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The Craze for Country -- It's Worth Keeping Your Head

March 1st, 2018

The Craze for Country -- It

I don't watch TV, but even from under my rock and behind my easel it's hard not to miss that country is in -- which is great, because I live in the country myself and know that it's called beautiful for a reason.

What makes me sad about the country craze is the push by TV, talk show, magazine and other "down-home" celebrities to force people into a fantasy, sanitized version of "country living" that has everything to do with pressure to make the house look like something on the TV set, and not a home that people actually want to live in. Real country homes look like people live in them -- not everything matches; there's something old and something blue and something borrowed in them; and the items that are there are -- or should be -- meaningful to the people who own them.

As long as a person's major source of country decor is a TV show, blog, or magazine, then what they get won't be a home, but rather a potential showcase that's constantly in transition, and will never reach completion because the goal behind home country decor shows is to keep selling products.

"But you sell a product," people might object. "You sell art." That I do -- and the art I create, paint, and sell goes far beyond mason jars that -- in a secondhand store actually cost under a dollar, but from the country design guru, go for much more than that. If you're going to invest in anything to create the sense and beauty of country, then go for the art, because it not only adorns the wall, it takes you, the viewer, out of the room and into the landscape.

Why Regular People Are Better Art Buyers Than Fabulously Rich People

September 5th, 2017

Why Regular People Are Better Art Buyers Than Fabulously Rich People

The art world is like any other industry, and it is filled with myths. One of the most prevailing of these, believed by both artists and people who are not artists, is that extremely wealthy people know good art when they see it, and what they buy is always a good investment. This, it is assumed, is the major reason to purchase art: as an investment.

After all, in order to buy an iconic work like The Scream, the famed 1895 pastel by Edvard Munch, one obviously much be richer than the normal person, since at the latest auction the work auctioned off for $119.9 million. And although the average person, upon seeing the drawing, would think, "That drawing looks like it was done by a 10-year-old," he or she is reluctant to say this aloud because somebody just spent $119.9 million on it -- and anyone who has that much money must be smart, right? Because in our culture, another of our myths is that outrageously wealthy people are that way because they are smarter, kinder, better, and simply superior to others. (This is a pretty good distillation of the plot of the book, Atlas Shrugged, used as a game plan by many that regular, ordinary people would term "elite.)

But an item's intrinsic -- natural, essential -- value is frequently at variance with what the market assesses it to be worth, and this is patently obvious in the art world. As the old saying goes, "It's worth what a person is willing to pay for it." For a brief time in the 17th century, people were willing to pay as much for a tulip bulb as they would for a house. Crazy, you say? How is that any different from five bidders driving the final price up to $119.9 million for a drawing that looks like it was done by a 10-year-old, when there are ample artworks, by actual 10-year-olds, available for much less? What, exactly, is the intrinsic value of The Scream?

And herein we find the reason why ordinary, regular people have the potential to be better art buyers than the fabulously rich: when they buy an artwork -- whether it's a print, an original painting, or an image on a coffee cup -- for no other reason than because they like it, and the image speaks to their heart and soul, then they are purchasing art with their mind, and not their sense of cunning that they are a savvy investor.

And when they take that artwork and place it, not in a vault or safe, but on their walls where they see and enjoy it every day, then they are honoring the skill, ability, soul, and hard work of the artist.

Of course, people who buy artwork for no other reason than that they like it are frequently told, by the elitists of the art industry, that they are naive, unsophisticated, and foolish, But it's not an impossible conclusion to draw that the person who treasures the artwork because of its appeal to the heart and soul, understands much more about art than the one who treats it as nothing more than an investment.