Gallery owners and artists across the region offer guidance and expertise for homeowners looking to buy art for their home
“You’ve got to find something in your private environment that elicits joy and triggers fond memories. That is my job as an artist—to create something that has a positive influence on the viewer,” says Julia O’Malley-Keyes, owner of O’Malley-Keyes Fine Art in Falmouth. Few understand how the subtle power the art in a home contributes to quality of life as well as O’Malley-Keyes, whose paintings are collected and enjoyed around the globe. Her intimate gallery in Falmouth welcomes visitors to drink in the richness of her talent and partake in her lively stories of her process and experiences. Understanding the importance of making art widely accessible, O’Malley-Keyes offers many of her oil paintings as fine art reproductions at reasonable prices. The discerning buyers who are able to hang her originals in their homes understand that surrounding yourself with art you love is more than an indulgence—it is an integral part of creating surroundings that feed your soul.
The Cape and Islands are fortunate to have hundreds of artists and galleries that offer a wide variety of styles, mediums and subjects in the art available for purchase. From the tip of Provincetown to the islands, the art community always has a story to tell. Helen Addison, principal of Addison Art Gallery in Orleans, has been working with artists and clients for many years and innately understands the relationship buyers have with the art that speaks to them. “Individuals look for art that will enhance their living and working environments. They often choose work that inspires, is reminiscent of treasured times and places, warms the heart, brings a smile, evokes thought and discussion,” Addison says. Addison is integrally involved in connecting artists to the community through her countless openings, exhibitions, events, workshops and demonstrations where art lovers can get closer to the process and the artists. The story and journey of the artist is not only inspiring for potential buyers but also becomes part of the legacy of a piece when it graces their home. “In buying art, and in life, people support people they like,” Addison observes. Addison, who represents some of the best-known artists of the region, including Paul Schulenburg, Marc Kundmann and Cleber Stecei, understands how the equation of introduction between artists and clients equals successful connections.
The distinction between a buyer and a collector comes down to emotion, according Colleen Vandeventer, one of the artist/owners of Gallery Artrio in Hyannis. “A collector is a buyer. But a buyer isn’t necessarily a collector in that they may have purchased only one piece of original art in their lives. But the potential for a collector to be born always starts with the first purchase and the awareness they now own a one-of-a-kind piece of art,” Vandeventer says.
Artist Karen Rinaldo, who recently opened a new gallery, Rinaldo Cross, on Main Street in Falmouth, to showcase her paintings as well as the work of over a dozen local artists, says the emotional connection is always the genesis. “Once an emotional connection is made, style and color and subject all seem to marry into one,” Rinaldo says. Like a good marriage, trust is built when a client connects with a piece. Rinaldo says, “When that trust has developed, and they are aware that you, the artist, are serious and committed to your work, but also care about the customer, they commit to the art.”
Scott Chapman, owner of Chapman Art Gallery on Route 28 in Cotuit, says making a connection with clients is the most rewarding part of owning a gallery. “You know, there is so much out there when it comes to collecting art and who you choose to purchase it from. It is so rewarding when a client returns to the gallery to look for their next piece. That relationship must be taken very seriously, but in a fun and loving way,” Chapman says. The regular and lively openings and exhibits Chapman hosts at his gallery set up an easy, friendly atmosphere for artists and clients to mingle and get to know each other while enjoying the beautiful art that surrounds them.
Chris Quidley, owner of Quidley & Company Fine Art on Nantucket, has been satisfying homeowners for years as they turn to his expertise and curated collection of artists. His experience is that every client is different. “Most have a unique approach of what drives them,” he says. “To be honest, some are searching to complement their surroundings, some look to have something that provides a ‘pop,’ some fall in love with a piece and will find a spot for it, and others collect a particular artist, school or genre.”
Susan Danton, owner of Miller White Fine Art in South Dennis, comes from a career as a professional art therapist. She says her expertise in how to present and discuss art is invaluable in her role as a gallery owner. “I would not have opened a gallery had I not fostered a lifelong love of the arts, but along with that affinity; I thoroughly enjoy talking about art with others,” she says. “It doesn’t matter who I am speaking to—we have a conversation about what we see in front of us, how it makes us feel and the ways we can relate to it.”
Hillary Osborn and Doug Rugh, a husband-and-wife team of artists who can be found painting regularly in their gallery in Falmouth, have developed deep and meaningful relationships with many of their clients who have purchased their oil paintings. “I think most people have their own particular taste in art, and even if they don’t know anything about it, they know good art when they see it,” Rugh says. “There is no wrong answer [to the question of taste], but what we choose to live with is a reflection of who we are.”
At Cross Rip Gallery in Harwich, artist and owner Georgene Riedl reflects, “I think most homeowners who buy original art for their home are first attracted to a piece because it ‘speaks’ to them, that is they are first moved on a deep emotional level. I suggest that they buy what moves them, whether they can verbalize what that is or not.”
Deciding where in your home to display the art you have purchased is another point of consideration. Sometimes homeowners are searching for something to complement their color scheme, or to fill a certain space. Many gallery owners and individual artists are receptive to what buyers are trying to achieve by acknowledging color or tone in their homes. Rugh puts the challenge in perspective by saying, “As creative people, we like limitations. It can be a struggle to start on a blank canvas with absolute freedom. If we know someone has a warm color scheme and wants, say, a peaceful late-afternoon seascape in a certain size, that is a great starting point for an artist.” Quidley shares his perspective by saying, “There are times when I choose a piece for my own house because of the colors in the piece, which can be powerful. Conversely, some of my favorite placements occur when the piece is chosen based on its own merit and it breathes new life into the area.”
At Gallery Artrio, a cozy Cape converted into a gallery, separate rooms are painted uniquely, allowing the owners to move paintings to different backgrounds to see how the piece might work in their own home. “This gives clients the freedom to choose a painting based upon how the color palette speaks to them personally versus how the color palette will work in their present décor,” says Vandeventer.
Anthi Frangiadis, a Marion architect who has created an eclectic gallery of local artisans’ work called The Drawing Room on Spring Street in Marion, says visitors are constantly surprised by the range of inspiration found in the many paintings, ceramics, woodwork and textile pieces on display. “I have found that clients who are coming in for architectural appointments suddenly want to explore how to incorporate art into the environment in a more deliberate way. And the regular shopping traffic is always interested in discussing how a piece might work in their home,” Frangiadis says. Leveraging the value of face-to-face interaction between artists and clients, Frangiadis hosts frequent “salon-based” open houses where interested buyers can gain access to the artisan and occasionally partake in hands-on workshops.
Sherry Rhyno, artist and owner of Gallery 31 in Orleans, where she represents more than 10 different artists, also talks about the importance of making art approachable. “Fine art is set apart by the style, quality and consistency of the artists who create it. While galleries offer a range of artists and therefore styles, concepts and price ranges, gallery owners create an environment for collectors and buyers to more easily visualize the art in their own homes. Building a trusting relationship with a gallery helps collectors make the right decision to enrich their visual space,” says Rhyno. Gallery 31, like most of the galleries found on the Cape, is always willing to place pieces under consideration in a client’s home to see if they become comfortable with it before purchasing.
Jill Rothenburg-Simmons, who co-owns On Center Gallery in Provincetown with Scot Presley, says they are fortunate to have significant storage space within their gallery that allows them to provide a deep inventory of choices to clients. “Our gallery is very diverse; we have artists from all around the country. We specialize in contemporary and transitional art, and once a client starts to respond to one thing or another, we’ll start a dialogue with them and we’ll identify a client’s tastes and interests through some discussion,” Rothenburg-Simmons says. “When someone is interested in something, we are able to go into storage and pick out some other things, whether it is the same artist or color or style, we’re able to work with them to find that right piece.” That personalized service resonates with clients who love getting a glimpse of their storage space, as it becomes a behind-the-scenes experience. “And our commitment to the customer extends to placing the art in the client’s home so they can see it with their furniture, wall color and how the light moves in their home,” she adds. “The clients appreciate those kinds of extra efforts.”
Much of the activity driving art purchases involves choosing a piece as a gift or to commemorate a significant event. Scott Chapman observes, “Someone buying a piece of art for a loved one is the most beautiful gifts and watching the process reveals how the buyer feels about the special person. It’s not about how the recipient might feel about the art—the real gift is the recognition of how the buyer feels about the recipient.”
Helen Addison, who frequently arranges commissioned pieces for clients, says milestones in people’s lives become more personal when recognized with a piece of art specific to the event. She has seen everything from a favorite view from a summer home to a “live” painting from a wedding reception become a special and truly unique piece.
Chris Quidley reflects, “Over the years, I have had so much fun helping my clients pull off a surprise for a loved one. Birthdays, anniversaries and celebration of a clean bill of health have all been used as excuses to acquire a special piece. Recently we set a certain piece in a window as part of a wedding proposal that will soon hang in the newlyweds’ home.”
When deciding whether or not to buy a piece of art and take it home, Julia O’Malley-Keyes suggests asking, “Can you live with this piece? Are you going to enjoy it on a daily basis? Will you see something new every time you pass by it? Will it trigger memories of happy times? It shouldn’t be a difficult decision; it should be a pleasant process.”