Thursday, October 8, 2009

Not Exactly A Band-Aid Solution...

I had some really fab photos of the restorative plaster work done in my Victorian salon - ok, living room, whatevs - but the computer monster saw fit to eat them. What can I say, sometimes you have to feed the beast.

What I can tell you is that the work was expertly done.

Rather unspectacularly - and yet prudently - I repainted the very same colours I fell in love with when I first set eyes on the room a decade ago. The walls are a soft pink/white (sounds awful, I know), the ornate trim is slate grey. Only now there isn't a crack in sight.

Intriguing dilemma that is driving me more insane than I imagined it would: The walls - which originally held "placeholder art" (i.e. framed things I picked up on the side of the road over the years), perched on pre-hammered nails (what? old plaster is scary...) - are now barren. Ironically, the room currently looks terribly plain and its elegance is drastically undermined. Did I lose you on the run-in disaster that was the first sentence of this paragraph??

Moving along...

I went looking for new art - I'm always looking for new art, "real art" (to express my adulthood). I discovered that apparently it takes a different life than the one I've lived so far to express my adulthood with art. See, I found a dozen pieces I would love to call mine - edgy, textured pieces, pieces to pick up the pink of the walls and the zebra of the dining room chair seats, pieces to complement the warm wood of my modern-meets-antique coffee table. Thing is they each cost 6 grand, give or take.

I'm not sure about you but prices like these lead me, in my desperation, to utter stupidities such as: Please. I could draw that!? (the subtext being "if the dimensions weren't 10ft x 8ft and the material wasn't gouache"). Oh, and if I were a visual artist.

So, I continue to feel underwhelmed by the cavern that is my formerly homey, dare I call it academic room. And I don't know how to find a way to fix it before I officially lose my mind.

And you wonder why I cook.


  1. Have you checked out the student art sales at the better art schools in your area? Get there early before the sheep get separated from the lambs, so to speak, and you can often pick up some very good stuff at very good pieces. We got two 30x48-ish pieces for a total of $975 three years ago at Emily Carr in Vanc'r -- that artist's work is currently going for upwards of $3000. I've done this a few times at my own univ. over the past few years, and have been thrilled to get big pieces of, as you say, "real art" for under $1000, often under $500. And they get as many comments from visitors as the pieces we've paid $1500+ for. Let me know if you try this . . . I'd love to hear what you turn up.

  2. I'd agree with Mater on this. I've found some fabulous things at local university art sales and since you are in a bigger pond you might find better stuff.

    Really, though barren can drive me wild, better to find what you love. You will, you know, at a price you love too.

  3. Being boring, but totally agree with the other two comments - student art is the way to go. Also, I don't know if you have them in Toronto, but in Sydney we have annual 'Affordable Art' fairs where there's nothing over $5K, so there's usually LOTS of good stuff under $1K. Hope you find something to restore your room to its former glory!

  4. My love of art also far exceeds my budget. What you need is a quick trip to Haiti. The street art there is amazing. We bought a few paintings that were large enough to help fill the walls of our living room. The framing about killed me, but the art itself was criminally affordable. So yeah, just a quick jaunt to a third world country where artists are forced to sell their work for pennies. Great.

  5. It takes time to decorate a room with the "right" art. The only stuff I have was done either by my mother or me. I'm lucky I have access to my mother's work; it was beautiful.

    I be you'll find things when you're not looking.

  6. Me too... the budget for "art" seems scarce for me, So I generally lurk Etsy, or Uni artist, I think if you gravitate toward a piece you love -- that's art, not its price tag I think = )

  7. ah. buying art. the best stuff is largely unaffordable, unless you are in the top 2% of earners in the world. it is frustrating. i work in a gallery and see some great stuff (and more than a fair amount of AWFUL stuff) daily, but that doesn't mean i have the good stuff in my home. it is tricky, for sure. i find using mirrors here and there makes things interesting and it is a lot cheaper than art. but, you can find some art deals...sometimes.

    shit. i wish this was more helpful. ugh. very sorry!

  8. I second what everyone else here has said. If you don't have artists in the family, look for some great, cheap student art. I bought at least 20-30 pieces during the 5 years I lived near RISD in Providence. Usually the frames cost more than the actual art, but I got some beautiful paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures. Also, flea markets or antique shops (not the fancy kind) can yield some good finds. Or there's always Etsy...

  9. Academic room? Do you have piles of books stacked everywhere? Not that I'd know anything about that.

    But the idea of going to a MFA show is a great one. When I was a grad student I fell in love with some paintings in a MFA show and regret never getting the artist's name. . .

  10. mater: That is excellent advice. I'm going to try it. I just need to look into the student art fairs. I'll keep you posted.

    Mardel: I don't know why I never considered this...

    Tiffany: We have this art in the park thing that didn't happen this summer (unfortunately) because of the 2 month long garbage strike. I've noticed that, while the art is awesome, it's getting pricier. But I do love it. They probably have others I should look into.

    Stacey: Well, that's a tactic! Of course, paying to get to Haiti may cost as much as the art.

    E: It's so great that you can do this. And how wonderful to have your mother's art. Truly an awesome way to have her with you always.

    April: OK, Etsy, gonna look into that too.

    J: I wondered if you would comment. You really are up on the scene. It's nice to know that even the art savvy have challenges (not that I wouldn't wish for you all the $$ art in the world!)

    Janet: Thanks for your comment. I'm going to try those...

    Miss C: Ha! I thought you might inquire. There are no books in that room. What I mean by academic is spare and scholarly-seeming. And vaguely masculine, IMO. (Not that academic living isn't equally populated by women - it's just my impression of academic is about wood and what we think of as masculine design).