Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Expensive Hobby

by Jeffe Kennedy
My great indulgence? The thing I splurge on, even when I shouldn't?


I know - it sounds kind of harmless. After all, it's not like I can't stay off the crack cocaine or that I'm on the home shopping channel compulsively buying things that stack up in the spare room. And, art is an investment, right?

Not the way I buy it. For it to be a real investment, you have to know the market and purchase artists who are likely to gain in value. Kind of like stocks. I buy out of love, which is akin to always betting on your home team, regardless of the statistics.

I blame my mother, really.

Some of my earliest memories are of cruising in and out of art galleries. My folks would go on vacation to Santa Fe or San Francisco, giggling over whatever outrageous art purchase they'd made. Once, after a particularly wonderful and wine-filled dinner in downtown Denver, they fell in love with a painting in a gallery window and resolved to dig up the (piles of) money to buy it. If the place had been open, they wouldn't have had the sober reflection of the next morning to change their minds.

Dutifully following in my mother's footsteps, I've spend a lot of money on art. The one to the left, Straight is the Gate, is something I saw in Newport, Oregon and had to have. Over a year later I got a new job with a shiny new salary - to celebrate, I had the gallery ship this to me.

I buy art from people I know and those I don't. Hey Arnold, up above, was painted by David's sister. I've informed her that I'm expecting great things and ample return in value.

The painting at the very top is by a Santa Fe artist. I fell in love with one of her paintings, resisted buying it, like a good kitty, then experienced severe non-buyer's remorse. The painting I'd wanted had sold, but she painted me one on commission, from a Celtic symbol I love.

It's gotten so that David can tell the moment I've spotted a piece of art I have to have. He just shakes his head at me and says I might as well just buy it now, instead of hauling him back multiple times to gaze at it and yearn.

One of the worst things about this habit is, you begin to run out of wall space. We actually bought our last house partially because it had lots of lovely places for me to hang all the art I've collected. In our much smaller house, a bunch of it remains packed up in storage.

It would be lovely to have a splurge that doesn't cost me hundreds or thousands at a pop.

But then, this was never about logic. Only love.


  1. Oh, wow, I love Straight is the Gate. If you find a solution to the lack of wall-space that doesn't involve rotating pieces, do let me know, eh?

  2. Maybe one of those Matrix things, where we could accordion the walls?

    Glad you like SitG, too. You might not be able to see, but there's a snake skeleton around her feet.

  3. There is art I would love to buy. Problem is ten years ago the pieces were going for $10,000+ Just can't afford that.

    The artist is Andreas Nottebohm. He works with metal. Here is an example:

    When we saw his exhibition there were more oval and colors in them. Looking at his site, what he currently has up is more blocky and single colored. But still interesting.

  4. Very fun stuff, Beth! I suppose it's good to have the "someday when I have a bunch of money" wishes...

  5. I love the piggy painting!
    Wouldn't mind having somethin like that on my wall.

  6. What a great hobby! I don't know enough about art to make informed buying decisions, but I do love to buy street art and pieces people show in coffee shops. (There's a lot of both in San Francisco). I feel a kinship with the artists--I imagine they're struggling to make a living doing what they love, just like I am. (And I can totally identify with non-buyers remorse. How awesome that you were able to commission that piece! It's gorgeous.)

  7. Sullivan - I didn't even think of that! She has other paintings, where the pig is in there somewhere, but this was the first of the series.

    AJ, I'm not informed, either. I gave up on it. I never want to buy what I *should*. I feel that kinship, too. One of my favorite pieces is an etching by an artist who was at the same fellowship retreat with me. And yes, the commission cost more than the first painting would have, but now this is especially special.

  8. Just lovely! I especially love Straight is the Gate. I just looked up his other the art nouveau feel of it.

  9. I love his work, too, Laura/Alayna. Very enterprising of you - I should have said that's Miguel Nunez.

  10. I usually can't make up my mind or the piece I want is too expensive, but I love art. Art shouldn't be about pretension. If you love it and can afford it why not, especially it gives you joy.

  11. True, Chudney - though whether I can "afford" it is sometimes up for question...

  12. If I had the extra bucks, I'd buy everything in sight that Michael Parkes does:

  13. I dig the art thing too, but to be honest, I can never really seem to justify buying much of it. Or even I when I do buy it, it never gets hung up.


    On the other hand, I did go through a few years where I had a massive addiction to buying anime cels, even when I really couldn't afford them...

  14. I had been going to make the assanine statement that the DH and I don't collect art. Then I glanced around the room. Oh. Yeah. I guess we do. It's all just very post-paper and pencil D&D geeky.

  15. Oh, Laura, I *love* Michael Parks! I had a calendar of his stuff one year and might have, ahem, framed a couple.

    Allison, hang that stuff up! The anime cels, too.

    To each his own, Marcella. Geeky art is still art. That's the whole "what you love" part!

  16. I *still* have my Parkes "Athena" poster from college. :-)

  17. I'll have to see what the name is, but one of mine is very similar

  18. @Jeffe - I would love to hang up some of the cels, but honestly, they are very delicate and take special framing. You've seen my house - there's a lot of natural light which isn't good for cels and I'd find it terribly depressing to have spent $750 on one, just to have the pain start fading and peeling and all that. my closet they stay, for now.

  19. I think surrounding yourself with things of beauty that speak to you in some way is a lovely thing to do - and a perfect use for money. That said, I've only succumbed once or twice to a picture or painting I couldn't resist. Love the ones I have though.

  20. Hmm, Allison - we need to work on that special framing. And a dark, quiet room, with soft, focused light...

    That's exactly it, Kerry - they all speak to me and that's a precious thing. Hard to regret the "splurge" then.