Art media

Affordable, quirky art adds vitality and visual interest to a home: shop smart with these tips

Art dealer Heidi Lawrence calls it “going the loop”.

Someone walks into her Lake Oswego gallery, nods when she says hello, then slides in to look at the paintings, sculptures and art glass. A card next to each piece has the price and description.

When the visitor repeats a loop, it is to focus on a specific work. That’s what caught their attention, notes Lawrence, co-owner of the venerable Lawrence Gallery.

Finding the art you love can be as easy as stopping to look. And yet, ask yourself: how long are you going to stare at that blank wall in your home before committing to a canvas that will add vitality and visual interest?

Original art elevates a home: it’s a conversation starter that brings vitality and dimension, and adds color to neutral interiors. And since the art is created in a range of mediums, it is priced to suit any budget.

Art sellers understand buyer hesitation: no one wants to post a bad decision. The art in your home should make you feel good every time you see it, but it’s also a reflection of who you are and your tastes.

To facilitate the choice, many dealers, as well as the Portland Art Museum’s Rental Sale Gallery, allows you to live with a piece before you buy it, and the artists invite you into their studio to learn more about visual creations that evoke emotions.

And all the museum shops sell affordable prints, maps and books with reproductions of original works.

Some portraits by photographer Jason Hill exhibited at AUX/MUTE Gallery to Portland Museum of Art are sold in limited edition in the store on the fourth floor of the gallery called the Numz Bodega.

A 16-inch square print is $50.

“At these price points, we are expanding the view of what an art collector looks like,” said dj ambush of the AUX/MUTE gallery, which presented works by black artists. “Affordable art is no less original or less important, and it can be the first or second piece in someone’s collection.”

At a time when more underrepresented artists are being invited to exhibit their work in museums and art galleries, and where NFT (non-fungible token) digital art and other non-traditional arts are being valued, institutions seem more welcoming, Ambush said. And he spreads the word.

As a radio personality on an independent black station The Numberz FM (96.7), Ambush was diffusion of the Portland Art Museum since the opening in 2019 of the exhibition “Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…”.

Since the AUX/MUTE gallery opened in August 2021, Ambush has met visitors to the museum for the first time who said they came to see one of the gallery’s star artists. Many then venture on to see other exhibits such as the work of four contemporary Aboriginal artists in “Mesh.”

“Being here and creating content and art in this building feels like home,” Ambush said.

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith creates original works of art in her studio in Modoc Point, southern Oregon.Photograph by Sam Gehrke

Art is intimidating. A survey found that most people see buying art as scarier than buying real estate, said Bradley Lawrence, who owns a commercial real estate finance business and is the second-generation co-owner of the Lawrence Gallery with his wife, Heidi.

According to art researchers, 95% of people in the United States have never purchased original artwork. The main reasons? Most said they think art is exclusive, too expensive and involves too much pressure.

It’s no surprise that artists and art dealers want to change this perception. They say art adds a narrative to a living space. And the story of the artist is part of it.

Multimedia artist Ka’ila Farrell-Smith sees art as a powerful educational tool.

His contemporary paintings, often inspired by his environmental activism, have been exhibited at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Portland Art Museum — currently seen at “Mesh” — as well as many other museums and galleries, including the blue sky gallery in northwest Portland.

Farrell-Smith, a member of the Klamath Modoc tribes in southern Oregon, talks openly about land justice. Visitors to his Modoc Point studio or those who consult his social networks pages and videos To learn it “Returning Land” a series of paintings refer to his opposition to gas pipelines and other forms of corporate energy.

The works were also influenced by “Indigenous sovereignty, Black Lives Matter and all the political activist work that is breaking up right now“, she said in a Scalehouse Gallery presentation filmed in Bend in 2020.

Farrell-Smith is the daughter of art lovers: Jane Farrell and late Alfred (“Al”) Leo Smith, the Native American rights advocate whose religious freedom case shaped US law after he refused to accept a ruling by the US Supreme Court.

Al Smith was called “Red Coyote”. A slice of its history is depicted in Farrell-Smith’s five-color lithograph “Red Coyote for Pitsap” ($800; 30 by 22.25 inches).

Collectors can connect to an artist or a single work. There’s more than one right answer to finding the type of art you love, said Heidi Lawrence, who is also a commercial and residential designer. It could be the mood: a landscape can be a soothing reminder of a carefree childhood, while an abstract can be a somber catalyst for reflection, she said.

To make it easier for potential clients to access the art, the Lawrences make house calls. They represent nearly 100 artists from across the Northwest, and prices start at under $50 for, say, a handmade copper bowl. Original ceramic and glass pieces cost less than $100. And small original and framed oil paintings start under $250.

“We have no obligation to visit,” said Heidi Lawrence, whose in-laws started the hassle in 1977 to spotlight local artists creating contemporary and traditional works. “Art is a luxury good. People have to take their time. »

The Lawrence Gallery had showcases in McMinnville, Portland’s Pearl District and the Marlet at the Salishan Coastal Lodge at Gleneden Beach before regrouping into a single gallery at Lake Oswego.

“People come in here and tell us they bought a piece of art 20 years ago and it makes them happy every day,” said Heidi Lawrence. “When it’s the right piece, it’s like a jewel. It finishes the space, it makes our customers happy, and we feel like brokers of joy.

Bradley and Heidi Lawrence of the Lawrence Gallery, now at Lake Oswego.Loren Castillo Photography/Lawrence Gallery

Heidi and Bradley Lawrence of the Lawrence Gallery, now in Lake Oswego, offer art consultations and home visits.Loren Castillo Photography/Lawrence Gallery

Art dealers Bradley and Heidi Lawrence offer these suggestions for getting comfortable with original art:

Spend time with art. Visit museums and galleries and attend artistic walks, art fairs and auctions.

A bonus: art galleries don’t charge admission like museums. “It’s a great way to pass your time, surrounded by original, varied and beautiful works of art,” said Bradley Lawrence.

Also look auction catalogs, register for art newsletters and pay attention to what kinds of art appeal to you.

artsy, an online art brokerage, lets you see what’s on public view and helps you find artists, from Banksy at Anis Kapoor, Paul Oxborough at Sounik Kwon, and buy or bid on paintings, sculptures, photographs or prints.

Other online sellers like art researcher and 1stdibs allows you to search for artists from Oregon.

Understanding art dealers. Dealerships should welcome you without forcing you to buy. Prices should also be clear. Make an appointment to view the art in the gallery or request a consultation at your home.

“Unlike some big cities, we’ve always been welcoming and friendly to all visitors, as most art galleries in the Northwest are,” said Bradley Lawrence.

If you don’t want to loop through a gallery, visit their website to find pieces of interest – not everything is on display – and check out artists’ social networks like Patreon, ICT Tac and instagram to find their inspiration. Then call or email for more information.

Four decades of Portland Elizabeth Leach Gallery at live openings and artist talks on his Facebook and Youtube pages to encourage hesitant people to enter the art world at their own pace.

When you’re ready to commit, you can buy from the gallery or its website – and have your purchase delivered or shipped almost anywhere.

Not all walls need art. The empty space works as a beautiful backdrop for the original art. Heidi Lawrence helps clients identify a focal point or two in their home.

A gallery wall allows a collection of artistic objects to look attractive together while injecting personality and color into a space. Display a small sculpture or memento on a art shelf and hang a canvas print, portrait Where typography on the wall.

Limited edition prints and reproductions, especially works by famous artists, are widely available.

Hire an artistic advisor who understands your tastes and has connections to galleries and artists.

“Some people don’t have a high level of confidence in what they’ve chosen, but it makes them happy, which is great,” Bradley Lawrence said.

Financial art: To help make art purchases more affordable, some galleries and marketplaces allow you to pay over time.

The Lawrence Gallery partners with an online lender art money to provide interest-free financing for 10 months on art purchases of $1,000 or more.

Other dealers have agreements with To assert, a lender that lets you pay in three, six, or 12 monthly installments at a rate you’ll see before you leave (from 0% to 30% depending on your credit score).

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072

[email protected] | @janeteastman