The Art of Buying Art

Photo by Aaron Leimkuehler

Buy what you love is everyone’s first tip for amassing an art collection. OK. But then what?

Kansas Citians are lucky because of the abundance of artists living and working in the metro, largely because Hallmark and the Kansas City Art Institute are located here. Artists stay because of our comparatively low cost of living and the ability to find inexpensive studio space. Nationally known artists are well represented by the art galleries, and emerging artists’ works can be found at smaller galleries and even at KCAI semi-annual student sales.

Original art doesn’t have to be expensive or exclusive—and it’s so much more creative than mass-produced artworks or posters purchased from online retailers.

Finding art that appeals to you is a deeply personal exercise. One person’s Picasso is another person’s Thomas Kinkade. Collecting art should be a fun learning experience. Visit the plethora of galleries located throughout the city (preferably not on First Fridays!) to develop your eye. You’ll find that gallery directors and curators are generous with their time and expertise (see page 64 for some of their advice). Go to art fairs. We’re lucky enough to have some really good ones in Kansas City. You’ll find some artists whose works intrigue you. Follow them on Instagram.

Antique shops and flea markets are marvelous places to find vintage artworks and more unexpected pieces that you might not first consider.

Think about framing textiles or three-dimensional pieces that you find on your search. A Hermes scarf or a vintage dress can be a stunning statement when framed and displayed in a private space, such as a bedroom or even a closet. (If you’re lucky enough to have that kind of a closet, anyway!)

After all that, trust your judgement and just buy the art. There’s a bit of joy in living with art that you love and see every day.



The Arrangement

Hanging art on your walls can be stressful. Here are a few items that can make your collection stand out.

Light It Up: In the past, picture lights disappeared into the background, but now you can make a statement as much with the light as the art. There’s almost a steampunk look to this Visual Comfort picture light from the Furness collection, available at Rensen House of Lights (Overland Park). It’s available in antique burnished brass, bronze, and polished nickel. Furness picture light, $419 

Put A Frame on It: Select a vintage frame to surround a contemporary artwork for a bold, provocative statement. Imagine this circa late-1800s silver-gilt antique frame, from Pear Tree Design & Antiques (Crestwood Shops), bordering a striking black-and-white modern print. Silver gilt frame, $395

Shelve It: If you like to move your art around, or aren’t into hammering multiple nail holes in walls, a wall shelf is the perfect answer to displaying art. This simple steel Blu Dot Welf Shelf is a minimalist solution to the problem. The shelf, from Hutch (Crossroads), comes in two lengths and a multitude of finishes. One is sure to fit your décor. Large shelf, $129 



Clockwise from left: “Sasha Reading” by Jamie Chase, represented by Blue Gallery. “Sleeping Woman in Black Dress with Red Hair” by Akio Takamori, represented by Cerbera Gallery. “Robyn” by John Petrey, represented by Weinberger Fine Art. Choir “Boy Ed. 15” by John Buck, represented by Rachael Cozad Fine Art.


Art Works

Nervous about beginning or expanding your art collection? We asked several area gallerists for their best advice.

‘‘Over the years, there have been a few common questions that I’ve addressed on a regular basis: ‘I love it but wonder if it will it be too large or too small for the spot I have in mind.’ ‘Will it work with my existing collection or interior?’ Few know, but many galleries are happy to bring works out on approval so you can see first-hand how the artwork will work in your space. And most are happy to leave the works overnight or through the weekend, so you have time to think about it and view it in different lighting.”
Kelly Kuhn, Owner/Director, Blue Gallery

It’s important for collectors to be open-minded and not be afraid to invest in new/emerging artists while also collecting work that in ten years, will make them feel the same way they did when they bought it.”
Kennedy Burgess, Asst. Gallery Director, Cerbera Gallery

Don’t be shy when it comes to size. Especially if you have a minimalist approach to your color palette, a large-scale work of art adds fun, flair, and power to your space!”
Rachael Cozad, Owner, Rachael Cozad Fine Art

I always tell collectors to follow their passion and respond intuitively to the work they’re considering. If their passion and instincts inspire the acquisition, they’ll likely love it for life. For those collectors who live in KC it’s even better if the artist is from Missouri or Kansas.”
Paul Dorrell, President, Leopold Gallery + Art Consulting

When collecting art, find a gallery with a varied selection of work that makes you feel good when you walk in the door. A reputable gallerist will share their wealth of knowledge and expertise to help you find works that match your taste and budget.”
Kim Weinberger, Owner, Weinberger Fine Art