Category Archives: collecting

Smithsonian Craft Show

The Smithsonian Craft Show opens this weekend (April 10 – 13) at the Smithsonian Building Museum.  This will be the third show I am attending and I am psyched as usual.  I’d considered going to the preshow on Wednesday evening.  But the admission to the gala is $175 per person (I know but at least there is a free valet!).  I finally realized as much fun as that would be, I could spend it on thursday (and the profit goes to the event which is worthwile) or I could directly support the artist by buying their lovely things.  I decided buying art and fine crafts would be the better option for me.

Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors/military/Smithsonian Associates and employees. 

The hours of the show are:

Thursday 10:00- 8:00PM

Friday – Saturday 10:00 – 6:00PM

Sunday  11:00-5:00PM

There is a small sandwich shop on the first floor that has some great food that is fairly cheap, they sell decent coffee too.

How to get there:

If you are on the Metro, take the RED LINE to Judicary Square.  The national Building Museum is located on 401 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 if you are driving there are parking garages nearby but I am a metro gal so check the show link for that information.

For those of you who are out of town and can not attend, you can still participate!  The Smithsonian Craft Show hosts and online auction as well!  The auction opened on 6 April and continues until 15 April.




A Way to Collect Art, Inexpensively

I wanted to write a post about how it is possible to collect affordable art.   

I believe most people like the idea of surrounding themselves with beautiful and attractive things.  I’ve written several posts on collecting art but many of the artist I love or have discussed (e.g., Robert Liberace, Annie Dover, Duane Keiser -his larger works, Leo NeufeldSonya Skarloff, et al.) may be out of the reach of most budgets.

My background

I started buying artwork several years ago, I was-and still am- on a shoestring budget.  I initially bought only what I loved and could afford but I had no idea how to go about selecting what to buy.  I was fortunate enough to start an email conversation with Gregory Peterson of NYC who is an avid contemporary art collector.  Throughout our correspondence, he was very helpful explaining how he went about buying art and building his extensive collection. 

What I found was that if you want a larger or more expensive work, most galleries will work with you by allowing you to make credit card payments (usually three or four automatic ones) and once it’s paid for, they ship it to you or you pick it up.  Mostly it depends on the gallery and your relationship with them or how much they want to sell that particular work. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be shy about telling them what you can afford.  In fact, if you don’t tell them honestly what your price range is, it’s doubtful they can steer you towards work you  are confortable about purchasing, I strongly recommend that you never buy work you can’t afford (i.e., don’t say you have to have something so you use your rent money).  Gregory suggested starting a savings account to use for your art purchases.  I think it’s a wonderful idea but I am simply not that disciplined I guess.  So, I am writing this post to help those of you who, like me, love art but are on a limited budget. 

Get Educated

Attend as many openings and art shows as you can.  Many museums have lecture series to teach members and the general public about different types of art.  Often times very well known artists will give presentations about their work, inspiration, and motivation in conjunction with the opening of a show. In addition, there are many galleries who who court new collectors and provide venues where a collector can learn more. 

For example the Arlington Virginia Arts Center will host a “Collector’s Talk.” which features well known DC area collectors such as Tony and Heather Podesta, Phillip Barlow and Philippa Hughes.  These individuals will discuss their collections on 8 March at 4:30.  They are well known for their impressive and extensive collections, in fact they have co-curated a show which features each unique collection.

I recently attended a lecture by Paige West (click here to read my the blog post) at the Corcoran Museum, in Washington DC.  Paige West owns the Mixed Greens Gallery in NYC.  She discussed collecting contemporary art and talked about who was at the apex (read super hot and  super expensive) and those who were up and coming as well.  She also made some recommendations on places to shop for art that is relatively inexpensive, which I wholeheartedly agree with.

A common theme for many lectures and panel discussions about collecitng art is urging folks to consider limited edition fine art prints (lithography, monotypes etc versus greenwich village workshop type genre) and photographs.  The contemporary prints and photographs by emerging artists and even some well known artist are usually not as expensive as oil paintings.  But they are still not inexpensive. 

I’ve also found that many inexpensive works are by either emerging artists or established artists who are selling smaller works.  This is the group that I focus on. 

Inexpensive/affordable art

There are some phenomenal sources available for purchasing great quality relatively inexpensive art (say $20 – $500) and one that I know of that is even FREE

Recommended inexpensive sources are, Daily Painters, 20×200, Tiny Showcase, and Cinders. The free one is the Fine Art Adpotion Network  (FAAN).  Both Tiny Showcase  and 20×200 place new works at their site on Tuesdays and 20×200 also places works on their sites on Wednesdays as well.  Daily painters work is self explanatory.

How they work handmade art, accessories, crafts, beautiful and funky furniture, ceramics and books.  A great article that gives a far more in-depth explaination about etsy can be found at the Real Simple magazine.    According to their website mission statement

“Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade.  Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.  our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice….” 

A great example of the type of art you can purchase at etsy is the work sold by the Los Angeles artist The Mincing Mockingbird.  This guy’s paintings are hysterical and really well done and very inexpensive at $40 for a 6×6″ work.  I found this artist through a link at Decor8’s great design blog.  Here is an example of one from the Mincing Mockingbird’s store, the title is too funny. The second print, based on a watercolor, is by Desert Canyon.

 Whiskers The Cat Strikes Terror In The Hearts Of The Residents Of The Lilac

Whiskers The Cat Strikes Terror In The Hearts Of The Residents Of The Lilac, by the Mincing Mockingbird 

Almost Squash Time by Desert Canyon

Almost Squash Time, Desert Canyon

Poppytalk Handmade.  According to their site, Poppytalk Handmade is a monthly virtual/online street market to showcase, buy and sell handmade goods of emerging design talent from around the world.  They have some amazing work that is very reasonable.

20×200 20×200 is the brain child of Jen Beckman.  The site places two new works per week at their site, one photo and one work on paper.  They offer the work in three editions based upon size; the smaller the work, the larger the edition.   The largest edition (200) is the smallest size available and is sold for $20, there is also a medium size (edition of 20) sold for $200 and a larger sized edition (edition of 2) which sells for about $2000.  The goal of the site is to make art high quality affordable art available to everyone. 

Daily Painters Gallery-is a juried gallery of daily painting artist.  According to the site, the gallery was founded by artist Micah Condon in 2006 and has over 20,000 paintings available.  I have found the work to be extremely varied.  There are only a few artists whose work really appeals to me there but it’s mainly a matter of personal taste.  Kim Roberti is one artist at the Daily Painters Gallery whose work I like (I own one of her paintings).  Many of  the paintings begin around $35 and go up from there.  It takes time to browse here but once you find someone whose work you like you can click on the link to their gallery and find additional works there. I believe I paid around $35-40 for this adorable Kim Roberti oil painting.


Me and My Shadow by Kim Roberti

Me and My Shadow by Kim Roberti

Cinders Gallery – is located in Brooklyn, NY.  According to their site, Cinders Gallery focuses on drawings but sells other handmade objects as well.  Their goals is to sell affordable art to average person. 

Fine Art Adoption Network.   There are a variety of mediums available for adoption at FAAN:  sculpture, paintings, drawings, photography and even installation work.  FAAN’s stated goal is to create an online network

…which uses a gift economy to connect artists and potential collectors. All of the artworks on view are available for adoption. This means acquiring an artwork without purchasing it, through an arrangement between the artist and collector. Our goal is to help increase and diversify the population of art owners and to offer artists new means for engaging their audience.

How FAAN works, you view the available works and then you decide which works to apply to adopt.  Make no mistake it is an adoption process, you apply for it by answering questions about yourself and why you should be the owner of the work.  Some artwork has no strings attached and some have conditions for adoption (e.g., the artist wants it framed or displayed a certain way).  There are some wonderful contemporary works here and it’s definitely worth attempting.  I haven’t had any luck but I’ve only applied to adopt two works in the past. I liked this one so much that I applied to adopt it and I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Peggy Cyphers Sidewalk Subway

Subway Sidewalk by Peggy Cyphers 

This is an example of a recent painting up for adoption at FAAN.


Trying to sort through the art available at can be an effort worthy of Hercules.  The best thing I can recommend is that you find someone whose work you love adn who uses eBay to sell their works (such as Duane Keiser, and Neil Hollingsworth).  As always with eBay, shop the seller and not the product…that means make sure the seller has as close to 100& positive feedback as they can get. 

I usually look at the following artists at eBay Karin Jurick, Duane Keiser, Neil Hollingsworth, and Michelle Tully.  Speaking of Michelle Tully and Duane Keiser.  Michelle sells work by herself, Tim Stolz and occasionally other artist (Tony Ryder for one) through their eBay store.  Michelle and Tim Stolz run the Studio Escalier in France.  According to the site, they use the

…proceeds go to help our young scholarship students in France, who come to our art school from all over the world. (North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia.)

I’ve written several posts about artist Duane Keiser which can be found throughout my blog.  Suffice it to say that Duane started the Painting A Day movement and his smaller works are sold through his eBay store.  Depending on subject matter (eggs, food items,  and floral seem to go for between $350-$500) some of his other subjects a little lower.  He also sells very tiny paintings (usually 2.5″x3″) he calls oddments at his site for $100.  He only puts the oddments up occasionally so you need to check his site daily if you’re interested.

I will go ahead and post this for now, I expect to do several edits before I am happy with it. If you have another source for art that you love which is under $400 or $500 dollars please let me know via a comment.



The Cupboard of Good Things

I am still unpacking and rearranging things at the new condo. 

So far, I’ve placed all of my smaller paintings, fragile tiny pottery, a kachina, some 1st edition books I love, and other debetage inside of it. I’ve been calling it the cupboard of goodness.

So for a tour (from top to bottom) here goes….

The cupboard of Good Things

The top shelf contains, three ivory netsukes purchased in Biloxi Missippi in the mid 1980s, a wooden box I bought in Morocco in 1990, a horn box from Jordan, a small piece of pottery purchased last year at the Governor’s Palace in Santa Fe, NM and a Hopi Kachina I purchased in Albuquerque, NM.   The paintings are a Duane Keiser egg painting and a Peter Holbrook oil study of the Grand Canyon.  I purchased the egg painting from Duane Keiser and I purchased Peter Holbrook’s landscape through the Peterson-Cody Gallery in Santa Fe, NM.

Cupboard of Good Things


A closeup of the cupboard


Here is a close up of the netsukes

   Duane Keiser Egg Paintings  

The Second shelf contains four more of Duane Keiser egg paintings.  I love these paintings and I am such a huge fan of Duane’s work!  Here is a close up of my favorite egg painting (it’s the dark one).

The third shelf contains three painting by Leslie Holt from her Hello Masterpiece series, Hello Olympia, Hello Botticelli and Hello Van Gogh (Self Portrait) as well as a wooden cow I carved in the 1980s and a cat ornament which reminds me of my poor lost cat Tripp (he escaped when I lived in Albuquerque and I’ve never seen again).

The fourth shelf contains some books that I love; none are particularly valuable, but I love them all the same.  The House of Exile by Nora Waln, I married Adventure by Osa Johnson,  and three Gene Stratton Porter books: Her Father’s Daughter, Freckles, and my absolute favorite Laddie.

The House of Exile is story written by a Philidelphia quaker girl whose family had trade connections with the Lin familiy in Hopei (Canton area) China.  Ms. Waln was invited to visit the Lin familiy and travelled to China in the 1920s.  In her book, she gives an indepth account of what like was like in an upper middle class family (the Lins were Mandarin scholars which is was the ruling class).   I read this while in college in the 80s and it took me years to find another copy of it.

Gene Stratton Porter is another of my favorites.  I love her book Laddie and I think it demonstrates the mindset of the truly civic minded individualist in the late 19th century.  I love the Osa Johnson book because of it’s beautiful cover…I am still looking for a 1st edition of her Safari book where the cover is a giraffe pattern. 

The bottom shelf contains an oil study (I did) of pussy-willows, an Andrew Moon business card drawing that I love, and a study of my manx cat, Wyatt.    There is also a burl-wood and ebony box I bought in morocco, and a beautiful mercury glass vase I was received as a Christmas gift.

Although these things were initially placed in the cupboard for safety’s sake while I unpacked and moved things around- I love the idea of a cupboard of curiosities so I may leave it as is for now.

Book Party and Art

I recently attended a book-signing event with a friend this month.  Christine Pelosi was in Washington, DC and she signed copies of her book, Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders. The party was held in at a private home in Adams Morgan area of Washington DC.

Most of those who attended were either associated with political campaigns, congressional staffers, non-profit organizations or were movers and shakers in politics. 

I am none of these things.  

I attended with a friend who knows Christine, spoke briefly with Christine about what my adventures in Iowa, meet a brilliant young woman, and looked at some phenomenal art.

I did get to met a perfect example of the type of future leader Christine talks about in her book.  The young lady I spoke with was awe inspiring.  She is a Harvard grad who has done post graduate work in public health policy in the US and abroad.  She was absolutely amazing-dedicated and passionate, and willing to act on her her ideals and I firmly believe she is one of the people who will change this world. 

The hosts, Heather and Tony Podesta, are serious contemporary art collectors who love photography, sculpture and paintings.  There have been several articles in the Washington Post about their collection.  Walking through the first floor of their home was like being in a contemporary art gallery.  Everything  was designed to showcase their art.  The floors were neutral wood and the furniture had clean lines which  served more to accent the art than compete with it.  Two pieces in the living room seemed to compete for pride of place, an immense stone sculpture by Lousie Bourgeios, titled Nature Study (1986)  and a gorgeous  black and white photograph of Oscar Wilde by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto.  I thought Nature Study was amazing.  It had this organic feeling that made me want to sit in front of it, staring until the stone revealed it’s secrets.  Sugimoto’s photo was shot in a Madame Tussaud’s but it was so lifelike it was mind boggling.  The host said that the works in his collection all have a twist like this and none of it is as it initially appears.

In the dinning room room I had a hard time deciding where to look first.  There was this amazing large scale photo of St Mark’s Square (in Venice) photographed by Italian artist Massimo Vitali and a series of photograph of teenagers each demanding my attention.  The photographs of the teenagers were made by Dutch artist Hellon van Meene.  The photographs were disturbing, compelling and thought provoking, each photograph showed a subject who seem abandoned, terribly alone and vulnerable.  I loved Vitali’s photograph of St Mark’s Square in Venice.  It was taken from a Birdseye view and seemed to pulse with live and vitality; it was gorgeous.

In the foyer there was a large photo by New Orlean’s artist Sharon Core, it was a work after Wayne Thiebaud.  The host told me that she was a food stylist and photographer who saw a book of Thiebaud’s work and replicated each painting by baking the cakes and decorating them to identically reproduce the paintings.  She then photographed them and the results were amazing.  The hosts have several works by Sarah in their collection and the one I saw was amazing.

Silly to say but in a house filled with gorgeous art my favorite photograph was a small one on the mantle in the room adjoining the kitchen.  It was this small amazing portrait of an older woman. I am assuming it was Mr or Mrs. Podesta’s mother or a relative of the family (I was later told, this wonder picture was of the owner’s Mother) ; but I didn’t ask at the time.  Why did I like this photograph? It conveyed all of the love and emotion I usually associate with a well executed black and white portrait, but it was in color.  This woman looked like the kind of person who was warm and genuine, who loved to make people happy, who loved to cook and feed friends and family.

Collecting Art

Pussy Willow, by Duane Keiser

Pussy Willow, by Duane Keiser

The Theory.

I do not have a MFA. I did not study Art Criticism, Art History or even Art Theory in college. I probably have a fairly unsophisticated taste in art~I don’t mean ignorant, just not sophisticated. I love art and I buy what I can afford when I have the chance.

Most of what I prefer could be termed as classical realism, which sounds pretty cool but there are times I am not certain exactly what that means. I’ve found some work with this label, that is~to me at least, doesn’t even remotely resemble a realistic work (unless it was painted in a methane vapor environment); although they are painted well. Perhaps its semantics since those works were representational but not even remotely realistic?

When I look at the artwork on display at the Art Renewal Center (ARC) which is a pillar of classical realism, I find I love some artists linked there and intensely dislike others.

I guess one way I would define classical realism or at least realism, is to see if the painter was honest in what they painted? Did they make the painting flattering to see more paintings or were they true and honest representations?

I keep thinking about Mary Cassatt and Degas and how she disliked at least one of the portraits he painted of her. I believe it was because she considered it so unflattering~but was it true to what he saw?

I admire figure paintings by Michelle Tully, Leo Neufeld, Jacob Collins, and Tony Ryder yet dislike many of the paintings by their mentor Ted Seth Jacobs. This is pretty odd since most of these artists studied with Ted at the Art Student League in NYC and I dislike many of Ted’s work. I couldn’t figure out why until I read at his site that “the artist works only from life, objects, or the imagination.” Perhaps it the ones he painted from the imagination are the ones I dislike? I have no idea. So again, perhaps for me the definition of classical realism should include something about painted from life.


Why am I blathering about this? Well besides learning to oil paint, I am also learning on a very small scale how to collect art. I’ve exchanged several emails with Mr. Gregory Peterson about his collection and how he started and what were his ‘lessons learned.” NOTE: I am a huge fan about learning from someone else’s mistakes or the things they did right.

Some of his lessons learned surprised me. I always thought you’d just buy what you love and then one day you’d *poof* have a collection. It works this way for many people-heck that’s what I was doing, but my very tiny collection lacked a core focus to guide future purchases.

Gregory suggested that I write a statement of what I wanted to collect and what the focus of the collection should be.  Gregory said that this would help me make purchasing decisions as well. So I decided the following:

I want to collect smaller scale, honest representational and realistic paintings/drawings which I love and effect me on  emotional level. I will focus on work by living artists and concentrate on works produced from 1995 to the present time.

So what do I have in my tiny collection? Several landscapes studies by Peter Holbrook; several landscapes Michelle Tully, a beautiful painting of an apple, a tiny still life and one portrait by Michelle; an oil study of onions by Tony Ryder; one oil sketch and a pencil sketch by Leo Neufeld, one oil sketch and pencil drawing by Robert Liberace, a wonderful dog painting by Damon Lehrer; several paintings by my friend Chris Perez; a large painting by Annie Dover; and several tiny paintings by Duane Keiser. My newest addition is a delightful painting by Kim Roberti.

If you noticed that most of the paintings are small or are studies, this was a deliberate decision. I do not have the

Onions by Anthony Ryder

Onions by Anthony Ryder

income to support large art purchases and I don’t have that kind of space to hang art now that I live in the Washington DC area.  My choices were buy prints, photography  or small works/studies. This means that I can occasionally afford the work of someone I really love.

I’ve purchased the works by Michelle Tully and Tony Ryder through the Silver Fortress scholarship auctions on eBay. You can buy delightful 4″x4″ paintings which support their scholarship fund for the Silver Fortress Atelier in France. I bartered with a friend for several of his paintings and I’ve been lucky enough to buy several of Duane Keiser’s works through sheer persistence.

Another great way to buy art from an artist I love is to attend a live draw event they are participating in. Typically the sale price goes directly to the artist so you are not paying a gallery commission. I’ve also been fortunate to purchased art work that was created during demos in classes I’ve taken. this is really a bonus since I have a memento of the course AND I can study how the artist created the work by looking at it and comparing it to my notes, it allows leisurely detailed study.

Rules Were Meant to be Broken (Sometimes).

This painting always makes me smile. I can’t begin to think where it fits in with my small collection, other than I love it and it always makes me laugh. I found this during the artDC show at the convention center this spring. artDC is a very serious show international art show, one does NOT belly laugh there.

ArtDC 2007 had some amazing works, a Van Gogh etching, Picasso etchings ad naseum, world class photography, and amazing paintings of every genre and size and well as video works. I collected several art folios/brochures of the works that made me drool, but sadly they were out of my reach and the reach of probably anyone who isn’t’ independently wealthy or has a trust fund.

Hello Botticelli by Leslie Holt

Hello Botticelli by Leslie Holt

Then I turn a corner and I see these paintings. From what I remember, there was a my kitty in a painting of The Shootings of May Third 1808 by Goya, Picasso’s Guernica, a Degas kitty ballerina, and a kitty Frieda Khalo. There were probably a few others, but I don’t remember. I fell for this one (although I loved the Goya and the Khalo too).

The first time I saw it I stood in front of it and ‘belly laughed’ for a solid 10 minutes. I cried I was laughing so hard. It is not a ‘serious’ piece of art but it sure is a fun one. Artist Leslie Holt painted mine sometime between 1 January and April 2007. I’ve tried to google her but haven’t found out much about her. I asked the gallery who sold me this if she was making some type of deep social statement (which I had somehow missed). The lady said, no, she just likes my little kitty. Cool.

Are her paintings sacrilege? Perhaps. But they made me laugh and this painting cheered me up during a very sad time in my life.

I hope I don’t Sound Priggish…

When I hear people talking about art I think about museums and corporations. Or those famous private collections like those of the Mellons, Phipps, and Rockerfellers. But normal folks collect art as well and learning from Gregory Peterson has helped me really refine what it is I want.