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Intro to art collecting

A new Halifax lecture series aims to demystify the world of art collecting

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Image courtesy of Studio 21 Fine Art. Painting by Marilyn McAvoy.

Walking into a commercial art gallery for the first time can be intimidating. But a new Halifax lecture series aims to encourage art fans to start their own home collections.

“Gallery owners and staff want to help more people become informed, ready to be educated, and ready to start their own art collections,” says Deborah Carver, director and owner of Studio 21 Fine Art in Halifax

That’s the idea behind ArtsCollect, a four-part series about art and art collecting. The series is a partnership between host Studio 21 and artScene Halifax, a program of Business for the Arts operating in eight Canadian cities.

ArtsCollect begins tonight at 6pm with Halifax-based painter Marilyn McAvoy and Newfoundland-based visual artist Christine Koch.

Subsequent sessions, happening March through May, will welcome Stephen Smart, a Toronto-based but nationally known collector; Dave Hayden, a Halifax-based collector and former owner of Parenthesis Gallery; and Jonathan Legate, an interior designer and co-founder of Dine by Design East.

To help you get started, we asked Carver to share her tips for would-be collectors.

Her number one tip is to buy original art pieces or an item from a limited edition set. Avoid reproductions, which are scans or photographs of the original work. “Anyone can have the same one you do,” she says. “An original piece of art is unique to you. You won’t find it elsewhere.”

See as much art as you can to learn what interests you. Visit public art galleries; public spaces with large art collections, such as universities; and private galleries. “We are well trained, well informed, and excited to talk to art novices,” says Carver of private art dealer’s gallery spaces.

Chose pieces by young artists. In addition to offering a lower price point than established artists, purchasing art from a new artist offers an opportunity to follow her career as she progresses.

Try before you buy. Most commercial galleries offer credit approval, or will allow you to leave a credit card with the gallery while you test drive a piece of art in your home.

Many galleries will negotiate instalment payments, says Carver. Halifax-based Art Lease Canada also buys art directly from dealers and leases it to customers over a pre-determined time frame.

Remember, the choice to purchase a piece of art is often a subconscious decision. An obvious aspect, such as colour, that attracts you initially may not be what keeps you interested later.

“The right piece of art doesn’t necessarily make you comfortable. Something that throws you off your balance will hold your interest over time,” she says.

Learn more about ArtsCollect or register for a session at

East Coast Living