on buying art

I committed purchase of art yesterday.

I will often buy small pieces, prints, or original drawings if they’re not too expensive, or small objets d’art that just feel good in my hand or will look pleasing to me on a bookshelf. I love wearable art, although I usually buy that as gifts (since I no longer wear earrings or much jewelry).

I’ve often looked at paintings on large canvases and thought, “oh, that would be nice…” and just sighed and walked away.

Yesterday, I didn’t walk away.

I bought a full-size canvas yesterday at the holiday show at the Hunters Point Shipyard Artists Open Studios. I missed their fall show (I was at WFC, so it was worth it), so I was glad that they opened their studios again this season. It was a small show, comparatively–it can be 150-200 artists for the big show, and it was less than 40 for this one. But I got to see marvelous works (including [info]chaneybear‘s husband’s works–of which I so am going to buy at some point) and enjoy them with friends.

About two-thirds of the way through the studios, we came to John Marvuglio’s, and saw his work. I believe that I gasped when I entered the studio and saw the paintings he had on display. I think I might have said something like the polite equivalent of “oh, shit, I’m screwed,” even. And then he shot really dirty pool and hauled out another painting for me to see on the wall, and I was lost.

My friends, god love them, were of no (or complete, depending on if you’re watching out for my pocketbook or my soul) help. They loved it, too, and they saw the look on my face, and they knew that I would have regretted walking away. So, they threatened to beat me if I didn’t buy it.

So I did.

It’s a melancholy piece, and a bit disturbing and dark, and gorgeous. I’ll post a picture of it when I’ve got it up on the wall (the artist said that was fine, just to credit him, which of course). It’s a piece that I’m going to grow into, that I’ll have to grow into. There’s a lot there.

Buying it made me feel adult, and scared. The “holy crap” reflex of spending the money, the knowing that I love the work and that it’s mine now, the fact that it unsettles me–in a good way–but unsettling nonetheless…

It was a bit terrifying to buy. It feels like I’ve bought a snapshot of someone’s soul, and that scares me, even though I know that isn’t the case, that the artist has not lost of himself in the painting, but gained in the sharing of a story dressed in colors on canvas, and benefited in the necessary way of paying rent. I know that because that’s how I feel when I write. And even so, I feel odd and slightly conflicted, because this piece–this isn’t a bagatelle, this isn’t some lovely printed thing that I chose because it fits a room’s color scheme–has a voice, and that frightens me in its own right, and because now I have responsibility for it.

I often joke that I have the soul of an archivist because I love to grow my trove of stories (books, and movies, and music, and art, and anything that has something to tell) and keep them safe and share them. But dear lord, having something like this? Holy crap, it’s all so fraught!

The artist was kind, though.

When I went back to pick up the painting at the end of the show, he thanked me and told me that he liked my energy and showed me a few of his smaller works (paintings 12×12), and invited me to choose the one I liked best. They weren’t his best work, but they were lovely, and each had a small tale inside them, so I chose the one that spoke most clearly. He wrapped it up and gave it to me as a gift; lagniappe. I already knew that I wanted more of his work, but out of such courtesies is loyalty born.

There’s so much beautiful art out there, so many stories to hear. I won’t be able to know them all, but as of yesterday, one more of them lives with me.