By L Diane Johnson
A R T C O L L E C T I N G:
I LEARNED MY FIRST valuable lesson about art collecting thirty years ago within weeks of being represented by a major gallery. As a collector myself, I now have an even deeper appreciation for that initial notable experience.
The owner was the quintessential “package” of collector par-excellence – professional in every way – and very devoted to his base of corporate and residential collectors. The second week I was in this exquisite venue, he asked me to deliver another round of paintings.
What was to become a routine over many years, I traveled about an hour to deliver new works, entering through the framing area of the gallery.
On one such day in the second week of my emerging career, the owner invited me to a nearby restaurant for lunch. As we were leaving the shop I saw that my paintings were already hung on the wall with two women perusing one of the pieces. The two followed behind the owner and I as we left the gallery saying one to another, “Let’s talk about it over lunch.” The owner gave me a queue that they were considering the painting, and that they might have just “made a mistake.” At that time, I did not know he meant by “mistake.”
We had a delightful hour-long lunch then headed back to the gallery. As we were walking in, I noticed that my large painting was moved already, perhaps to another location.
With excitement, the gallery assistants told us that someone had just purchased my painting. “In just one hour?”, I inquired. “Yes, the man just walked out with it,” they replied. Just as I was about to fire back with a delighted, “What? It was only an hour; you’ve got to be kidding!”, the original two women returned from lunch faced with the blank wall.
They were stunned to learn that the painting had already sold. Boy, were they unhappy campers. I felt so badly for them. In the fray the owner recognized that I did not fully grasp what had just happened.
He proceeded to explain that if you love and want piece of art, yet hesitate, there is no guarantee it will still be there when you return. I could not believe it!
Since that time, I have seen this episode repeated over and over again. Someone wants to buy a work of art (or other original one-of-a kind item); goes away to “think about it” and is sadly disappointed upon their return. It has happened to me and it probably has happened to you.
There is something to be said for thoughtful purchasing, especially big-ticket items. Nevertheless, lesson learned. While some pieces of art hang for months awaiting “adoption”, still others fly off the walls. Problem is, you never know when your selection is the one that went thataway!