The Art of Collecting

Practical tips for choosing and acquiring works of art
by Melody Taylor
artA piece of fine art is more than a tax deduction or a splash of color to match a living room sofa. For collectors, it can be a visual expression of personal struggles, a meaningful heirloom to be passed on for generations, or a way to connect with a community. But the world of artists, galleries, curators and patrons can seem overwhelming and out of reach for many. This month we offer tips from local art experts for those who would like to build a personal art collection—if they only knew where to begin.
“I would definitely go with something you love,” says Debra Murphy, professor of art history and chair of the Department of Art and Design at the University of North Florida. “I think you just need to be crazy about it.”
Some art collectors choose works based on style or subject matter. If you have more eclectic tastes or haven’t quite figured out whether watercolor landscapes or abstract oils are your forte, high-quantity observation is a good way to find out.
Take advantage of local art scene opportunities to help develop a discriminating eye. Both the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens and MOCA Jacksonville offer free or discounted admission on specified days, and Riverside Arts Market and Downtown Art Walk are always free and open to the public. Riverside’s CoRK Arts District houses studio and gallery space for dozens of local and regionally acclaimed artists, while the Urban Core’s Southlight Gallery seeks to promote the works of emerging and established area artists through engaging with the public.
An added benefit of participating in creative community offerings is the chance to interact with up-and-coming artists and curators with regional expertise. Many artists love to discuss the inspiration and process behind their works, and you’re sure to learn more about your own tastes as you learn about theirs.
pictured: CoRK Arts District