Talk at DAA sponsor party, 10/3/2012, by Ben Hickey, Curator, Masur Museum:
I would like to thank the Downtown Arts Alliance for inviting me here this evening. I have been asked to speak briefly about the importance of collecting art and that of art in general.
This is my opinion and is not meant to be a definitive.
I will begin by saying something some may disagree with, but I promise to explain.
Art is a luxury. You do not need it to survive. That being said, there are paintings in caves for a reason. Frankly, living without things like art is not living.
Art and collecting art communicates many things. Art can be a document related to a time and place. It can also be therapeutic, sentimental, or tied to a rite or ritual.
The one thing art or good art must do, and this is clearly subjective, is evoke a response. It then gives you a platform to express yourself, the collector. With art you communicate to others how you conceive of yourself, your identity, and if you are lucky your art will transport you to a different time and place by speaking about some social or historic context. This type of art tells a story either created by the artist, owner, or both.
Taste can never be accounted for, so do not worry about that. Instead make sure the art you own is not neutral, sitting on a wall. It needs to be selected for several of the reasons I just mentioned. Think of this when you are at the crawl tomorrow or in an office or a home. It may be interesting to learn more about yourself, a colleague, family member, or friend when you look at their art or share with them your opinions about a work of art.
In general terms, the thing you are certain to learn about someone who collects art is they are self possessed, thoughtful, and sophisticated; capable of articulating ideas to others and accomplishing their goals in a very specific way. Simply it communicates to others you have a great deal to offer and, frankly, are probably too smart to try and cross.
Lastly, collecting art especially shows you are investing in something larger than yourself. You are investing in an artist, creating a personal connection with them, your history and community, as well as some type of ideal.
This seems like a natural point to discuss the importance of collecting work by local artists. Their work is likely to have an immediacy work by an artist from outside the area may not possess. Their prices are also probably more competitive for a similar or better work of art. There are some things works of art by a local artist are less capable of saying than a canonical artist or work of art, but regularly including local artists in your collecting habits will lend your collection an air of sophistication and being well rounded that I can assure you is particularly rewarding, just make sure you like it!
In closing, I also want to say the galleries downtown are fantastic and give you many opportunities to find something you will really like.