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Friday, January 06, 2012

art collecting in washington dc - a quest to fill my home with visual coolness

so last year my friend and ultra talented artist sean hennessey made this post about his art collection made up of other local artists, and i had said that i should make one of those posts too. after all, i am a huge believer in supporting the local arts community, and most of my local friends are artists who live and create here.  fast forward a little over a year, and here i am, making good on my promise to share the goods on my own acquisitions, as well as info on some of the artists i'd someday hope to add to my small but growing art collection.

despite being an artist for decades, i only began seriously looking at collecting art after being more involved in the art dc art scene myself. to someone on the outside, the process of finding and purchasing art can be overwhelming, frustrating, and possibly intimidating. however, i can assure you that most local artists  are not only down to earth, but will be more than happy to talk with someone about their art and process. also, lots of people think you need a ton of money to be able to afford to collect art. this is not always the case! there are so many awesome yet affordable pieces out there that are perfect for all levels and tastes of art collection.  hopefully someone who has an interest in starting to collect local art and does not know where to begin can take something away from this post in that respect.

as with sean's post, this is highly subjective. just because someone is not on this list doesn't mean they aren't a good artist - that would be silly. i'm also not really concerned with the investment potential of art, but rather if it will be a good fit for my personal aesthetic as well as a good fit for the logistics of how and where it will be displayed.  in layman's terms, i buy art that moves me and will also fit within my budget and house and will not get knocked over by two huge and often crazy dogs.  :)

and yes, i own art by artists who are not from dc, but that is not the focus of this post. i am also proud to say that the bulk of my collection is made up of locals because honestly, there is so much talent right in this area that i rarely have to look elsewhere to find amazing art.

so up first, a list of many of the local dc area artists that i already own, and how i came to own them:

(the pictures really do not do these artworks justice, but if you like, click on the images to see them larger...)

1. sean hennessey: i'll start with sean since he made the original post which spurred this one. i have known sean for almost as long as i've lived in dc, and have always wanted one of his artworks. i saw this concrete relief sculpture at artomatic some years ago and figured it was finally time to add him to the collection. sean is now working with concrete and glass media combined, and his work is beautiful. later this year we will be in an exhibit together which will focus on the use of glass, steel, and other mixed media of that nature, and i am excited about that!

2. christian tribastone: i first saw christian's work at artomatic and thought it was incredible. unlike a lot of the other artists whose work i like, i had not heard of him before that event so i stalked his display space until i finally got to meet him. i've since participated in quite a few sketch crawls with christian, and am constantly amazed by his ability to capture the essence of a scene.  most of his work is architectural in nature, but the piece i chose is a bit different (from his inauguration series), though also typical of dc.
3. johanna mueller: i acquired this piece of johanna's from... yes, artomatic. do you see a theme here? ;)  i had seen her work for a few years and thought her intricate prints were very cool. finally, i decided to add one to my collection when i saw this piece - several members of my family collect camels, and i thought this piece would be a nice thematic tie-in to that.  johanna is the only washington dc artist whose work i own but who i have not met in person... and i will hopefully be able to rectify that in the near future.

4. sean welker: sean left dc for chicago a couple of years ago, but when i purchased this piece from him he was still right in the center of the dc art scene. sean is an awesome friend and wildly talented, and i knew as soon as i saw this pen and ink series that i wanted one of his pieces for my own. the one i chose was displayed at the last artomatic, and luckily was not ruined (vandals struck his space that year and several of his pieces were casualties).  in any case, i miss sean and being able to see this piece every day makes him feel a little bit closer in spirit.
5. dana ellyn: dana is a staple in the dc art scene and is quite a prolific painter. i had seen her work at artomatic for a few years running, but purchased this piece depicting president taylor from her president series directly from her downtown dc studio.  not only did i come away with this piece, but i got a personalized tour of her work space which was an added bonus.

6. todd gardner: todd is a friend of mine and is quite fond of puns and word play, which is apparent in his paintings.  while i had been a fan of his portraits as well as his paintings of sideshow robots for a while, this painting was actually a gift for my birthday from andy (my husband), and was a total surprise when i went to the gallery for the opening reception and found out that the red dot next to it was MY red dot. :)

7. gina tibbott: i am not sure if gina is still in the dc area or not, but i was absolutely mesmerized by her display at artomatic a few years back and just had to have one of these awesome faux fossil sculptures. the bizarreness of the piece just makes me incredibly happy, and i am glad i was able to track her down to purchase it (she did not have a web site or contact info at her space so i had to use the google machine on the interwebs to find her).

8. jeanette herrera: jeanette is an awesome person and an awesome painter. her work is so bizarre and colorful that i immediately knew i wanted one. last year we made that happen when we purchased this piece from an exhibit in virginia. but, i first saw her work (and later met her) at artomatic, where she has participated for the last few years.

artists whose work i hope to acquire someday:
all artists were first seen by me at... artomatic.  and i have been stalking their web portfolios and brick and mortar exhibits ever since!  this list is always morphing and growing as i am exposed to more local artists' work...

1. phil nesmith: phil works primarily in 19th century photographic plate processes, so despite being a photograph, each piece is unique and fragile. he's had several exhibits locally and i am always impressed. because they are one of a kind and labor intensive, i am saving up so that eventually i will be able to buy one before they are all snapped up.

2. michael janis: michael's work with glass and imagery was one of the main inspirations for me to pursue my own work in glass. i am hoping that someday i can say i own one of his exquisite pieces of art.

3. novie trump: novie's sculptures captivated me. i saw a piece of hers last year that i loved, but sean hennessey beat me to it. i forgive him... and can't blame him for buying it because it was a beautiful piece. i always check out her displays and open studios, and one day, i will find the piece i was meant to have.

4. gregory ferrand: gregory's paintings are very illustrative and full of narrative, which is a quality that i love. again, having the money in hand AND being the first one to the piece i want is the challenge there.

5. shanthi chandra-sekar: shanthi's work, especially her 6 foot tall spiral paintings, are intricate and mesmerizing. she also creates wonderful sculptures of wood and stone. additionally, the meaning behind the works are wonderful to hear.

6. erica riccardelli: being a photographer myself, i rarely feel the urge to buy photography. however, erica's work is eerie and stunning and i might one day find myself owning one of her artworks.

in case you missed it, my main source of finding and purchasing new art thus far has been through artomatic in some way. due to the volume and layout of artomatic events, they can be overwhelming, but they are also an awesome way to find new artists and get some pretty great art for not as much money as you think it might cost.

there are also some great gallery spaces in dc and it's a less overwhelming way to see art than some of the bigger art events. most galleries and individual artists will put out information about their opening receptions, artist talks, etc, and if you are interested in a particular artist or piece of work, you should definitely check out these events. you can get a ton of information about the artist and artwork straight from the source while simultaneously seeing the artwork displayed in person. owning art is a whole lot cooler when you have met the artist. you can't beat that!

lastly, most artists these days have web sites with methods of contact. as i mentioned before, most artists are more than happy to talk with or even meet with someone who is interested in buying a piece of work. everyone i've encountered while growing my art collection has been friendly and open in discussing everything from technique to materials to inspiration for their artwork, and many artists have studios that you can visit to see them in their natural habitat, if you will.  sure, there are some people who might cop an attitude, but for the most part that is a rarity in the dc area.. at least in my experience.

so, hopefully this very long post has been informative in some way. so go forth, find art that moves you, and don't be afraid to make it yours!

About Me

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I am a sculptor, photographer, and mixed media artist based in the Washington, DC metro area. I sculpt with steel and glass, and enjoy people and holga / alternative processes photography best, although I experiment with many different subjects and media where I find them.

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