How to add art to your home

Local artists share tips on how to find pieces that complement your home best

Longfellow mosaic artist Chris Miller believes that art is like jewelry for your home.
“I made this piece in glass a few years ago and I display it each September during LoLa Art Crawl. It says ‘Earth without art is just eh.’  I believe that!” said Miller, of
Miller makes a variety of different size mosaic items, including light boxes that can be set in a living room and treated like furniture and windows.
He encourages people to consider the light in their homes when they think about what kind of art they’d like to have. 
“One of the best things about art in my opinion is that there is no right or wrong. I may fall in love with a style that another person can’t stand. That’s OK. That’s how art works,” stated Miller.
“Art can turn a house into a home,” agrees fellow Longfellow artist Bob Schmitt of Laughing Waters Studio. “Selecting art to hang or have in your home is a simple way to surround yourself with pieces that can say something about yourself. Bringing art into your home can also energize a space, calm a space or turn a dull space into one of interest.”
For art lover and painter Suzie Marty, adding art to a home brings a personal touch both from the artist and art appreciator. “Original art holds an energy and soul like none other,” she observed. “It evokes a feeling, an expression, and a sense of connection. It can make a bold statement or quietly coexist. Either way, it can be a beautiful extension of your home and you.” 
“Art works are very personal because they usually provide a direct communication from the artist to the purchaser, which creates a certain feeling or memory in the viewer,” remarked painter Calvin deRuyter, who formerly owned the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger and Midway Como Frogtown Monitor and currently serves on the Lake Region Arts Council Board. He earned his bachelors in fine art from Hamline University, and creates abstract watercolors. “People who buy original artwork have a feeling of connection to the artwork they buy. It may ‘match the couch,’ but you still don’t go out and by just any old painting with those colors in it… people want more than that.”
How does one begin?
“In terms of starting out, it’s easy. There are so many artists in this city, in this neighborhood,” remarked Schmitt, who has been using ink and brush in the manner of Asian brush painters for over 60 years. “Pay attention to what gets your attention.”
Schmitt added, “Art crawls like LoLa, buildings like Northrop King, The Casket Arts Building, The California Building  offer many opportunities to both see what is out there and also to actually meet the artist. When considering purchasing art, the goal is not to impress someone else, but to feed yourself.
“Buy things that you love. That may help tell the story of who you are. If you need more energy, bring a high energy piece into your home. If you need calming from the world outside, look for something that relaxes you.” He pointed to as a great place to visit to see the range of choices available.
Marty, who owns Everett & Charlie art gallery in Linden Hills, and also sells newspaper advertisements for TMC Publications CO, agrees that selecting art can be simple. “Let the art choose you,” she recommended. “If you work too hard to find the perfect piece based on the right size, color, medium, or price, you may be disappointed. Relax. Let it speak to you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.” 
Tips for selecting art
For LoLa artist Lisa Arnold, adding art to a home helps one feel alive. “I let my art find me. When I feel that ‘zing,’ I know I have to have it,” said Arnold. “Buy what you like. Find room for it. Constantly move stuff around.”
Art in a home enriches all who live and visit there, observed LoLa artist Kenneth Wenzel. “Choose what you respond to and keep open to learning more about art to develop your sense of taste,” he suggested. “Pick out a wall for a painting/print/photo and/or a space/shelf for a piece of sculpture and start there.”
Know the spaces in your house where art would be desired, advises deRuyter. “Knowing your space is the most important part before you actually start your search for art.” Don’t forget the ‘odd’ spaces in your home that may be used, i.e. the space above the thermostat, the narrow space between that window and a door, or on top of a corner glass case that would be perfect for a piece of sculpture or a lit glass vase. 
Ask, do you want one piece that just dominates the space and makes a solo statement? Or, do you want multiple pieces that you love in a “create a gallery” kind of feeling in your home? 
“And don’t forget that art comes in all forms and sizes to cover walls, sit on the floor, cover at table or a desk, or even hang from the ceiling… Art belongs everywhere,” said deRuyter. 
“Of course, many people love to look at art, decide they love it, and then ‘make’ the space in their home to place it – that is the sign that you are moving from being a home designer, to an actual collector of art. A few times in my career, when I have asked someone who is seriously considering one of my paintings if they had a place in mind, and the response was ‘Oh, the living room (or bath or bedroom), but we are choosing the art we love first and then building the rest of the room around that.’ Now, that is the very most perfect complement to any artist.”
Marty sees people come into her gallery, fall in love with a piece immediately but then debate whether they have any more wall space. They may also not know exactly why they like the piece as it isn’t their typical style. When they come back and tell her that the piece has been “haunting” them and they can’t stop thinking about it, “that’s when we both know they are meant to be together and give the piece a ‘Forever Home.’”
She features only Minnesota artists in her gallery. “Minnesota is so lucky to be overflowing with talented artists,” she observed. 
“Buy local art and stay in touch with the artists who have made it,” urges Wenzel.
“In the Twin Cities there is a thriving artist community with all kinds of art shows, studio tours, and artists who are willing to open their studio for people to look and talk with,” agrees deRuyter. “There are smaller tours or art fairs, and there are bigger events. During an event like Art-A-Whirl (in May) or like Art Attack (in June), you can check out literally hundreds of artists in one building – certainly more artists than anyone could visit in a weekend.” These art crawls enable people to ask themselves if they want art that is abstract or realistic, landscape or still life, impressionist or non-objective. Do they want art that screams or art that calms? 
Don’t feel pressured to fill a space right now, said deRuyter, or you might get something that won’t speak to you for long. “Take the time to find the pieces that ... survive in your mind and heart the longest, and just enjoy the journey as you look,” he stated.


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