be around him and tell him to stop licking I leave it off. If he gets obsessive, I put it on.

His wounds gave me pause to reflect. Clearly the poor dear is a lover not a fighter. They are located at his farthest end....the end that would present to another pair of teeth if it was running away. I love my little boy, but I see that, despite his swagger, he will never offer me much protection.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I was out taking Henry for a somewhat abbreviated evening walk- I still don't think he is up for too much. It is a luscious spring evening- things are really coming up. Walked in the back pasture past some hidden banks of snow and felt the coolness roll off of them and around my ankles. It is delightful to feel the cool of the snow and the heat of a hot spring night all rolled into one lovely sensation.

I heard the distinctive buzzing "peeent" of a woodcock displaying his springtime wares. I walked slowly so as to not flush anything. Henry obliged by being still whenever I stopped. I could hear the whirr of a woodcock taking off but couldn't spot one displaying the distinctive mating flight. I was able to spot one landing near a very gentle buzzing call.

I'll be patient. I have a few week to catch their passionate courtship in my backyard. If you have never witnessed it, it is worth searching out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Anatomy of an Accident

This is my sad boy Henry after a very sad event which has left everyone wondering what to do and whom to blame.

The facts: My mother was suppose to care for Henry over the weekend while I was away in DC. She forgot she needed to leave on a trip on Sunday through Wednesday. She asked Amanda to care for Henry at Michelle's house where Amanda was caring for Michelle's two Australian Shepherds- one of whom has some Henry specific aggressions. Somehow Ty was able to slip in to Michele's backyard where Henry was playing with Coco and bite him several times in the nether regions. This necessitated a trip to the emergency vets and an overnight stay to be sure that he didn't require abdominal surgery and that his urethra hadn't been severed.

Now the embellishing: Some of the words a"mother" does not want to hear- soft tissue trauma, surgery, severed, it's okay he is sedated now, multiple puncture wounds.

He came out Monday morning and was fine, or as fine as a dog with multiple puncture wounds could be. I was much relieved and was able to somewhat enjoy the rest of my vacation. But that is where the deep thinking came in. I had already received tearful calls from Amanda & Michelle thinking it was all their faults. I am still waiting for the arrival of my mother on Wednesday who might also think it was her fault. Of course, I realize it is all my fault simply because I was born. This terrible blaming and guilt weighs heavy on me. Especially as Michelle's husband is also sure it is Michelle's fault and that "something needs to be done." I am afraid of what that "something" might be.

The truth is that choices were made all along the way, no one ever suspecting that their small part in the decision making was going to add up to a tragic accident. No one made those choices with the intent of causing a tragic accident. People just made the best possible choices at the time. I am just relieved that my little, big man after a painful healing process is probably going to be the same old goofy mutt he has always been. I was likewise gladdened when he wagged his tail going into the vet's office this afternoon in anticipation of a chance interlude with some terrifically smelly and happy dog in the waiting area. He whined with anticipation. I love my dog.

I also have an inkling why families fall apart after the death of a child. Guilt is a terrible thing.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Color Field Painters

My sister and I took the metro into the city on Saturday to check out the museums. Saw these two cute and stylin urban girls playing with a toy on the way in. They jumped off-all smiles and giggles about two stops before us.

We finally found the American Art Museum, by way of the Building Museum where we found a great display of David McCauley's wonderfully funny drawings. They are both up in the Chinatown section of the District. The American Art Museum shares space with the Portrait Gallery which I always thought would be boring but is really fascinating in that it tells the story of our country through portraits - both of famous Americans and by them.

Wandering into the contemporary wing was eye opening. It was like being in a completely different museum- airy, light and sparely "hung" with offerings. A Jenny Holzer installation was fascinating in that it gets you to stop and stare in way that most art can't. There was a nice Ellsworth Kelly that was nice to compare to his sculpture we saw at the Phillips the day before. I like the sculpture better.

The Color Field show was a real eye opener. It was like walking into a bowl of sherbet. The colors were so lush and seductive. That is an Adolph Gottlieb above. While the works weren't about painting per se, the paintings were entrancing nevertheless. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Visiting the Phillips Collection

Beautiful day in DC- the temp was in the eighties and everything was in bloom- azaleas, redbud, tulips, candytuft- EVERYTHING! We visited the Phillips Collection and saw the newer acquisitions show-Degas to Diebenkorn or something like that. I always forget how much I like Arthur Dove. Saw this beautiful painting titled Flour Mill II-lovely.

We went to the National Arboretum which I have never been to- 100's of acres of wonderful plants. They have stunning display gardens and were also having a show of ikebana arrangements and bonsais. We then drove through the park looking at more things in bloom and beautiful vistas. My favorite was the evergreen collection. They have several dwarf hinocki cypress that are no long dwarf-10 or 12 feet high. My little 2 footer would look pathetic. We found a gazebo and sat there for about 1/2 hour taking in the loveliness. We could hear some traffic as we were near the preimeter of the park, but it was still an amazing experience to be in the middle of a major city but all we could see were plants and birds.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's Blooming

I am getting ready to leave for DC tonight- going to see the color field show at the American Museum and to visit my favorite museum in the world- the Phillips Collection. I have been informed by the Friends of the Library in my town that the gardens at the Library are calling my name. (I volunteer at anything that doesn't require showing up at a meeting.) How could this be? Some of my gardens are still under snow. I suspect this will be an abbreviated season. I have snowdrops and crocuses blooming at the same time and I think my daffodils won't be too far behind. They have fat little heads on very stubby little necks.

No photos..... I can see if I am going to continue on this blog I will need to buy my own camera instead of borrowing the one from work.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Ferocious Lion Saves Me Again

My friend Michelle came in to my workplace today, accompanied by her saber tooth Australian Shepherd, Ti-Ti. Fortunately my wildly vicious dog, Henry,-pictured to the left in his most macho and intimidating stance-was there to save me.

After Ti's final lunge at Henry, complete with foaming lips and doggy innuendo, Henry pulled out his cape and saved me from a possible mauling. I was crouched low, ostensibly to hold him back, but he could see that I had put myself at grave risk by coming closer to the wild Ti-Ti. Henry charged at me. I thought he was trying to make a getaway between my bent legs, but soon his plan became clear. I was knocked right on my butt, safely away from Ti, but this STILL wasn't enough for my brave lion. He climbed into my lap in case she made another lunge at my jugular vein. Then to spare me the anxiety of considering his having witnessed this spectacular contretemps- he buried his face in my chest, completely covering his eyes. I am pretty sure he had his paws around my neck in case any blows rained in from the sides.

This is the devilish fiend- terrible Ti-Ti the man eating tiger- that Henry saved me from. I am so lucky that he is in my life.

The End.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Come To Think Of It

We all pretty much look alike from generation to generation. These are my sister's children but they are interchangeable with any of the other nieces and nephews.

The eating gene runs pretty strong through our genetic make up too. We aren't happy till we're rolling in it. Just fair warning in case I invite you to dinner.

Every Daughter's Fate

My father recently sent this photo to me. It is my mother when she is about 22-24 or so. I use to look a lot like my father, or so my mother tells me.

As you can see- I am pretty much a carbon copy of her except my eyes are blue. I still haven't decided if I am happy about this or not. I suppose it doesn't matter.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I blog, You Blog, He, She or It blogs, We blog, You blog, They blog

It has been a long week with two opening/dinners that I had to attend. The first at SNHU featured the artists of Wingate Studio and Two Rivers Print Studio of White River Junction, Vermont. Met Rachel Gross who started the Cartoon Institute in the same town.

The next evening was a more formal affair at the Holderness School- an opening featuring the wood engravings of Herbert Waters (that is Bertha's Wheelbarrow above). My gallery lent some prints, thus garnering me an invite to the post reception dinner.

Somehow the topic of Facebook came up. I mentioned that I had a profile- only one other person present had one. He had somehow created an account so he could view someone else's profile only to find out he had been sucked into Facebook hell. I then mentioned that I recently started a blog because I was curious about them. Everyone wanted to know why I would do that. I mentioned that it was a great way to connect up with a community of people. "What community have you hooked up with?" That was a stumper. A quick mental synthesis later I answered "women."

I only started doing this a week or two ago but have tried to figure out why it is so compelling. I have found that it is way to have more casual relationship with friend(s) I don't see as often as I would like . I share my daily thoughts. There are responses- or not. By doing this, you create a community around yourself.
I have always thought I wanted to write some of my thoughts down. They always seem so big and important at the time I have them. This gives me a way to put them out there, practice my writing, communicating skills and not have a huge commitment. I suppose it feels quite comfortable.

*The title references my 6th grade English teacher, Mr. Vorbeau, who had us conjugate verbs out loud as quickly as we could.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Me, Michelle and Rick Steves

This is me and my friend, Michelle in Rome last March. We ditched our husband / boyfriends for 10 glorious days of my once in a lifetime dream vacation. Michelle loved it too, but she loves anything that involves flying and foreign languages for SHE is a travel whore.

We couldn't be more different from each other. She is a sometimes stay at home Mom who lives for her children. She was raised by a loving family complete with a French Canadian Mom, Claudette, who is sweet as a peach but drives Michelle crazy. I am a career girl who was smart enough to realize how selfish I am and that that particular character trait doesn't mesh well with child rearing. I hyperventilate if dirty dishes are on the counter or if my plants haven't been dead headed in my garden. My parents were both hippies who divorced when I was quite young. My mother, Reta, is always up for an adventure, considers any kind of housework to be a waste of time and is one of the most thoughtful women alive, but also drives me bonkers.

Michelle and I don't agree on everything -like the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, what constitutes a long walk, the color of my eyebrows or what color to paint walls. We do agree on a lot of things like Carrie Cahill Mulligan's hats, good food, red wine and lots of it, but we were concerned about sharing a room for 10 days. Michelle snores, I am a fitful sleeper if I sleep at all. I am an early riser, she is decidedly not. We checked in to find that they put us in a room with one double bed. As we arrived a day early we assumed that is what they had and we would be moved the following night. Not to be.

We did find that we were the perfect traveling partners. I was so exhausted from our daily 10 mile hikes that I never noticed that she snored. Nightly I would obsess over the travel guides to plan the following day's itinerary while Michelle, who is a night bather, splashed in our marble appointed bathroom ministering to her multiple blisters. In the morning I would quietly make some cappuccino for myself and continue the obsessing and memorization of the street maps. The moment she stirred I would make her a cappuccino to be served in bed. We were like an old married couple!

We agreed that no opportunity to eat gelato should be wasted. I am pretty sure this photo was taken at our favorite place in the Jewish quarter. We ate everything with abandon, but it was balanced by our daily marathon treks through the city. Artichokes! Grilled Vegetables! Wine! I even broke down and had a slice of pizza two days before we left (I am gluten intolerant) knowing I would be sick in three days because I just can't see coming to Italy and not eating pizza. It was glorious!

Michelle allowed me to go clothing shopping (not her thing) without pressuring me to get a move on- she knows how particular I can be when choosing things. I let her stay in a glass shop for over an hour chatting with the owner- I popped next door for a cappuccino rather than rush her through her fun. We agreed on the stuff we wanted to do together and were fine for the day we opted for solitary pleasures. No angst, no guilt. I can't imagine this trip being any more fun than it was.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Roses on the Brain

I chipped some more ice off the driveway tonight after dinner. I know it is wrong to wish away the days, but I would at least like to see some dirt. I also need to figure out how much my Henry Kelsey roses have taken off on this arbor. Last year I filled in with some purple hyacinth bean- my new favorite annual.

The blue spruce in this photo is still languishing under very icy snow. I hope it hasn't been traumatized (read deformed) by the experience. I love that blue spruce and have even forgiven it the large gashes it put in my forearms in the quest to plant it best side forward and level. I got it at a great little family operation around the corner from me in Newbury- Lyons Evergreens. He grows his own and is only open on weekends for 5 or 6 weeks in early summer. Field dug to boot! Who knew evergreen roots were so shallow and amenable to manhandling?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

He Thinks I'm a Princess

This is Henry at the bottom of the stairs. He makes me feel so special. He just stares and sometimes make little noises- like I am a princess descending a staircase into a ball. Every woman should have someone to make her feel like that. Of course, my preference would be to not have to scoop poop for my prince.

Slowly Melting

This Photo is of the fence in my backyard. It was taken yesterday. The snow is about at the bottom rail- about a foot or so left. In between the fence and the sapling to the left is a bench. Hard to believe- eh? It was in the 50's today. On my walk I noticed the neighbors had taken down their sap buckets. Spring must be here.

The boyfriend is a bit miffed. He walked across the snow to check on our fruit trees, now in their second or third year. Most of the new growth was ingested by a local herd of deer. He has threatened some action involving firearms and, no doubt, foul language. I am not sure if the focus will be the deer or the neighbor who feeds them to provide entertainment for the guests at his Inn.

This is amusing and shows the power of compost. On the boyfriends return from Florida mid-February he snowblowed his way into the compost bin. The snow was up to the barn roofline at the time. I think from the insulation of the snow and good old-fashioned compost power- the snow melted about 8 inches around the bin. He found a big pocket of air when he uncovered it. You can still sort of see the sweep of the snow around the bin.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Story of Lady and Henry

I saw an old Golden Retriever this afternoon while walking my dog and suddenly felt very cheated. My Golden, Lady, died a year ago from a cancerous tumor in her nasal passage. She had just turned 7. She had been my constant companion since my husband and I bought her in April of 2000. She came to work with me almost every day since she was 8 weeks old. She could walk long distances with me and loved to accompany me on cross country ski-trips. I am pretty sure that my husband bought her for me because he knew he was dying and thought I would need a buddy (that is another long and involved story for another day.) This is Lady and me in my inner city garden- my other love.

This is Lady on a walking trail near my new home which is very far from the city. We moved here with my boyfriend in 2006. As you can see, she was every inch a Lady. She was 75 pounds of noble creature, even temperament and loyalty- prematurely gray like most Goldens. She had already started slowing down a little and was usually content to snooze under a bush while I puttered in the garden. I had reconciled myself to the two of us getting a little pudgy as she got older and was less interested in long walks.

This..... is a Henry. Four months after Lady died I couldn't stand the loneliness of my walks. Really- what's the point of walking without someone to yak with? I had decided that a rescue mixed breed was the politically correct thing to do and might help avoid some of a purebred's genetic problems. I needed a non-threatening, child friendly, people dog. This is the package those ingredients came in. He was described as a Wheaten Terrier mix and needed to be re-homed because of his separation anxieties. They neglected to mention that his other half was beagle- meaning that despite his separation anxieties any chance he got he would be down the road chasing some scent. He was truly a hell-dog till we worked out some ground rules.

Here is Henry at work with one of his many toys. He is 32 pounds of cuddly love that always needs to be on leash. Always. I have learned that he even needs to be buckled up in my car so he can 't dive out the window in search of food, females or fun. He doesn't chew up my shoes anymore or steal food off the counters (much). In exchange I take him on 5 mile walks almost daily, introduce him to as many tolerant dogs as I can find and kiss him hourly.
Isn't he a doll? My Mr. Fluffy Muffins!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

An Article I am Working On

Why do you collect art?

I often hear people say that they cannot afford to purchase art, but this frequently means that they are frightened of showing that they don’t know anything about it. The learning and discovery is, to me, the most thrilling aspect of collecting art. It is an opportunity to hone your eye and expand your horizons. For many years I enjoyed wine but felt that I could never learn about “good wine.” I felt it was beyond my experience and abilities. At some point in my life I decided to try experimenting. There are some wine shops I feel comfortable going in to and describing what I like and asking for recommendations. I state my budget and my tastes. I have learned a lot- I will even occasionally drink a rose! Art can be like this too. You will find that there is some affordable and good art to be had if you start looking and asking questions.

Some gallery salespeople may try to tell you that art is an investment. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. There are a lot of factors that go into investment grade- or blue chip art. Your primary reason for purchasing art should be for the enjoyment of the piece. It should give you pleasure for years to come. Unlike cars or clothing, it will never rust or go out of style. If you still insist on buying art that could potentially hold its value- look at the artist’s resume. Are they in good collections? Museum Collections? These are indicators that an artist might go the distance, but this should be considered a fortuitous bit of luck- often times realized only by your children or grand children.

Collecting art doesn’t just benefit you; it benefits artists and galleries too. I like to think of a purchase as a direct grant to an artist. Through your purchase you are saying that you think their work is good and worth pursuing. The money keeps that artist in rent and food so that they can continue to create more art. This is the main reason that my gallery is committed to showing the work of living, regional artists.

Purchasing art also helps to keep your favorite galleries open, giving you an opportunity to view lots of different work. Commercial galleries do not receive government funding or have boards to raise funds, so they thrive or falter depending on how much support they get from people coming through their doors. So not only are you doing all this good work- you also get a beautiful piece of art to hang on your walls!

My favorite reason to collect art is that I love it and I love how it looks in my home. It is an opportunity to express my tastes and make an individual statement. One of the best compliments someone ever paid me was “your home looks like you.” My home offers me rest and relaxation – and the art is a big part of that feeling. I try to instill that spirit in others when they are purchasing art for their home. They should really love the piece and it should make them happy when they look at it.

Another very personal take on collecting art can be read about at

Where do you collect art?

Many people are intimidated by the thought of entering a gallery or are concerned that there will be an admission fee. Commercial galleries have no admission fee as a museum does. They make their money by selling the artwork to people, but you are under no obligation to purchase something because you have walked through the front door.

In most galleries you will probably be allowed to wander through on your own. This is a great way for you to be come familiar with a gallery’s artists. If you see something you like, be sure to ask if there is more. There are often many pieces which are stored. After you have visited several galleries you will find that certain ones appeal to you more than others. Galleries are mostly owned by individuals who have a distinct personality, which is reflected in the art that they offer. Make sure that you get on their mailing lists so that you will be notified of all upcoming shows.

There are also ample opportunities to buy art at art schools, artists’ open houses, art auctions and even eBay. One of my customers only buys from second hand shops. He has a wonderful eye and picks up some quality pieces for very little money. He then frames them in top notch frames to make the pieces look really special. When you purchase art from people you are not familiar with be sure to ask very specific questions about condition- especially if they are framed which might mask condition problems. I have seen many pieces purchased sight unseen, which then have to go to the conservator to be repaired from being improperly handled or framed.

The only places I do not recommend purchasing art are on a cruise ship or in a resort town. These sales take place far from home when people are not thinking clearly- they are often extremely relaxed as they are on vacation or have had too much to drink. Resist! Your defenses are down and it is a spur of the moment, impulse purchase often driven more for a desire for a memento of the trip than a love of the art. Save your money and buy a snow-globe.

Once you have found a couple of galleries that you like, try to visit them frequently. Things change often- new artists are brought in, shows change regularly. It is also a good way to establish a relationship with a gallery and to learn more about their artists. Once they know what you like they will probably contact you when something of interest comes in- giving you first choice.

How do you collect art?

Another reason that many people never start an art collection is that it can seem so overwhelming. So much to learn! One way to limit what you have to look at it is to only collect a certain style, medium or geographical region. Some of my clients will only collect New Hampshire or Maine artists. Some like to focus on just prints or only living artists. Others are only interested in abstracts. This is one way to really give your collection focus. It is also a way to become very knowledgeable about a certain segment of the art world. One of my favorite collectors focuses on prints and ceramics. His collection is prodigious- as is his knowledge. He is able to keep abreast of everything new in the print world and frequently teaches me a lot about it.

Go to shows at galleries. You can see a lot of work by an individual artist. If you go to the opening you will have a chance to meet the artist and ask them about their process. Don’t expect to always like what the gallery is showing, but you are exposed to it and are allowed to make up your own mind. Disagreeing about the merits of different art allows you to view and collect within a context. I often find that people will start off saying they don’t like something and then, over time, warm up to it.

Once you have decided that it is time to start purchasing, let the gallery know what you want to see. Tell them your budget and style constraints. They should be willing to pull out a number of pieces for you to view. Don’t be afraid to let them know how you feel about the work. That sort of guidance helps them to bring out more appropriate work.

Most galleries will allow you to take a piece home on approval. They may ask for a credit card number if you are not a regular customer. If you like a piece ask the gallery person if this is an option.

You are going to see a real range of prices in a gallery. Generally an artist can charge more for their work if there is a high demand for it or if they are a more established and respected artist. Don’t hesitate to ask if there seems to be a discrepancy between quality and price. The gallery should be able to explain it satisfactorily. It usually boils down to the fact that an artist’s work has sold consistently at that price.

Once you have purchased a piece of artwork, the gallery should provide you with information on the artist- perhaps a bio and artist statement. They should also provide you with, at the very least, an invoice stating what you have purchased and for how much. You will need this for insurance purchases (more on this later.) Often times galleries will provide a certificate of authenticity as if it guarantees that you have purchased a real piece of art. I find certificates of authenticity pretentious and serve only to bolster the purchaser’s confidence in what they have just bought. The only real guarantee is to purchase from a trusted gallery.


A confusing issue for art buyers is the term “print.” It can be used to refer to a reproduction and to a fine art print. A reproduction is a copy of an original piece of art. Even though a print has an artist’s signature does not mean that it is an original. A fine art print is the original art. The artist will create an image on a plate or block (matrix), which will be inked. The image is then transferred to a piece of paper. These prints can be in editions as small as 1 (monoprint) and up to 250-300, although most range in the 50-125 size. Because these prints can be produced as multiples, they are frequently less expensive than paintings. The price will be based on both the artist’s reputation and the size of the edition.

On occasion an artist will use a master printer to print their work. There are many reasons for this. The printing process can be physically difficult or the technical nature of a print requires a very skilled hand to bring the artist’s vision to fruition.

A new process for reproduction has further muddied the waters. Giclees (pronounced zhee-clay) are produced on very high quality ink jet printers from very high resolution images of the original artwork. Because the image is on a computer it gives the artist much greater control over the colors than any other reproduction process. This process is expensive as reproductions go, but gives buyers an in-between price point on an artist’s work without forgoing on quality. These are frequently hand signed by the artist, but are nevertheless a reproduction.

There are a number of photographers and digital artists who use the giclee process to print original works. These are originals and not reproductions as the originals exist on computers until they are printed. The giclee process is perfectly suited to their mediums.

Dreaming of Ajuga

It has been an awfully long winter. We are one week into April and I still have 1 1/2 feet of snow in my yard. I should have been out there cleaning the leaves out of my sedum to get an early peak at their little brussel sprout heads. It makes me wonder if my peonies won't bloom till July.
I am forced to garden in my mind. That ajuga I planted over by my arbor should be moved to the front of the house to join the other ajuga. My gardens often look like patchworks but I think a unifying plant- like ajuga- would pull that front garden together. As soon as the snow melts I will move it.