For many home owners, the selection of artwork is often considered an afterthought when planning a space. Yet the addition of art can add more to a room than mere decoration. \Indeed, art has the ability to truly set the tone for any design project.
But how does one obtain the right piece for their room? The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have great art. Just as long as the creation reflects your own personal taste. Luckily, the area is rich with local artists who can work with clients to make the perfect masterpiece for their home.
To that end, East Coast Home + Design reached out to gallery owners, artists and an art therapist to ask the simple question, “How do you define the importance of art in the home?” Along the way, we gained perspective on the power of art to define, dominate and even heal.
For David Morico, his work serves as the last piece in the puzzle of finishing a space. A local area artist who specializes in acrylics and mixed media art, Morico often finds himself meeting with decorators who are interested in adding an abstract piece to the home.
“I will often meet with designers who pass on samples and pictures of my work to the client and ask them if they would like to meet the artist,” Morico explained. “From there, I usually bring the homeowners into my studio to check out some of my completed projects. It’s also a great time to get to know the customer to determine if my style of art will work for them.”
Often clients will buy directly from his gallery of finished work. However, customers tend to commission a new piece. When that happens, he takes pride in finding colors they love to create a painting reflective of their tastes.
No matter which route the customer takes, Morico believes that there is only one way to see if an artwork really meets the lifestyle of the home owner. Living with it.
“If a client is unsure about what they want, I often send them some of my work for them to display in their home for a few weeks. It’s the only way they can really see if it fits their daily life.”
The Artist Therapist
“I believe that art can serve a dual purpose, “said Annie Arnold, a Chicago-based Art Therapist. “I’ve always been intrigued by the fact that it can be provide a narrative as well as be a very healing source. It’s what lead me to pursue art therapy as a career. The idea is that I can make art daily with someone while helping them to help themselves.”
A recent graduate of the Adler School of Professional Psychology, Annie has spent the past year working in a behavior health facility treating children and adults as part of her internship. It was there that she was able to see the transformative elements in action as she worked with trauma patients
According to Annie, the selection of materials can have often have a big therapeutic impact for her clients. And this effect can extend to the choices of artwork that one can display in the home. She cautions care must be given when choosing the right piece for a room.
“As an art therapist, I often find myself recognizing how color can affect my patients. So if I notice a client deeply affected by the color yellow, then I would suggest using that color to paint their walls or as a main basis of any art they display,” she said. “It’s all about selecting art that is both meaningful but also nourishing.”
The sentiment of selecting meaningful artwork is shared by Susan Grissom. She is Gallery Director of the Lionheart Gallery, a contemporary gallery in Pound Ridge, N.Y.
According to Susan, the most important part of selecting artwork to finish a space is picking something that you love without regard to an overall central theme. And that means sometimes buying a quirky piece that may seem out of step with the overall layout of the room.
“A lot of contemporary art buyers are drawn to whimsical works. They want something that really speaks to them, “explained Grissom. “Art tends to dominate the room. So usually the piece chosen represents something about the homeowner.”
Grissom often meets with decorators and clients in her gallery to explain the narrative behind some of the artists’ vision. This can become a catalyst for them to discover some of her galleries most interesting pieces for display.
For example, some of the gallery’s best-selling works were created by Betsy Podlach. An artist considered by some to be the Cindy Sherman of the portrait world, Podlach specializes in creating paintings depictions of animals within unusual environments.
“I’ve have several people recently buy her rabbit and dog portraits,” Grissom shares with a laugh. “I was really surprised because it all happened within two weeks. Bunny rabbits that were sitting charmingly and one of a leaping dog. Really sort of humorous pieces. But all of the buyers said that they saw something that made them smile.”
Using Art to Direct A Space
“To be honest, one of the most disappointing things is when art being added to a room as an afterthought,” said Geoff Walsky, the owner of the Fairfield Antiques Center. A multi-dealer antique and design space in Norwalk, CT, the center is also home to The LeClerc Contemporary Gallery. Which is a 2,000 square foot gallery that is named for Walsky’s great grandfather- Parisian artist Julien Jacques LeClerc.
“I truly believe it’s a mistake to not buy the art first and then design the room around it. The other pieces-can be used to blend and contrasts with the colors of the art. It really can make the work come alive when you use art to direct the other pieces in the space.”
To assist his clients with their choices, he often works closely with decorators to suggest area artists like photographer Dan Lenore.
This strategy is echoed by Lee Millazo, owner of the Samuel Owen Gallery in Greenwich, CT. He loves it when a home owner or designer starts with begins a design project with considering of the art being displayed.
“I work with one designer who regularly starts every project with the art pieces. She might contact me and say, ‘I’m working on a girl’s room’ and use a photograph to decide what gets pulled out of a space through color and design. Think about it. If you find a work that you love, you’re going to find elements of it that you will want to play up to better showcase the art. No matter if it’s color, or theme or whatever. ”
When asked why more decorators don’t utilize this strategy, Millazo said that it may be a lack of understanding what the right piece can bring to a space.
“I deal with a lot of decorators and more importantly, I deal with a lot of clients who hire decorators .And there’s always a question of art in the home. Many of home owners who feel that they are just not knowledgeable enough to select a piece of art for the room so they rely on the decorator’s advice. Conversely there are also situations where the decorator will decorate the room, then leaving it up to the client to purchase the artwork on their own.
The decorator may state that this is because art is a personal preference. However, what that really says to me is that the decorators themselves doesn’t really know enough about art to advise the client.”
Both men also agree that the selection of art must be based on what inspires you. The act of creating a visual theme isn’t as important as finding a work that you love. And that you don’t have to only purchase it from your nearest gallery.
“To be honest, art galleries can be an unfriendly environment,” Walsky said. “I’m telling people to be open to purchasing art anywhere. Flea markets, thrift stores. Even repurposing an existing item. You should really have fun with it while finding something that you can’t live without.”
And the best part of the process? According to Millazo, it’s when that initial purchase turns into a lifelong passion.
“We’ve turned a lot of people into art collectors, especially since they come in and buy a piece from a particular artist. And now, they have a fun project on their hands. One that allows them to pull out their laptops after the kids are asleep so that they can learn more about his other works. The best art serves as a conversation piece. And learning more about the artist can lead to an appreciation of other pieces. So when you are at a dinner party and someone says, ‘Hey, that’s a great painting, you can have a 20 minute discussion about the story behind it.”
“Trust me”, laughed Millazo. “You can’t do that with a couch or TV.”