Art for Sale
The Phillips’ Mill Art Exhibition, long a local favorite event, is also a selling gallery. It’s a great place to learn how to buy art and make that first purchase, or to add something special to your collection.
To get some insights into art buying strategies, The Grist visited with Harriet and Paul Gratz, owners of Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio, in Doylestown. For fifteen years, Gratz Gallery has been a trusted, respected local resource for Pennsylvania Impressionist (New Hope School) painters as well as distinguished living artists. Harriet Gratz served on the Phillips’ Mill board of directors, until recently when her term expired, and she still volunteers with the Mill.
OK, so let’s say you’ve never bought a painting, and you’re scared. How should you approach it?
Paul:Well, then, the Art Show is the perfect time for you to buy. First of all, it’s juried, so you know that respected art professionals have said that of the 400 or so paintings entered, these deserve to be featured for various reasons. Next, you’re getting a chance to buy already-framed art at fair prices.
Harriet: Right: you need to factor into it that the artist paid maybe $50 for a canvas, and maybe another $20 in materials, plus brushes, plus easily maybe $100 for a frame. So there’s $200 in costs right there before the artist puts a price on the painting. Plus, the artist is sharing the price with the Mill, so when you buy at Phillips’ Mill, you’re helping the community of living artists that we all want to see flourish in Bucks County, PLUS you’re helping a worthy nonprofit.
Are there other advantages to buying at Phillips’ Mill?
Paul:Sure. You’re likely to get a bargain price for an emerging Bucks County artist who goes on to be prominent. Who doesn’t like to get a good deal!?
So, are you saying “buy for investment?”
Paul: Historically, art doesn’t lose value. But that’s like the stock market. Who really knows what is going to be worth more later on? No, look at the show, see what appeals to you and what you love. Buy it because you love it and you will never be sorry you did. Plus you’ll have it a long time.
Harriet: Exactly. How much pleasure is that $500 iPhone going to be giving you in 5 years, 10 years, huh? (laughs) Art is joyful, it lights up your life. Other things you buy lose value immediately. A car drops in value as you drive out of the lot. Real estate is not a sure investment. Buy art because you love it.
Paul: Let’s talk about value. You could see a Monet and think, “wow, I love that, I’ll buy a good reproduction of it.” I’ve seen people spend up to $1,000 mounting, framing and putting glass on some repro, and I think “You could have had an original.”
That’s a good point. Phillips’ Mill is selling originals.
Paul: Yeah, you own a UNIQUE thing no one else has. WOW. Your sofa is never going to be unique.
What if you’re overwhelmed. You see all the works in the show and you can’t decide which one.
Harriet: This comes up in our gallery and I tell people, OK, think of the amount of money you’re comfortable spending. Now look at the paintings that really speak to you and pause in front of each one and place it in your home or office…think how it would look at the top of the stairs or above your sofa. Suddenly, you’ll get a strong feeling that one painting is more “for you.” It’s like the restaurant menu. You know what’s really going to taste delicious to you if you think about it a little.
Paul: You can ask yourself, “why is this painting appealing to me?” It could be the color, or it just makes you feel a little happy. You can’t put a price on that! Or maybe it means something to you, it reminds you of your grandparents’ home or maybe it’s a baseball picture and your son loves baseball. Once you unlock why it has meaning for you, you know which painting is right for you. And since you can pay for it with credit cards, you don’t have to come up with the money all at once anyway.
Any last thoughts?
Paul: This is a win-win. You buy a painting at the Phillips’ Mill show and you get an extraordinary value, you support a local artist, and you support a worthy cause. Everybody wins and you get to keep the painting!
Grist Readers: Have you bought a painting or sculpture at one of the Phillips’ Mill exhibitions? We’d love to hear from you. Are you glad you bought it? How has it played a role in your life? Would you be willing to share on our Facebook page a picture of it or a few sentences about the experience of buying art? Remember to give a shout out to your favorite artist and mention who made the artwork you bought.
Go to your Facebook page, search for “Phillips’ Mill” in the search window at the top, and our page will come up. “Like” us and then post something on our wall. We’d love to learn where works from shows in the past now live!