I highly recommend purchasing art by living artists. Sounds daunting, right? Costs a fortune, right? How do I know what is “valuable”, right? It may feel like an elitist endeavor, but it is simply is not any of that. There are many artistswho are creating something every day in NYC and who sell their work at reasonable prices. I am always on the lookout for art for clients and also for myself. Let’s take it step by step:

Daunting: Well, you go into a store and see a sofa that you like, and it costs $2500. It wears out, and you have to replace it. You get tired of the color, so you reupholster it from time to time. AND, about 1 million or so people have the exact same sofa. NOT SO WITH ART. You purchase a painting for $2,000 (or less). It is the focal point of the room. You can move it to any wall in your house. (Try that with a sofa!) You look at it and it changes on it’s own from time to time…you just see different things. And you are the only one in the world who has this piece. It is possible that you can meet the artist, depending on the condition of purchase. And the art may increase in value, but it will be eternally valuable to you because you love it. This is not daunting, this is an investment in something that lasts forever! How many purchases can you say that about? The Arts Student’s League of New York has periodic studio shows for their students, and the work is for sale at very reasonable prices. It is a great feeling to support an individual’s early career and get something beautiful at the same time. I have a large oil painting in my bedroom from one of these shows. It is 6 feet high by 3 feet wide. Cost: $700. I wake up to it everyday, and I absolutely love it.

 Cost: I saw an artist’s work on the sidewalk outside of MOMA. Very compelling imagery and great colors. They were small oils on rough canvas as a fabric, and she was selling them for $70 each, framed (plastic). I spoke with her and she came to my client’s house with about 30 pieces to select from. My client and I chose the nine paintings that you see above.  You figure out the math. Her name is Martha Murphy and she exhibits outside of MOMA regularly (weather permitting).

Value: Putting aside the mercurial aspects of the art world and how it  “values” art from a cost perspective, I see the value this way: You are purchasing something that is compelling to you, and which is made by a living person who is continually making new things. That in itself is exciting.  From a global perspective, the value is in supporting the process of creation. We do that when we attend concerts or see our favorite band play. And even that is ephemeral….it is gone when the event is over. So we purchase the CD to try and preserve the event and memory. Purchasing art is forever. It is permanent. It is not trendy. It is an expression of your individual taste and aesthetic. That, in itself, is of great VALUE.

In your home, a room has one floor and four walls. We spend a lot of money on the things that go on the floor, and relatively little on the things that go on the walls. Let’s shift that ratio just a bit. It is an important part of design.

Here are some other artists that I love.

Tiffany Dugan –

William Engel –

Linda Schrank –

ox Marcia


  1. Sato Moughalian

    Marcia, this is a great suggestion and I like the mathematical logic you apply here! A couple of ideas to add…today is the last day of something called the Affordable Art Fair in NY If one wants to dip one’s toe in the water, this might make a pleasant afternoon stroll. The title explains the format.

    As you know, I have been collecting various things for years…I learned a great lesson from a dealer years ago. If you want to train your eye, spend time in museums looking at great examples of artists’ output. Over time you will flex the mental boundaries of discrimination and develop your own taste. That can make it easier to make decisions.

    Frank Lloyd Wright said that we have two skins, the one we are born in and the one that consists of the objects with which we surround ourselves. The things we choose are a reflection of what is inside us, but also reflect back into us (that is also why it can be a great idea to have professional guidance in making these choices). Our surroundings have a great impact on our state of mind and our resilience. Thanks, Marcia, for your beautiful pictures. I am sure your clients are grateful to you for what you offer them on so many levels!

  2. MarciaB1 Post author

    This is wonderful info! And why am I not surprised that you have such a wealth of ideas? I know you are a collector and have a deep knowledge or art and objects. Let’s spread the word….it is easy to collect!

  3. Jeremy Shapiro

    I agree entirely. The only art works I’ve ever bought are by artists who happen to be personal friends of mine. So not only have I acquired art works that I love and are beautiful and supported artists and supported friends, but when I see the art works I also feel the presence of my friends. Actually, now that I think of it, the largest art work I’ve bought is by someone I didn’t know (but whom I then met), but I feel her personal presence as well.

    1. MarciaB1 Post author

      That is exactly why we agree on supporting living creativity, Jeremy. And, I LOVE the works that are in your home. oxM

  4. Jorge Arango

    Maaahvelous dahling! And so true. Very little of the art I have is “valuable” on the secondary market. But I adore each and every piece. When I look at them, I remember specific places, circumstances, times of my life, etc. There are pieces I’ve outgrown and my tastes have changed. But instead of putting them in storage, I donated them to charity auctions, giving them a second life as pleasurable viewing to another person (while also helping a cause I believed in). Art never dies. It just keeps on giving…

    1. MarciaB1 Post author

      Hi Jorge, Thanks for such a spot on comment. We live with things for a long time…and they never fail to impact upon us. Memories, sensations, events, people. All of that living in a piece of art and within out souls. It is magical.
      ox M

  5. Julie Goodale

    Love this post! I recently heard about a wealthy couple who have an important contemporary painting collection. They had the collection photographed, printed on canvas, and framed – very expensive project – to be taken to their island house. In a way, kind of cool that they want to live with their art even on vacation. But mostly I thought, what a waste. Why not spend that money on some local artists? They would have a great chance to meet the artists and interact with their second home in a new & exciting way. The art might not be “important”, but would be so appropriate for the setting. And possibly they could find an artist who they might want to add to their real collection at home.

    1. MarciaB1 Post author

      Hi Julie, Yes this is an unusual situation. Give them credit for loving their art, but perhaps a bit too attached. Local artists could benefit so much from a few purchases. Love your input. ox M


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